Sunday, 27 September 2009


LUKAS FOSS (1922-2009) was the German-American pianist, conductor and composer who is best associated with the Buffalo Philharmonic and Brooklyn Philharmonic orchestras. He was a one-time student of Paul Hindemith and Fritz Reiner. He conducted the Asian Youth Orchestra in Mahler's Symphony No.4 (with Elly Ameling) in August 1992 at the Singapore Conference Hall.
Here is an anecdote he related as I drove him back to his hotel: As the ensemble pianist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in his youth, he was present at the World Premiere in December 1944 of Bela Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra conducted by Serge Koussevitzky. Sitting next to the composer, he brashly stated that finale had ended too abruptly for his liking. Heeding the young man's comments, Bartok rewrote the ending of the work, which is the version we are now familiar with. (The original version may be heard in the RCA Victor recording by the Saint Louis Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin).

Gossip: His wife was for several years in the 1960s the mistress and live-in partner of Glenn Gould. "You'll be back," the Maestro said, and he was right.

SIR EDWARD DOWNES (1924-2009) was the Director of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he made some wonderful recordings of orchestral music of Ottorino Respighi and Reinhold Gliere on the Chandos label. I attended a concert at Royal Festival Hall in October 1989, where he conducted the BBC Philharmonic in Brahms' Symphony No.3, Schoenberg's Violin Concerto (with a very young Christian Tetzlaff) and the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.

ERICH KUNZEL (1935-2009) was the long-time conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, which has made tons of recordings on the Telarc label. He conducted the orchestra at the Esplanade in October 2005 as part of its Asian tour celebrating 40 years at its helm.

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