Maureen Forrester

Biography

Born: July 25, 1930; Montreal, Quebec, Canada   Died: June 16, 2010; Toronto, ONT  
Canada's most famous contralto, Maureen Forrester, began her vocal studies with Sally Martin in Montreal and later studied with Frank Rowe and Bernard Diamant. Her first professional appearance came in a recital at Montreal in 1953, and she began a musical collaboration with pianist John Newmark which lasted until his death in 1991. In 1955 she went to Paris for a recital, and her New York debut recital was one year later. That recital brought Read more her to the attention of Bruno Walter who asked her to sing the contralto solos in the Second Symphony of Mahler with the New York Philharmonic the following season. This appearance was the beginning of her international fame, as Walter considered her an outstanding interpreter of Mahler's music. During the early years of her career, she concentrated on concert and recital programs. Her first important operatic appearance came in 1962 at Toronto in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice. In 1966 she debuted at the New York City Opera as Cornelia in Handel's Giulio Cesare with Beverly Sills and Norman Treigle. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Erda in Das Rheingold in 1975. Her excellent comic timing brought critical acclaim for her appearances as the Step-Mother in Massenet's Cendrillon, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel and as the Fairy Queen in Sullivan's Iolanthe at Stratford. In her later years, she was in great demand as the Countess in Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades and in Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites.

From 1965 to 1974, she was a member of the Bach Aria Group and made many tours of the United States and Canada with that group. Her solo recital tours took her around the world and, ever a staunch supporter of Canadian composers, she regularly included their songs on her programs. The most important of the works she championed was Fleming's The Confession Stone. Although her orchestral repertoire ranged from Bach and Pergolesi to Elgar and Casals, it was as an interpreter of Mahler that Forrester is best remembered, most especially for the Second Symphony and Das Lied von der Erde. Maureen Forrester's voice was a dark, rich contralto, but with an ease in the upper register which allowed her to sing some mezzo-soprano parts including the Verdi Requiem and Brangäne in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. Although a large voice, it was very flexible which created a demand for her in the oratorios of Bach and Handel, as well as other Baroque composers, which she sang all over the world. In the 1960s and 1970s, she averaged around 120 performances a year, while raising five children.

