Foss, Lukas (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 is 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 is 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 is 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 has lived in the USA since 1937 and has been an American citizen since 1942.
He is married to the painter Cornelia Foss.
Carl Fischer publishes most of his music.
Street address: Mr. Lukas Foss, c/o Carl Fischer, 65 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012, USA
COMPLETE LIST OF WORKS
STAGE: The Tempest (incidental music, play by William Shakespeare), 1939–40 (one section may be performed separately as a concert work: Where the bee sucks); The Heart Remembers (ballet), piano, 1944; Within these Walls (ballet), piano, 1944; Gift of the Magi (ballet), 1944 (a concert suite was arranged as Pantomime); Capriccio (ballet), cello, piano, 1946; The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (1 act opera, libretto by Jean Karsavina, after Mark Twain), mezzo-soprano, 2 tenors, 2 baritones, 2 basses, mixed chorus, orchestra (5 winds, 5 brass, piano, percussion, strings), 1949; Griffelkin (3 act opera, libretto by Alastair Reid), 13 sopranos, 4 mezzo-sopranos, alto, tenor, 2 baritones, 2 basses, mixed chorus, orchestra, 1953–55 (a concert suite was arranged; one section may be performed separately as a concert work: Parade; also concert version of one section as March); Introductions and Goodbyes (1 act opera, libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti), baritone, mixed chorus, flute, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, harp ad libitum, piano, string orchestra, 1959
ORCHESTRAL: Two Pieces, 1941; Concerto No. 1, clarinet, orchestra, 1941 (also version as Concerto No. 1, piano, orchestra, 1943); The Prairie, 1944 (suite from cantata); Ode, large orchestra, 1944, revised 1958; Symphony No. 1 in G major, 1944; Three American Pieces, flute/violin, small orchestra (flute, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, piano, timpani, percussion, strings), 1944; Pantomime, 1945 (concert suite from Gift of the Magi); Recordare, 1948; Elegy, clarinet, orchestra, 1949; Concerto No. 2, piano, orchestra (12 winds, 9 brass, piano, timpani, percussion, strings), 1949–51, revised 1953; Parade, 1955 (section of Griffelkin; may be performed separately as a concert work); Symphony No. 2, 'Symphony of Chorales', large orchestra, 1955–58; Concert, cello, small orchestra (2 French horns, trumpet, trombone, piano, organ, percussion, strings), 1966; For 24 Winds, small orchestra (15 winds, 9 brass), 1966 (also version for small orchestra [12 winds, 12 brass], 1966); Baroque Variations, large orchestra (10 winds, 10 brass, electric guitar, electric piano, electronic organ, harpsichord, celesta, 4 percussion, strings), 1967 (each of its three sections may be performed separately: On a Handel Larghetto; On a Scarlatti Sonata; On a Bach Prelude; also version of On a Bach Prelude as Phorion, orchestra [8 winds, 5 brass, electric guitar, electric piano, electronic organ, 3 percussion, strings], 1994); Geod, mixed chorus ad libitum, variable folk ensemble, orchestra, 1969; Orpheus, violin/viola/cello, small orchestra, 1972 (also version as Orpheus and Euridice, 2 violins, small orchestra, tape, 1983); Fanfare, 1973; Concerto, percussion, orchestra, 1974; Salomone Rossi Suite, 1974; Folksong, 1975–76, revised 1978; Quintets, 1979 (version of Brass Quintet); Night Music for John Lennon (Prelude, Fugue and Chorale), French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, small orchestra (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, electric guitar, piano, percussion, strings), 1980–81; Exeunt, large orchestra, 1982; For 200 Cellos (A Celebration), 1982; Solo Observed, piano, small orchestra (flute, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, strings), 1982 (version of piano work; also version for piano, ensemble [harp/cello, organ/accordion, vibraphone/marimba]; version as Solo Transformed, piano, small orchestra [6 winds, French horn, 2 trumpets, 1-2 percussion, strings], 2000)
ORCHESTRAL: Renaissance Concerto, flute, small orchestra (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, harp, harpsichord ad libitum, timpani, percussion, strings), 1985; Griffelkin, 1986 (concert suite from opera); Concerto No. 2, clarinet, small orchestra (flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, trumpet, trombone, piano, 1-2 percussion, strings), 1988; For Lenny (Variation on NY, NY), obbligato piano, orchestra, 1988; American Landscapes (concerto), guitar, small orchestra, 1989; March, small orchestra (12 winds, 11 brass, timpani, percussion), 1989 (concert version of section of Griffelkin); American Fanfare, 1990 (also version for amplified harp/electric guitar, double bass, amplified piano, synthesizer/electronic organ, symphonic band, 1990); Symphony No. 3, 'Symphony of Sorrows', speaker ad libitum, obbligato piano, large orchestra, 1989–91 (one section may be performed separately: Elegy for Anne Frank, speaker ad libitum, obbligato piano, small orchestra [2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, percussion, strings], 1989); Concerto for the Left Hand, piano left hand, orchestra, 1993; Symphony No. 4, 'Window to the Past', large orchestra, 1995; For Tōru, flute, string orchestra, 1996 (also version for flute, string quartet, double bass); Capriccio, cello, small orchestra, 1999; Celebration, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, orchestra, 1999; Concerto, symphonic band, 2002; For Aaron, small orchestra (12 players), 2002
