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A happy ending

Foss Since former Buffalo Philharmonic Music Director Lukas Foss died on Sunday, people have been telling Foss stories around town. JoAnn Falletta, remembering Foss a couple of days after his death, had a good one. It's relevant, too, because the piece of music she is talking about is on the Philharmonic's program this weekend.

That is Foss pictured at left. Falletta worked with him while he was directing the Milwaukee Symphony, from 1980 until 1986. At one point, she was conducting Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. This touched off a reminiscence from Foss.

"He said he was there for the first performance," Falletta said. "It was 1944, in Boston. He must have been 21. He turned to Bartok and said, 'Mr. Bartok, the end just doesn't work!'

"Can you imagine the chutzpah? He said Bartok just bristled! But when the score came out, there was a second, alternative, ending! We always do that now! That was due to Lukas. It just hit me! We have Lukas to thank for the ending that works! The other ending was abrupt! The audience sat there, thinking, 'Did I miss something?'"

Just another facet of Foss' offbeat legacy.

"I was very arrogant when I was young. I was never afraid of anything," Foss said to me when I got to interview him back in 2003. Now I see what he was talking about.

The BPO will be playing Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, with the ending Foss inspired, Friday at 10:30 a.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Kleinhans Music Hall. Also on the program are Ravel's "Mother Goose Suite" and Dohnanyi's "Variations on a Nursery Theme," featuring the gifted young Siberian pianist Eldar Nebolsin. The concert is a tribute to longtime BPO associate concertmaster Harry Taub, and opens with Taub's bittersweet "Psalm."

For info on the concert, call 885-5000 or go to

-- Mary Kunz Goldman




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