Forrester enjoyed teaching, and from 1966 until 1971, she headed the voice department at the Philadelphia Academy of Music. After leaving the Academy of Music, she continued to teach privately in Toronto and to give master classes in conjunction with her recitals. In 1983, she began a five-year term as chairman of the Canada Council for the Arts. She published her autobiography, Out of Character, in 1986, the same year she was named a Companion of the Order of Canada. Maureen Forrester remained one of the great contraltos of the twentieth century throughout her long performing career. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 31 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Beethoven: 7 Legendary Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 483827 Release Date: 03/20/2020   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Irmgard Seefried,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Ernst Haefliger,  Maureen Forrester  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Carlos Kleiber,  Ferenc Fricsay,  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  St. Hedwig's Cathedral Choir  ... 
    CD: $46.99
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  • 2.
    Beethoven: Legendary Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 19075973752 Release Date: 12/06/2019   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Maureen Forrester,  Leontyne Price,  David Poleri,  Giorgio Tozzi  ... 
    Conductor:  Bruno Walter,  George Szell,  Leonard Bernstein,  Fritz Reiner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 3.
    Bruno Walter: The Complete Columbia Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 592324 Release Date: 12/06/2019   Number of Discs: 77
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Gustav Mahler  ... 
    Performer:  Rudolf Serkin,  Joseph Szigeti,  Nathan Milstein,  Desi Halban  ... 
    Conductor:  Bruno Walter,  John Finley Williamson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 4.
    Mahler: The Symphonies & Song Cycles / Haitink, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4834643 Release Date: 03/01/2019   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Elly Ameling,  Aafje Heynis,  Maureen Forrester,  Ileana Cotrubas  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Netherlands Radio Chorus,  St. Willibrod Boy's Choir  ... 
    CD: $92.49
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  • 5.
    Delius: Orchestral & Choral Works / Beecham
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 559985 Release Date: 03/24/2017   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Frederick Delius
    Performer:  John [baritone (50s)] Cameron,  Maureen Forrester,  Jean Pougnet,  Rene Soames  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society,  Luton Choral Society  ... 
    On sale! $21.98
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  • 6.
    Symphonies & Symphonic Poems / Mehta
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002488802 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 23
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss,  Hector Berlioz,  Anton Bruckner  ... 
    Performer:  Sidney Harth,  Maureen Forrester,  Daniel Benyamini,  Christa Ludwig  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $80.99
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  • 7.
    Oscar Shumsky: A Retrospective
    Label: Doremi Records   Catalog: 8031 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Dietrich Buxtehude,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Oscar Shumsky,  Maureen Forrester,  Mario Bernardi,  Nadia Reisenberg  ... 
    CD: $48.99
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  • 8.
    The Westminster Legacy
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001999302 Release Date: 02/18/2014   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Gustav Mahler  ... 
    Performer:  Sena Jurinac,  Lucretia West,  Hans Loeffler,  Frederick Guthrie  ... 
    Conductor:  Hermann Scherchen,  Pierre Monteux,  René Leibowitz,  Erich Leinsdorf  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Academy Chamber Chorus  ... 
    CD: $145.49
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  • 9.
    Sir Thomas Beecham: English Music - Delius, German, Bantock, Bax, Lord Berners
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 09915 Release Date: 03/22/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Frederick Delius,  Granville Bantock,  Arnold Bax,  Lord (Tyrwhitt) Berners  ... 
    Performer:  John [baritone (50s)] Cameron,  Maureen Forrester,  Jean Pougnet,  Rene Soames  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society,  Luton Choral Society  ... 
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  • 10.
    Mahler - Complete Edition [18 CDs]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001439302 Release Date: 06/22/2010   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Clemens Hagen,  Gidon Kremer,  Veronika Hagen,  Oleg Maisenberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Mikhail Pletnev,  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Luciano Berio,  Riccardo Chailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian National Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Düsseldorf Städtischer Musikvereins Chorus  ... 
    CD: $92.49
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  • 11.
    The Voices Of Living Stereo Vol 2 / Lanza, Price, Et Al
    Label: Rca Victor Living Stereo   Catalog: 68167 Release Date: 03/02/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Franz Schubert,  Gustav Mahler,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Eileen Farrell,  Franz Rupp,  Marian Anderson,  Richard Lewis  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Robert Russell Bennett,  Fritz Reiner,  Charles Munch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 12.
    Mahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde / Reiner, Forrester, Lewis
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 60178 Release Date: 01/07/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Richard Lewis,  Maureen Forrester
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Canadian Composers Portrait - Srul Irving Glick
    Label: Centrediscs   Catalog: 11606 Release Date: 11/01/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Srul Irving Glick
    Performer:  Maureen Forrester,  John Newmark,  Ralf Gothóni
    Conductor:  Ralf Gothóni
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Lawrence String Quartet,  Finlandia Sinfonietta
    CD: $17.99
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  • 14.
    Beethoven: Symphony No 9 / Munch, Boston Symphony
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 38428 Release Date: 04/30/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Maureen Forrester,  Leontyne Price,  David Poleri,  Giorgio Tozzi
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New England Conservatory Chorus,  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 15.
    Handel Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 742563 Release Date: 03/24/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Monica Sinclair,  Jennifer Vyvyan,  Giorgio Tozzi,  Jon Vickers  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy,  John McCarthy,  Raymond Leppard,  Richard Kapp  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
    CD: $11.99
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  • 16.
    Ceremonies Of Carols- Britten, Poulenc, Respighi / Korn
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 7787 Release Date: 09/11/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten,  Francis Poulenc,  Ottorino Respighi
    Performer:  Heidi Lehwalder,  David Gordon,  Benita Valente,  Maureen Forrester
    Conductor:  Michael Korn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Singers,  Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 17.
    Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame Highlights / Ozawa, Freni
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 61227 Release Date: 08/22/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Dennis Petersen,  Mirella Freni,  Vladimir Atlantov,  Dmitri Hvorostovsky  ... 
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Tanglewood Festival Chorus
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 18.
    Menotti: The Medium / Armenian, Forrester,
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4307 Release Date: 12/21/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Gino Quilico,  Maureen Forrester,  Rosemarie Landry
    Conductor:  Raffi Armenian
    DVD: $34.99
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  • 19.
    Art Of Igor Markevitch
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4301 Release Date: 10/26/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Maureen Forrester,  Irmgard Seefried
    Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Radio Canada Orchestra
    DVD: $34.99
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  • 20.
    British Composers - Delius: Florida Suite, Etc / Beecham
    Label: Emi Classics Special Import   Catalog: 75788 Release Date: 03/04/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frederick Delius
    Performer:  John [baritone (50s)] Cameron,  Maureen Forrester
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 21.
    The Art Of Robert Bloom - Bach Aria Group Vol 1
    Label: Boston Records   Catalog: 1036 Release Date: 01/01/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Robert Bloom,  Bernard Greenhouse,  Maureen Forrester,  Paul Ulanowsky  ... 
    Conductor:  William Jonson,  Frank Brieff
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  Choral Art Society,  Bach Aria Group  ... 
    On sale! $25.98
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  • 22.
    The Art Of Robert Bloom - Bach Aria Group Vol 2
    Label: Boston Records   Catalog: 1037 Release Date: 01/01/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Paul Ulanowsky,  Robert Bloom,  Bernard Greenhouse,  Carol Smith  ... 
    Conductor:  Frank Brieff,  Brian Priestman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Aria Group,  Bach Aria Group Orchestra,  Bach Aria Group Chorus
    On sale! $25.98
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  • 23.
    Mahler: Symphony No 2 / Kaplan, Valente, Forrester, Et Al
    Label: Conifer   Catalog: 51337 Release Date: 11/10/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Benita Valente,  Maureen Forrester
    Conductor:  Gilbert Kaplan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  The Ardwyn Singers  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 24.
    Bach: Easter Oratorio, Magnificat / Ormandy, Bernstein
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 60261 Release Date: 03/17/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Charles Bressler,  Lee Venora,  Russell Oberlin,  Jennie Tourel  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Schola Cantorum,  Temple University Concert Choir  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 25.
    Bach: Cantatas;  Handel / Maureen Forrester, Janigro, Et Al
    Label: Vanguard   Catalog: 1064 Release Date: 10/07/1997   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Herbert Tachezi,  Maureen Forrester,  Antonio Janigro,  Anton Heiller  ... 
    Conductor:  Antonio Janigro
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti di Zagreb
    CD: $12.99
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