Tristan Xavier Köster (b. 1993) is a Los Angeles born composer currently living in Hamburg, Germany.

Torn between the punk music of his childhood and the classical canon he loves so dearly,  Köster is constantly improvising and searching for an unheard, yet intuitive way to approach each instrument and ensemble. Köster’s compositions are inspired by the abstract emotive capabilities of music and the ability of his ideas to be diversely interpreted by performers and listeners alike. 

Working in predominantly acoustic settings, Köster finds artistic solace in the ability of sound to distance himself from his technologically driven life and re-immerse himself and the listener in their own aural (and subsequent corporeal) roots. 

A compendium of his other orchestral music has been self released on Bandcamp under the title “too much ego. (Symphonic works).”

Career trajectory / Collaborators below
(most recent-oldest)

Downloadable CV available here. Example score available here, and on orchestral pieces’ pages. (For longer bio, scroll below)

Biography for Press and Programs

Ensembles and Soloists
The Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony, Sinfoniker Hamburg, members of the LA Chamber Orchestra, Trio Catch, The Varied Trio, MIRROR STRINGS Quartet, The Lux Nova Duo, and by his close collaborators violinist James McFadden-Talbot, pianists Brendan White and Hector Docx, cellists Jonathan Dormand and Michael Heupel, guitarist Jorge Paz, clarinetist Roman Gerber, among others. 

Programmed and Commissioned by:
The Bay Area Book Festival (2019), Zukunft Der Orchester Culture Stiftung (2018/2020), Festival neue Musik Husum (2018), the Tonali 2017 Festival, Aeon Ensemble’s UN Sustainable Arts Initiative at NYU (2016),  Tuesdays at Monk Space @ Villa Aurora (2015), the Shanghai New Music Week / Shanghai Conservatory of Music (2015), the HearNow Festival (2015)

Notable Concert Halls and Interesting Places:
Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg Resonanzraum(Bunker),Hamburg Laeiszhalle, the Shanghai Philharmonic Hall, Deutsche Generalkonsulat in Shanghai, Villa Aurora (Lion Feuchtwanger’s former home), Hamburg’s Gängeviertel (Brahms’ Birthplace), and broadcasted on KPFK’s “Native Sounds” (LA) radio station.

Prizes and Scholarships
composer in residence, occasional cellist, and research fellow for the 2018/2019 Zukunft der Orchesterkultur Projekt, funded by the Bundesbeauftragte für Kultur und Medien (BKM) in Hamburg, San Francisco, and Shanghai.

“The Empty City Stratagem” for tenor and large orchestra, has also been awarded the William Schuman Prize by the BMI foundation as 2016’s “most outstanding score.”

funded by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music to spend a month “researching” the Folk Music of the Guangxi Provence and ultimately compose a large work for orchestra inspired by his time abroad. 


Köster names composers Xiaoyong Chen, Frank Ticheli, and A.J. McCaffrey as his most significant mentors. He completed his Master of Music Degree with an emphasis in orchestral composition at the Hamburg Hochschule für Musik und Theater, and graduated summa cum laude with his BM in composition at the USC Thornton School of Music where instructors in composition included Donald Crockett, Stephen Hartke, Veronika Krausas, and others.  Köster is currentled enrolled at the HfMT Hamburg in his post graduate studies. 

Tristan Xavier Köster, geboren 1993 Los-Angeles ist ein deutsch-amerikanischer Komponist und Cellist. Er lebt seit Mai. 2015 in Hamburg. Köster arbeitet überwiegend mit Ensembles und Musikern in akustischen Einstellungen und schreibt Musik, die von den abstrakten, emotionalen Fähigkeiten unseres Hörens beeinflußt ist. In dem er den Musikern sehr viel künstlerische und interpretierenden Freiheit gibt, hofft er, dass seine Werke radikal interpretiert werden.

In seiner jungen Karriere, hat Köster schon mit vielen anerkannten Musikern und Organisationen gearbeitet. Unter anderem ist er bereits aufgetreten mit Shanghai Symphony, den Hamburger Symphonikern, dem Shanghai Philharmonic, mit Mitgliedern des LA Chamber Orchesters (Hearnow Fest. 2015), dem Varied Trio, dem Trio Catch, mit dem Mirror Strings Quartet, dem SoundScape Performance Exchange, mit Mark Dutcher, Tonali 2017 Festival, Aeon Ensemble’s UN Sustainable Arts Initiative und 2016 mit Eclectic Salon. Für sein Stück für Orchester und Tenor, „The Empty City Stratagem,“ ein Auftragswerk von der Shanghai Hochschule für Musik, hat er 2016 den renommierten BMI William Schuman Preis gewonnen.

Tristan Xavier Köster arbeitet gerade mit dem Bundesministerium für Kultur und Medien an dem internationalen Projekt “Zukunft der Orchesterkultur”. Seinen Bachelor Abschluss in Komposition hat Köster 2015 an der University of South California Thornton Hochschule für Musik bei den Professoren Frank Ticheli, Donald Crockett, und Stephen Hartke gemacht. 2018 schloss er seinen Master Abschluss an der Hamburger Hochschule für Musik und Theater bei Professor Xiaoyong Chen ab.

Ein Portrait CD seiner orchestralen Musik kann unter folgendem link heruntergeladen werden: tristanxkoester.bandcamp.com/releases

Photo Credits: Axel Koester Photography, 2012, 2015.