Lukas Foss

Anybody can put things together that belong together. To put things together that don't go together and make it work - that takes genius like Mozart's. - Lukas Foss

The German-born American composer, conductor and pianist was born Lukas Fuchs on 15 August 1922 in Berlin, studying initially with Julius Goldstein-Herford, then in Paris with Noël Gallon. He moved to the USA in 1937, changing his name to Lukas Foss, and continued his studies - composition with Rosario Scalero, piano with Isabelle Vengerova and conducting with Fritz Reiner at the Curtis Institute, but also with Koussevitzky at Tanglewood and Paul Hindemith at Yale.

Considered an important voice in the American contemporary music world from the outset of his career there, he replaced Arnold Schoenberg as professor of music at UCLA in 1953 and, creating the Improvisation Chamber Ensemble, attempted to lead his composition students away from 'the tyranny of the printed note'. He also taught at the University of Buffalo and at Boston University. He's normally grouped with Arthur Berger, Irving Fine, Alexei Haieff, Harold Shapero and Rocco Di Pietro as the Boston School of Composers. His witty music took, initially, a neoclassical direction, embracing aleatoric techniques, serialism and controlled improvisation, whilst later works tended to be more polystylistic.

During the 1980s he was conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Foss died on 1 February 2009 in New York City, USA, aged 86.

A selection of articles about Lukas Foss

Classical music news. Obituary - Leon Fleisher (1928-2020)

Ensemble. Musical Values - Lara Downes plays Coleridge-Taylor, Chopin, Bloch, Bernstein transcriptions and Gershwin, heard by Mike Wheeler

Ensemble. A Class Of Its Own - Lawrence Budmen listens to the Cleveland Orchestra