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About the Catalogue of Works

1. Sources

The present catalogue of works is based on the following sources:

a) the collection in Forster’s house at Grafrath near Munich – preserved as manuscripts, some issued as publications of the Manuscript Archive of the Musicians’ Association (Tonkünstlerverband), or as printed editions – on the bookshelves in the study, pre-sorted by Gisela von Forster, the composer’s widow,

b) the composer’s typescript catalogue in which he later add many entries by hand,

c) parts and sketches in bookcases.

2. Organization

The organization of the present catalogue deviates from that of the catalogue of works compiled by Walter von Forster. The system employed provides a better overview as well as a classification of the individual work categories (for example, motets) according to the usual generic terms. A chronological arrangement was not taken into consideration, since this would have been contrary to the obvious desire of the composer. Walter von Forster only rarely dated his works. The early works (from the 1940s and 1950s) carry opus numbers (up to op. 14). Later works display either no indications of the date of composition or dates (year only) enciphered in the form of letters, which are given here in deciphered form. It was obviously Forster’s intention to conceal the chronology of his oeuvre and instead leave it to posterity as a whole – without genealogical speculations. The order of the works in the individual work categories in this catalogue is either alphabetic or determined by the size of the performing group.

3. Identification of the Works

The unambiguous identification of many of the works was made difficult by the fact that the composer often changed or varied titles when revising works or depositing them in the Manuscript Archive of the Association of German Music Pedagogues and Performing Artists (Verband Deutscher Musikerzieher und konzertierender Künstler). It is often not clear which of the titles was the one definitively desired by the composer, so that, as a rule, the title of the variant intended for publication has been used in this catalogue. Similar discrepancies also arise from the catalogue of works compiled by Walter von Forster.

It was and is also difficult to infer the composer’s intention when it comes to collections of works. Many pieces, especially chorale preludes and choral pieces, appear in different contexts. A collection of motets (see page 12) is listed in Forster’s own catalogue, but it was not possible to determine exactly which motets belonged to this collection. In terms of instrumentation, many works with a keyboard instrument lack precise indications (piano, organ, harpsichord). In vocal works accompanied by instruments, the composer often indicates exact alternative instrumentations that are intended to take into consideration the many possibilities of church performance practice in particular. An unambiguous classification of individual pieces to specific genres was not always possible. Walter von Forster used his own generic terms or extended these, for example, in the motets, through the almost global permission to employ instruments as required.

4. Lacunae

In his own catalogue of works, Walter von Forster mentioned over 400 canons. These were found in collections and on individual sheets of paper, but are not listed in the present catalogue of works.

Michael Grill

Baldham, 28 December 2004