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Ottmar Gerster

Ottmar Gerster was born on 29 June 1897 in Braunfels (Germany). His mother was a pianist and so he learned piano and also violin from an early age. In 1913 he moved to Frankfurt/Main to study privately with Ferdinand Kaufmann (violin) and Bernhard Sekles (music theory). In 1916 Ottmar Gerster was drafted for military service in World War I. After the war he returned to Frankfurt and continued his studies at the Hoch Conservatory under Adolf Rebner (violin) and again Bernhard Sekles (composition).
After his studies Ottmar Gerster first worked as Kapellmeister at the orchestras in Nauheim and Bad Homburg, was solo violist in the newly founded Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra and violist in the Lenzewski Quartet. In 1927 Ottmar became lecturer at the Folkwang University in Essen and taught violin, viola and music theory. He held this position until 1947. During the time of the Third Reich Ottmar Gerster composed music for the Nazi regime, which led to a commission for an opera in 1943 and a position on the Gottbegnadeten list in 1944.
In 1947 Ottmar Gerster was appointed professor for composition at the university in Weimar, in 1951 he moved to Leipzig where he fulfilled the same position until his retirement in 1962. He was also a founding member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin in 1950. Ottmar Gerster became a member of the Socialist Unity Party already in 1946 and was a distinguished and important composer for the GDR. His composition "Festouvertüre 1948" - a work to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the revolution in 1848 - was one of the most performed pieces in the GDR.
Ottmar Gerster died on 31 August 1969 in Borsdorf near Leipzig (Germany).


The work catalogue of Ottmar Gerster contains compositions of all genres. He wrote 4 symphonies, several other orchestral works, concertos for violin, piano, cello, viola and horn, chamber compositions like 2 string quartets, a string trio, a violin sonata, 2 viola sonatas, piano music as well as 5 operas, ballets, cantatas, choral works and songs.


In my possession are autograph manuscripts of two small songs by Ottmar Gerster. Both songs are scored for men's chorus. The first composition is titled "Das Lied vom täglichen Brot" and sets a text by Bruno Schönlank to music. The second song is called "Es schreit die Zeit" with a text by "A. Ehlers".

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