Obituary: Lukas Foss, 86

Posted on: February 2, 2009

Foss.jpgIn Sunday’s (2/1) New York Times, Allan Kozinn reports, “Lukas Foss, a prolific and versatile composer who was also a respected pianist and conductor, died at his home in Manhattan on Sunday. He was 86, and also had a home in Bridgehampton, N.Y. … Although he was a German émigré, Mr. Foss was, from the start of his composing career, considered an important voice in the burgeoning world of American composition, along with Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Elliott Carter and Leonard Bernstein. And like Bernstein, he enthusiastically championed the works of his colleagues. … He took particular pleasure in finding common ground between opposing languages and techniques. … Sometimes Mr. Foss would combine contemporary styles with those of the distant musical past. His ‘Baroque Variations’ (1967) is a partly improvisatory, partly mischievous deconstruction of works by Handel, Scarlatti and Bach. … Mr. Foss was aware that his detractors regarded his style-hopping as the sign of a dabbler, and that the critics complained that he tended to follow stylistic trends rather than to originate them. He rejected those criticisms and took particular pride in the fact that even listeners who followed his music closely never knew what to expect of his latest works.” Foss also held primary conducting posts at the Buffalo Philharmonic, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony, and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Photo credit Ken Howard