Born in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, Karl Leister received earliest music instruction from his father, a clarinetist with the RIAS Symphony Orchestra in Berlin. From 1953–1956 Karl Leister studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin and in 1957, as a 19-year-old, was appointed Principal Clarinet of the Komische Oper Berlin under Vaclav Neumann and Walter Felsenstein. In 1959 he took the post of Principal Clarinet with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Herbert von Karajan. The 30-year-long “shared journey” with Karajan was the most important and most influential in Karl Leister’s career. At the same time he began an international career as a soloist and chamber musician. His chamber music partners have included the Amadeus Quartet, Vermeer Quartet, the Leipzig String Quartet, Artis Quartet, Vogler Quartet, Wilhelm Kempf, Pierre Fournier, Gidon Kremer, Rita Streich, Kathleen Battle as well as the pianists James Levine, Ricardo Muti, Gerhard Oppitz, Christoph Eschenbach, Bruno Canino, Elena Bashkirova, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Paul Gulda, Stefan Vladar and Ferenc Bognar. He has also appeared as a concert soloist under the baton of such leading conductors as Herbert von Karajan, Karl Böhm, Seiji Ozawa, Eugen Jochum, Raphael Kubelik, Aaron Copland, Sir Neville Marriner, Paavo Berglund, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and Kent Nagano.
Leister is co-founder of the Woodwinds of the Berlin Philharmonic, Berliner Solisten and the Ensemble Wien-Berlin. Since the founding of the Herbert-von-Karajan-Akademie des Berliner Philharmonischen Orchesters, Karl Leister has given instruction to budding talent and many of his former students have gone on to important appointments with orchestras in Germany and abroad. He is also much in demand as a performer at international festivals and teacher in master classes.
Leister has also been the recipient of many prizes and awards at music competitions in Germany and internationally. In addition, he has recorded virtually all the works within the clarinet repertory with record labels including DGG, Teldec/Warner, Orfeo, D+G, BIS, Nimbus, Sony, Camerata Tokyo, EMI, and Philips. In 1987 Leister was named an honorary member and guest professor at the Royal Academy of Music London. From 1993 to 2002, Karl Leister was a professor on the faculty of the Hochschule für Musik Berlin “Hanns Eisler.”
The Piano Trios and Clarinet Trio op. 114
Trio Ex Aequo, Piano Trio - Karl Leister, Clarinet