Foss (Fuchs), Lukas

views updated


FOSS (Fuchs), LUKAS (1922– ), U.S. composer, pianist, and conductor. Born in Berlin, he immigrated to the U.S. in 1937. He was pianist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1944 to 1950. He was the youngest composer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship (1945), appeared as soloist in his own piano concertos with a number of orchestras in the U.S. and Europe, and conducted his first symphony in Pittsburgh in 1945. He taught composition at the Berkshire Music Center and at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1963 he was appointed conductor and music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra where he remained until 1970, when he became a freelance conductor and was visiting professor at Harvard University. He was chief conductor and advisor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority's Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra from 1972 until 1975. A precocious talent, he had some pieces published at the age of 15. His early works are neo-romantic in nature. Among them the most important are the cantata The Prairie (1942), the cantata Song of Songs (1947), an opera after Mark Twain The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (1950), the cantata A Parable of Death (1953), the television opera Griffelkin (1955), and Time Cycle for soprano and orchestra (1960). Then Foss turned to ultramodernism using the extreme procedures of the avant-garde, including aleatory devices of "controlled improvisation." To this period belong his Echoi for instruments (1963) and Elytres for chamber orchestra (1964). His Phorion for strings, electronic organ, and amplified harpsichord and harp (1967) is a metamorphosis of a Bach prelude. In his later works Foss strove to combine his earlier, sometimes more conservative and sometimes specifically American, style with experiments of his modernist period (American Cantata, 1976; Renaissance Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, 1985). As a conductor, Foss always sought to popularize new music; in 1973 in Brooklyn he began "Meet the Moderns," a series of new music concerts as well as discussions with composers.

add. bibliography:

ng2; mgg2; K.J. Perone, Lukas Foss: A Bio-Bibliography (1991).

[Nicolas Slonimsky /

Yulia Kreinin (2nd ed.)]