Josten, Werner (Erich)

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Josten, Werner (Erich)

Josten, Werner (Erich), German-born American conductor, teacher, and composer; b. Elberfeld, June 12, 1885; d. N.Y., Feb. 6, 1963. He studied with Siegel in Munich, then with Jaques-Dalcroze in Geneva. He later was made asst. conductor at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich (1918). In 1920 he went to the U.S., and became a naturalized American citizen in 1933. He taught at Smith Coll. in Northampton, Mass. (1923–49)and also conducted its orch. His compositions are couched in the lyrical manner of German Romantic music, with a strong undercurrent of euphonious counterpoint within the network of luscious harmonies. During his American period, he became interested in exotic art, and introduced impressionistic devices in his works.


dramatic: Ballet: Batouala (1930-31; symphonic suite as Suite nègre, Northampton, Mass., Nov. 10, 1963); Joseph and His Brethren (1932; N.Y., March 9, 1936; symphonic suite, Philadelphia, May 15, 1939); Endymion (1933; symphonic suite, N.Y., Oct. 28, 1936). ORCH.: Concerto sacro I-II (1925; N.Y., March 27, 1929); Jungle, symphonic movement inspired by Henri Rousseau’s painting Forêt exotique (1928; Boston, Oct. 25, 1929); Serenade for Small Orch. (1934); 2 syms.: No. 1 for Strings (1935; Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Sept. 3, 1946) and No. 2 (Boston, Nov. 13, 1936); Rhapsody for Violin and Orch. (1959). CHAMBER: String Quartet (1934); Violin Sonata (1936); Sonata for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1938); Cello Sonata (1938); Concertante for 4 Bassoons (1939; also for 4 Cellos, 1941); Violin Sonatina (1940); Trio for Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1941); Trio for Violin, Viola, and Cello (1942); Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano (1943); Horn Sonata (1944); Canzona seria for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, and Piano (N.Y., Nov. 23, 1957); piano pieces, including a sonata (1937). VOCAL: Crucifixion for Chorus (1915); 3 Songs for Tenor and Orch. (1918–29); Hymnus to the Quene of Paradys for Chorus (1922); Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day for Chorus (1925); Fragments from the Brome Play “Abraham and Isaac” for Solo Voices, Chorus, and Orch. (1926).


W.j., 1885-1963. A Summary of His Compositions with Press Reviews (N.Y., 1964).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire