German violinist Bernhard Forck has been an important figure in Berlin's early music scene since the early 1980s. He has also played contemporary music in chamber groups.
Forck was born in Altdöbern, in the former East Germany, in 1963. He started violin lessons at age five and soon settled on the violin as a career choice. Forck entered the Musikhochschule Berlin (now the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler) in East Berlin, studying with Eberhard Feltz. At the university he encountered the Baroque violin, not at the time common in Communist-ruled countries, and other historical violins. Immediately fascinated, he took courses with Baroque players and conductors including Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Ingrid Seifert. In 1984, even before his 1986 graduation, he joined the new Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin (founded in 1982), and rose through the ranks to become the group's concertmaster. Forck has been a key contributor to the group's sound over the years, conducting research into historical performance practices relevant to the music performed. He has performed with the Akademie not only across Europe and the Americas, but in Japan, the Middle East, and southeast Asia and Australia as it became, thanks in part to his work, one of continental Europe's most popular early music groups. He has also played with the Barocksolisten Berlin (Berlin Baroque Soloists).
Forck has also been active as a player of the modern violin. From 1986 to 1991, he was a member of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra (now the Konzerthausorchester), and in 1994 he founded the Manon Quartett Berlin, which has been devoted to the performance of contemporary music, specifically that of the Second Viennese School. The group spent a season as quartet-in-residence at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts.
In later life, Forck has devoted more of his energies to conducting. In 2007, he became music director of the Handel Festival Orchestra in Halle, Germany, and he has conducted the orchestra in productions of Handel's operas Alcina and Orlando there. In 2019, Forck joined German violinist Isabelle Faust and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin in recordings of multiple-violin concertos of Bach, released on the Harmonia Mundi label.