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Lukas Foss

February 2, 2009 Leave a comment

foss

I was sorry to read today that the composer-conductor-pianist Lukas Foss died yesterday. I never saw him conduct, and I heard very little of his music, but I have the fondest memories of him. He spent the 1970-1971 academic year as a visiting faculty member at Harvard, and by happy coincidence that’s the year I took the year-long survey course Music 1. David Hughes was the instructor, but Hughes would bring in guest lecturers on occasion, and Lukas Foss was a regular guest. His appearances were the highlight of the course. Well, that’s not quite true. The highlight of the course was the music. Every day brought new discoveries for me, immersed as I was at the time in rock music and ignorant as I was of classical. I would sit in the language lab in the basement of Boylston Hall and listen to tape after tape. But the highlight of my time in the Paine Hall lecture room was Lukas Foss, with his warm personality, sense of humor, impromptu playing of pieces at the piano, and delightful accent.

Reading the obituary, I see that his year at Harvard was the year between his service (1963-1970) as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and his becoming principal conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra (1971–90). The following two paragraphs from the NYT obituary give some idea of his significance:
Read more…

Categories: Music

NFL Supports Troops

February 2, 2009 Leave a comment

I joined Gail to watch the Super Bowl coverage yesterday just as the coin-toss participants come onto the field for the pre-game ritual. Having not read about the special guest coin tosser, I was surprised to see General Petraeus being introduced in that role. And disappointed. I would prefer that football just be football, not an exercise in patriotism and support for the troops. Today I read the article at the US Army news website by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden about the coin toss. Below are quotes from an NFL spokesman:

“The NFL has had a longstanding tradition of supporting the military,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told American Forces Press Service during a phone interview. “We have a great appreciation for what the military does and feel honored to include the military in the Super Bowl.” …

“[The NFL] feels that the 70,000 fans attending the Super Bowl this year should be cheering louder for the military than the two teams playing,” he said. “It is, indeed, very important for the NFL to look for every opportunity to support the troops.”

It’s hard to take this quote seriously. Indeed, the NFL doesn’t even look for every opportunity to support its own former players with medical problems. And anyway, what does it even mean for the NFL as an entity to have great appreciation for what the military does?

In any case, here’s an idea. Why doesn’t the NFL have each team donate some modest percentage of its profits to the welfare of our veterans?

Categories: Society, Sports