Karl Leister (born June 15, 1937) is a classical clarinet player from Wilhelmshaven, Germany. At a very young age, he learned to play the clarinet from his father, also a clarinetist, and later studied at the Hochschule fur Musik in Berlin. As a teenager, he was accepted into the Komische Oper Berlin under Václav Neumann and Walter Felsenstein as clarinet soloist.
In 1959, Leister joined the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Herbert von Karajan; this eminently productive musical association was to last for thirty years. During this time, he became internationally recognized as a major soloist and chamber musician. He was also one of the founding members of the "Bläser der Berliner Philharmoniker"/Berlin Soloists, which made a number of masterful recordings – including Brahms's "Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Opus 115". Additionally, he co-founded the Ensemble Wien-Berlin.
The creation of the Herbert von Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra has permitted Leister to teach music to a whole new generation of musicians. Leister currently holds the position of Professor at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler, Berlin.