A giant of classical music died this week: Lukas Foss. Was he as well known as Leonard Bernstein or Aaron Copland? No, I am sorry to say. There’s something about the way classical music is changing, where it seems that only the most marquee names are remembered. That’s a shame.

Foss was a powerhouse of a talent: conductor, composer, pianist. The glory days of the Milwaukee Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and Brooklyn Philharmonic, were all tied to Foss’s tenure, one that highlighted new music.

He had a reputation for sight reading the most difficult new scores at a first rehearsal, which some found to be a hallmark of genius, while others found it less than respectful to the composer in particular.

When they say they don’t make ’em like they used to, that was certainly the case with Lukas Foss. Want to discover the genius of his work as a composer: listen to Time Cycle…It is a masterpiece.

“I strongly suggest that we play down basics like who influenced whom, and instead study the way the influence is transformed, in other words: how the artist made it his own.”
Lukas Foss

“To come to grips with creativity, I must ask creative, adventurous questions – the kind which, in all likelihood, cannot be answered.”
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. Yet he is presented in the play Amadeus as a kind of silly boy whom the gods loved.”
Lukas Foss

Richard Kessler