born on 15/8/1922 in Berlin, Germany
died on 1/2/2009
Lukas Foss (August 15, 1922 February 1, 2009) was an American composer, pianist, and conductor.
Born 'Lukas Fuchs' in Berlin, Germany in 1922, Foss was soon recognized as a child prodigy. He began piano and theory lessons with Julius Goldstein [Herford] in Berlin at the age of six. His father was the philosopher and scholar Martin Fuchs. Upon moving with his family to Paris in 1933, where he studied piano with Lazare Lévy, composition with Noël Gallon, orchestration with Felix Wolfes, and flute with Louis Moyse. In 1937 he moved with his parents and brother to the United States, where his father (on advice from the Quakers who had taken the family in upon arrival in Philadelphia) changed the family name from Fuchs to Foss. He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, with Isabelle Vengerova (piano), Rosario Scalero (composition) and Fritz Reiner (conducting).
At Curtis, Foss began a lifelong friendship with classmate Leonard Bernstein, who later described Foss as an "authentic genius." In 1961 Bernstein would conduct the premiere of Foss's Time Cycle, while Foss would conduct the premiere of Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.
Foss also studied with Sergei Koussevitzky during the summers from 1939 to 1943 at the Berkshire Music Center (now known as the Tanglewood Music Center) and, as a special student, composition with Paul Hindemith at Yale University from 1939 to 1940. He became an American citizen in 1942.
Foss was appointed professor of music at UCLA in 1953, replacing Arnold Schoenberg. While there he founded the Improvisation Chamber Ensemble, which made its Boston debut in 1962 for the Peabody Mason Concert series. He founded the Center for Creative and Performing Arts in 1963 while at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
From 1963 to 1970 he was Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. From 1971-1988 he was Music Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic (formerly Brooklyn Philharmonia). From 1981 to 1986, he was conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. He was a Professor of Music, Theory, and Composition at Boston University beginning in 1991. His notable students include Faye-Ellen Silverman, Claire Polin and Rocco Di Pietro.
He was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity.
Lukas Foss, who was afflicted with Parkinson's disease in his final years, died at his home in Manhattan on February 1, 2009, aged 86, of a heart attack.
- See List of compositions by Lukas Foss
- Wife: Cornelia Brendel Foss, artist/painter; born in Berlin in 1931, married in 1951
- Son: Christopher Brendel Foss, documentary filmmaker, corporate consultant on social and environmental engagement/sustainability communications
- Daughter: Eliza Foss Topol, actress
- Rubin, Susan G: Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein (2011). Watertown, MA. Charlesbridge. ISBN 9781580893442. Page 142-3.
- 2.0 2.1 Obituary for Composer Lukas Foss, Opera News, July 2009, vol 74, no. 1. URL accessed on June 20, 2009.
- 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Allan Kozinn, Lukas Foss, Composer at Home in Many Stylistic Currents, Dies at 86, New York Times, March 29, 1998. URL accessed on June 20, 2009.
- Christian Science Monitor, 23 March 1962, Louis Chapin, "Lukas Foss at Sanders", Boston
- Delta Omicron
- Passenger list of the S.S. Volendam, port of New York, 21 September 1939. Passenger list of the S.S. Mauretania, port of New York, 15 October 1951. Revisiting 'The Prairie', The New Yorker, July 23, 2007.
- [Lukas Foss at All Music Guide Allmusic: Lukas Foss]
- Humanities Web: Lukas Foss Index
- CDeMusic: Lukas Foss
- New Albion Artists: Lukas Foss
- Lukas Foss Lecture A Twentieth-Century Composer's Confessions about the Creative Process
- Art of the States: Lukas Foss
- Lukas Foss interview by Gabrielle Zuckerman, from American Mavericks site
- Lukas Foss interview by Terry Gross, from Fresh Air program, originally broadcast October 7, 1987
- Interview with Lukas Foss by Bruce Duffie, February 2, 1987