Oliver Knussen on Lukas Foss

Echoi performed by New Fromm Players at FCM. Photo: Hilary Scott

At the preconcert lecture at Tanglewood on Monday night, Oliver Knussen had this to say about Lukas Foss’ Echoi, which was featured on the 2010 Festival of Contemporary Music. “When you look at a work like Echoi, which is filled with all of this crazy improv stuff that’s very much of its time – the early ’60s – whatever strange systems Lukas used to create the music, he always chose the ‘right notes.’ There was an innate musicality there that transcended the chaos to create very affecting music. Many other composers’ works from that era haven’t worn well and sound dated, but Echoi remains a piece that really works.”

“When Lukas passed away, I took out all my old LPs of his music and put them onto my computer. I’ve really been enjoying go through and listening to them again. I’ve been sharing them with friends, and many of them, including a number of young composers, are just blown away by the music.”

Sounds like Foss deserves a revival. And, in my opinion, Knussen’s the man to do it!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear his Foss mixtape – fancy a trade, Olly?

2 thoughts on “Oliver Knussen on Lukas Foss

  1. Am very sorry I missed this piece (not to mention everything else at FCM this year), particularly since most of the Foss works I know are from the 1970s, when he had made a sharp turn toward minimalism (not my cup of tea).
    However the main point of this brief comment is to say that the 1960s are in my opinion very much in need of a rescue operation. Many composers had become self-consciously avant-garde (on the one hand) while determined to be politically and socially relevant, AND open to every aural influence under the sun, from electro-acoustic to jam rock. (Hmmm. Sound familiar?) Meanwhile Sessions and Babbitt and Piston and Riegger (the list goes on and on) and some of their students continued working in the mainstream modernist tradition. And here I am mentioning only the American composers. To me there is absolutely nothing dated about their work.

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