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Classicsonline Home » Artists » » Ristenpart, Karl

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Karl Ristenpart (1900 - 1967)


Although born in Germany, Karl Ristenpart spent much of his early childhood in Chile, where his father was director of the Santiago astronomical observatory. Following his father’s death, in 1913 he and his mother returned to Germany, where they came into contact with Hermann Scherchen. Scherchen became music teacher to Ristenpart’s mother, and she in turn financed his first Berlin concerts; eventually they married and it was Scherchen who was the key influence in Ristenpart’s decision to become a musician. After studying at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin and in Vienna he returned to Berlin to become conductor of the Berlin Oratorio Choir; he also conducted the Berlin Radio Orchestra and in 1932 formed the Berlin Chamber Orchestra. The rise of the Nazi party put a temporary halt to Ristenpart’s career: his refusal to join the party meant he was prevented from gaining a permanent appointment with any German orchestra, and in addition was eventually forced to disband the Berlin Chamber Orchestra. However, following the end of World War II he was invited in 1946 to form a chamber orchestra and choir by the Radio in the American Sector of Berlin (RIAS), remaining with RIAS until 1953 when he moved to Saarbrücken, where for Saarland Radio he founded the Saar Chamber Orchestra, the forerunner of the Saar Radio Symphony Orchestra.

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