A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Forster, William
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FORSTER, William, eminent instrument maker, born May 4, 1739, at Brampton, Cumberland, was son of William, and grandson of John Forster, makers of spinning wheels and violins. He was taught both trades by his father, and also learned to play on the violin. He came to London in 1759 and took up his abode in Prescott Street, Goodman's Fields, and for a time endured much privation from inability to obtain suitable employment. Ultimately he was engaged by a music seller on Tower Hill named Beck, and the violins made by him being much approved and quickly sold, he started in business on his own account in Duke's Court, St. Martin's Lane, whence he shortly removed into St. Martin's Lane, and speedily attained great reputation. Forster afterwards added to his business that of a music seller and publisher, and in that capacity in 1781 entered into an agreement with Haydn for the purchase and publication in England of that master's compositions, and between that date and 1787 published 83 symphonies, 24 quartets, 24 solos, duets and trios, and the 'Passione,' or 'Seven Last Words.' About 1785 he removed into the Strand (No. 348), where the business was carried on until the pulling down of Exeter 'Change. In 1795 he issued a copper medal or token, halfpenny size, bearing—Obverse, 'Wm. Forster, Violin, Tenor and Violoncello Maker, No. 348, Strand, London.' Prince of Wales's feathers in the field. Reverse. The melody of 'God save the King' in musical notation in the key of G. A crown in the field. above it 'God save the king,' beneath it '1795.' William Forster died at the house of his son, 22, York St., Westminster, Dec. 14, 1808.Forster, William, (No. 2), son of the above-mentioned, and generally known as 'Royal' Forster, from his title 'Music Seller to the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cumberland.' Born 1764, died 1824. Like his father, he made large numbers of instruments, which once enjoyed a high reputation. By making the bellies of their instruments thin, and increasing the weight of the blocks and linings, the Forsters obtained, while the instrument was still new, a strong and penetrating tone, which found high favour with Lindley and his school. Being well made and finished, and covered with excellent varnish, their instruments have much that commends them to the eye. The Forsters copied both Stainer and Amati. 'Royal' Forster had two sons: William Forster (No. 3), the eldest, devoted himself to other pursuits, and made but few instruments; but the second, Simon Andrew Forster, carried on the business, first in Frith Street, afterwards in Macclesfield Street, Soho. Simon Andrew Forster made instruments of high model and no great merit. He is best known as the author (jointly with W. Sandys, F.S.A.) of 'The History of the Violin and other Instruments played with the Bow,' 1864. He died Feb. 2, 1870.
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