CHAMBER MUSIC: Sonata, violin, piano, 1937; Four Preludes, flute, clarinet, bassoon, 1940; Duo (Fantasia), cello, piano, 1941; Three Pieces, violin, piano, 1944 (also version as Three Early Pieces, flute, piano, 1986); String Quartet No. 1 in G major, 1947; Studies in Improvisation, clarinet, French horn, cello, piano, percussion, 1959; Echoi, clarinet, cello, piano, percussion, 1961–63; Elytres, flute, 2 violins, ensemble (harp, 3 violins, 2 pianos, 3 percussion), 1964; Non-Improvisation, clarinet, cello, piano/harpsichord, electronic organ, percussion ad libitum, 1967; Paradigm, electric guitar/electric sitar, percussion-conductor, any 3 players, 1968, revised 1969; MAP (Musicians at Play) (musical game), any 4-5 players (with referee), tape recorder (with operator), 1970; Ni bruit, ni vitesse, 2 pianos, 2 percussion, 1971; La Grotte des Vents, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1972; String Quartet No. 2, 'Divertissement pour Mica', 1973; String Quartet No. 3, 1975; Curriculum Vitae, accordion, 1977 (also version as Curriculum Vitae with Time Bomb, accordion, percussion, 1980); Music for Six, any 6 treble-clef instruments, 1977, revised 1978; Brass Quintet, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, 1978 (also version as Quintets); Round a Common Center, mezzo-soprano ad libitum, speaker ad libitum, 1-2 violins, viola, cello, piano, 1979; Solo Observed, piano, ensemble (harp/cello, electronic organ/accordion, vibraphone/marimba), 1982 (version of orchestral work); Quartet, 4 percussion, 1983; Trio, French horn, violin, piano, 1983; Quartet, 4 saxophones, 1985; Tashi, clarinet, piano, string quartet, 1986; Chaconne, guitar, 1987; Central Park Reel, violin, piano, 1989; For Tōru, flute, string quartet, double bass, 1996 (version of orchestral work); String Quartet No. 4, 1998; String Quartet No. 5, 2000
CHORAL: The Prairie (cantata, text by Carl Sandburg), soprano, alto, tenor, bass, mixed chorus, orchestra, 1943 (a suite without voices was arranged); Adon Olom: A Prayer, cantor/tenor, mixed chorus, organ, 1948; Behold! I Build a House (text from the Bible), mixed chorus, organ, 1950; A Parable of Death (text by Rainer Maria Rilke [English translation]), tenor, speaker, mixed chorus, piano, organ, percussion, string orchestra, 1952; Psalms, mixed chorus, small orchestra (2 French horns, trumpet, trombone, harp, 2 pianos, organ, timpani, strings), 1955–56 (also versions for mixed chorus, 2 pianos, 1956; mixed chorus, small orchestra [2 flutes, 2 clarinets, bassoon, 2 French horns, trumpet, trombone, harp, 2 pianos, timpani, strings], 1956); The Fragments of Archilochos, countertenor, female speaker, male speaker, 4 choral groups, mixed chorus ad libitum, guitar, mandolin, 3 percussion, 1965; Three Airs for Frank O'Hara's Angel (text by Frank O'Hara), soprano, male speaker, female chorus, flute, piano, 2 percussion, 1972; Lamdeni – Teach Me (text from Hebrew sources), mixed chorus, any 6 players, 1973; American Cantata (texts by the composer, Arie Sachs), soprano, tenor, female speaker, male speaker, mixed chorus, orchestra, 1976, revised 1977; Then the Rocks on the Mountain Began to Shout (text by Walt Whitman), 5 mixed voices, 1978; With Music Strong (text by Walt Whitman), mixed chorus, orchestra, 1979; De Profundis, mixed chorus, 1983; Sanctus, mixed chorus, orchestra, 1994
VOCAL: Where the bee sucks (text by William Shakespeare), medium voice, piano, 1940 (section of The Tempest; may be performed separately as a concert work); Melodrama and Dramatic Song for Michelangelo, any voice, orchestra, 1940; Song of Anguish (text from the Book of Isaiah), baritone/bass, large orchestra, 1945; Song of Songs, soprano/mezzo-soprano, orchestra, 1946; Time Cycle (song-cycle, texts by Wystan Hugh Auden, A.E. Housman, Franz Kafka, Friedrich Nietzsche), soprano, orchestra (2 flutes, 2 clarinets, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, trombone, harp, timpani, percussion, strings), 1959–60 (also version for soprano, clarinet, cello, celesta, percussion, 1960); Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (text by Wallace Stevens), soprano/mezzo-soprano, flute, piano, percussion, tape, 1978; Measure for Measure (text by William Shakespeare), tenor, small orchestra, 1980
PIANO: Four Two-Part Inventions, 1938; Grotesque Dance, 1938; Sonatina, 1939; Set of Three Pieces, 2 pianos, 1940; Passacaglia, 1941; Fantasy Rondo, 1944; Prelude in D major, 1949; Scherzo ricercato, 1953; Solo, 1981 (also versions as Solo Observed; Solo Transformed)
ORGAN: Four Études, 1967; War and Peace, 1995
(Last updated on February 2, 2009)