Boston University Celebrates 80th Birthday of Esteemed Faculty Member Lukas Foss

Contact: Elly Muller, 617/353-7293 |

(Boston, Mass.) – On November 26, Boston University celebrates the 80th birthday of acclaimed composer and esteemed faculty member Lukas Foss with a special concert at Symphony Hall. The Boston University Symphony Orchestra will premiere Symphonic Fantasy, Foss’s newest work, especially commissioned by the University for this occasion. The evening’s program will also include Brahms’s Schicksalslied with the Boston University Symphonic Chorus and Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations.

The concert-one of two the Boston University Symphony Orchestra will perform at Symphony Hall this academic year-begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35, $20 and $10, and go on sale November 1st through the Symphony Hall box office.

One of America’s most acclaimed living composers, Foss, a contemporary and close friend of Leonard Bernstein’s, began composing at the age of seven. At 23, he was the youngest composer ever to receive a Guggenheim fellowship. Aaron Copland has called his considerable body of work “among the most original and stimulating compositions in American music.” Foss’s signature works include Time Cycle (1959-60) and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1978). Both are vocal settings with chamber-music accompaniment. Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic premiered Time Cycle, a work set to texts about time by Auden, Houseman, Kafka, and Nietzsche, in 1960.

Foss began his professional career as a pianist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Since then, he has been a principal conductor or music director with such orchestras as the Buffalo Philharmonic in New York, the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the Milwaukee Symphony.

During the course of his long career, Foss has taught composition at Tanglewood and the University of California at Los Angeles, and been a composer-in-residence at Harvard University, the Manhattan School of Music, Carnegie Mellon University and Yale University. In 1983, he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, of which he is now a vice chancellor.

From his earliest days as a musical wunderkind, Foss has achieved equal acclaim as a composer, conductor, pianist, educator, and spokesman for his art. The prestigious honors, awards, and appointments he has enjoyed emphasize his importance as one of the most brilliant and respected personalities in American music.

Since 1991, Foss has been on the faculty of Boston University College of Fine Arts’ School of Music, where he remains an active professor of music theory and composition.

Concert Program
In addition to the premiere of Symphonic Fantasy, the concert will feature the Boston University Symphonic Chorus performing Johannes Brahms’s Schicksalslied. This seldom-performed choral work is based on Friedrich Hölderlin’s poem Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny) from his 1799 novel, Hyperion, oder Der Eremit aus Griechenland (Hyperion, or The Hermit from Greece). Brahms was fascinated by the poem because of his own interests in Greek antiquity, especially the concept of fate or destiny.
The concert will conclude with Edward Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations. When the work was first performed in London in 1899, it became clear that Elgar, a provincial violinist, conductor, part-time composer and music teacher, had become England’s finest composer. In the variation form, Elgar found the balance of freedom and discipline and created a work of orchestral music that rivaled the output of the continent.

Concert Prelude
On Saturday before the Symphony Hall concert, Boston University’s School of Music will host a symposium, New Music and Its Public. The symposium, moderated by Theodore Antoniou, professor at the School of Music and founder and music director of ALEA III, will feature Lukas Foss, Phyllis Curtin, dean emerita, Boston University College of Fine Arts; Leon Kirchner, composer and professor emeritus at Harvard University; and Mark DeVoto, composer and professor at Tufts University. The symposium, held on November 23 at 2 pm in the Concert Hall @ 855, is free and open to the general public.

About Boston University College of Fine Arts’ School of MusicBoston University College of Fine Arts is a conservatory-style school within a major research university, offering a liberal arts education along with professional training in Music, Theatre Arts, and Visual Arts to 1000 graduate and undergraduate students. Education at the College of Fine Arts begins at Boston University and extends into the city of Boston, a center of cultural, artistic and intellectual activity.

The College of Fine Arts’ School of Music, founded in 1873, combines the intimacy and intensity of conservatory training with the broader perspectives of a traditional liberal arts education. While the emphasis is strongly on music, the School enriches its programs with a range of electives, made available through the other schools and colleges within Boston University. The School offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Performance, Theory and Composition, Musicology, Music Education, Collaborative Piano (graduate only), Conducting (graduate only), as well as an Artist Diploma in Performance and a certificate program with the Boston University Opera Institute.

Alumni and faculty are found in major symphony orchestras, opera companies and prestigious ensembles throughout the world. In addition to Lukas Foss, notable faculty members include opera singer Phyllis Curtin and violinist Roman Totenberg. Notable alumni include Fred Bronstein, president of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; the opera singer Dominique LaBelle; and Ikuko Mizuno-Spire, violinist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Throughout the academic year, the School of Music offers a wide variety of public performances. For further information and a calendar of events, log on to
Tuesday, November 26 at 8 pm Saturday, November 23 at 2pm

Boston University Orchestra

Symposium: New Music and its Public

Concert at Symphony Hall

Concert Hall @855 Tickets: $35, $20, and $10

Boston University College of Fine Arts

Symphony Hall Box Office: 617/266-1200

855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston

On sale November 1

Admission is free and open to the public

Public: 617/353-3349 for updates

Media only: For further information or to reserve press tickets, please contact Elly Muller at the College of Fine Arts, 617-353-7293 or

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