Lukas Foss (b. August 15, 1922, Berlin – d. February 1, 2009, New York City, New York). German-born American composer of mostly stage, orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, and piano works that have been performed throughout the world; he is also active as a conductor.
Mr. Foss was the son of a philosophy professor and a painter. He studied music theory and piano privately with Julius Goldstein-Herford as a child and began composing at age seven. He studied composition with Noël Gallon, flute with Louis Moyse, orchestration with Felix Wolfes, and piano with Lazare Lévy in Paris from 1933–37 and then studied composition with Rosario Scalero and Randall Thompson, conducting with Fritz Reiner and piano with Isabelle Vengerova at the Curtis Institute of Music from 1937–39. He studied composition with Paul Hindemith as a special student at Yale University in 1939–40 and studied conducting with Sergey Koussevitzky at Tanglewood from 1939–41. He is the recipient of more than 20 honorary doctorates.
Among his many honors are two Guggenheim fellowships (1945, 1960), the New York Music Critics' Circle Award (1945, for The Prairie; 1954, for Concerto No. 2 [piano]; 1961, for Time Cycle), a residency at the American Academy in Rome (1950–51), and a Fulbright Scholarship (1950–52). He was later elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1983) and his music was featured at a two-week festival in Buffalo (2003).
As a conductor, his specialty was contemporary music. He made his début in 1939. He later founded the quartet Improvisation Chamber Ensemble in Los Angeles in 1957 and served as its conductor from 1957–62. He then served as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra from 1963–70, as principal conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra from 1971–90, as a regular conductor of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra from 1972–75, and as music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra from 1981–86 and has served as its conductor laureate since 1986.
Mr. Foss was also active in other positions. He served as the pianist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1944–50.
He taught composition and conducting as Professor of Music at the University of California at Los Angeles from 1953–62 and later taught at Tanglewood. He founded the Center for Creative and Performing Arts at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1963. He has served as composer-in-residence at Carnegie-Mellon University, Harvard University, the Manhattan School of Music, and Yale University and he has served as composer-in-residence at Boston University since 1990. In addition, he presented the Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC in 1986.
He moved to the USA in 1937 and has became an American citizen in 1942.
Labels: Concord Chamber Music Society, Concord Chamber Players, Lukas Foss, Reference Recordings