(b Elberfeld, Wuppertal, 12 June 1885; dNew York, 6 Feb 1963). American composer and conductor of German birth. After five years in commerce he turned to music, studying with Rudolf Siegel (harmony and counterpoint) in Munich and with Emile Jaques-Dalcroze in Geneva. He then lived in Paris (1912–14), returned to Munich at the outbreak of World War I, and in 1918 was appointed assistant conductor of the Munich Opera. In 1920 he visited the USA to tour as a composer-accompanist for song recitals, and he remained there as professor of counterpoint and composition at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts (1923–49), taking American citizenship in 1933. He was conductor of the Amherst and Smith College Orchestra and of the Northampton Opera Festival Orchestra, guest conductor of the Lewisohn Stadium Concerts, New York, and director of the Pioneer Valley Orchestra in Greenfield, Massachusetts (1947–50). While at Smith he conducted the first American productions of Monteverdi’s Orfeo, Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and L’incoronazione di Poppea, Handel’s Apollo e Dafne, Giulio Cesare, Rodelinda and Serse and Fux’s Costanza e fortezza. The honours he received included two Juilliard Music Foundation publication awards (1931, 1938).
Josten’s music came to wide attention in 1929 with the first performances of the Ode for St Cecilia’s Day (1925) and of Jungle (1928) (given by the Boston SO under Koussevitzky). During the next decade his works were played by leading orchestras; Stokowski concluded his opening concert of the 1932–3 season with Jungle, in defiance of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s directors’ wishes. The Violin Sonata (1936) was performed at the 1938 ISCM Festival, and in the same year the Composers’ Forum Laboratory gave a concert of Josten’s works in New York; a second followed at the New York World’s Fair (1939). Josten’s early orchestral pieces are harmonically expansive and often betray medieval, non-Western or modern French influences. After 1936 he concentrated on chamber works in concise Classical forms and with a mildly dissonant, sometimes bitonal harmony.
Choral: Crucifixion (W. von der Vogelweide), 1916; Hymnus to the Quene of Paradys (old Eng. and Lat.), 1922; Ode for St Cecilia’s Day (J. Dryden), 1925; Fragments from the Brome Play ‘Abraham and Isaac’ (anon., 15th century), solo vv, chorus, orch, 1926
Chbr and solo inst: Str Qt, 1934; Sonata, vn, pf, 1936; Pf Sonata, 1937; Sonata, vn, vc, pf, 1938; Sonata, vc, pf, 1938; Concertante, 4 bn, 1939, arr. 4 vc, 1941; Canzona seria, low str, 1940; Sonatina, vn, pf, 1940; Trio, fl, cl, bn, 1941; Sonata, hn, pf, 1952; Canzona seria (A Hamlet Monologue), fl, ob, cl, bn, pf, 1957; other pf works; Str Trio [unpubd]