Composer, Boston University
American Academy Distinguished Visitor - Class of Spring 2003
Lukas Foss enjoyed equally stellar reputations as composer, conductor, pianist, educator and spokesman for his art. As Music Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, and Milwaukee Symphony, Foss was an effective champion of living composers and brought new life to the standard repertoire. In 1937, as a 15-year-old prodigy, Foss came to America to study at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. By age 18, he had graduated with honors from Curtis and was headed for advanced study, in conducting, with Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood and in composition with Paul Hindemith at Yale University.
Foss was named to succeed Arnold Schönberg as professor of composition at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1953. In his composed works, Foss began probing and questioning the ideas of tonality, notation, and fixed form. Foss earned respect as an educator as well: He has taught composition at Tanglewod and has been composer-in-residence at Harvard, the Manhattan School of Music, Carnegie Mellon University, Yale University, and Boston University. In 1983, Foss was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.