Tristan Foison

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Tristan Foison (born 6 November 1961)[1] is a French musician and composer. He is most famous for attempting to claim a composition by Alfred Desenclos as his own, but actually fabricated many details about his life.

Early life[edit]

Foison was born and raised in France. He was adopted by Michele Foison, a professional musician and student of Olivier Messiaen. He learned to play the Ondes Martenot and later tried to study it at the Conservatoire de Paris, but was rejected. Tristan Foison then studied first at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Boulogne-Billancourt and from 1985 at the Conservatoire Saint-Maur-des-Fossés. He now lives near Paris.[2]


He claimed to have won the Peabody Mason International Piano Competition, the Geneva International Music Competition and the Georges Bizet Competition, as well as conducted orchestras including London Symphony Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Prague Symphony Orchestra or the Orchestre de Paris. He also claimed to have been chosen by Vladimir Ashkenazy to perform with him the Concerto for 2 Pianos by Mozart with the Paris Orchestra in 1987. Later that year, he emigrated to the US and settled in Atlanta. He made his living as a musician, worked at the Peggy Still School of Music and was music director of the Rome Symphony Orchestra in Rome, Georgia. He performed in concerts on the piano and the Ondes Martenot and composed classical music.[3][4][5]


  • Seven Melodies, for voice and piano (performed by Beryl Lee Heuermann and Tristan Foison on 24 November 1990 at the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans[6])
  • I listen to the silence of my dream, greater still than oblivion, for ondes Martenot, percussion and strings (performed by the Atlanta Virtuosi on 8 May 1988 at the Emory University's Cannon Chapel in Atlanta[7])
  • Chants et Silences de Temps Immemoriaux, for soprano, choir, ondes Martenot, organ, tape and orchestra (performed by Nancy Assaf (soprano), the Loyola University Choir under Lynn Sjolund and an unknown orchestra under John Shenaut on 14 November 1989 at the Loyola Nunemaker Hall in New Orleans[8])
  • Oraison, for cello and piano (performed by Dorothy and Cary Lewis on 15 May 1993 at the Harmony Grove United Methodist Church in Lilburn (GA)[9])
  • Suite Liturgique, for chorus (performed by the DeKalb Choral Guild on 1 November 1992 at the Emory Presbyterian Church in Decatur[10])
  • Five motets, for choir (two motets were performed by the William Baker Singers on 11 September 1993 in the Spivey Hall in Atlanta[11])
  • La Baleine, children's opera (performed by the Honors Chorus of Cedarwood School under David Kemp at the First Christian Church in Mandeville (LA) on 7 May 1992[12])
  • La Foret, children's opera (performed by the Honors Chorus of Cedarwood School under David Kemp at the St. Joseph Abbey in Covington (LA) on 2 April 1993[13])
  • Chrysalide, for ondes Martenot, harp and 3 strings (commissioned by the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta for its opening; the work was premiered on 1 November 1992 at the great hall of the museum[14])
  • L'Enfant Musique, for narrator, soloists and children's chorus (performed by the Young Singers of Callanwolde under Stephen Ortlip with narrator Carl Jacobsen on 1 October 1994 at the St. Luke's Presbyterian Church in Dunwoody (GA)[15])
  • Missa Solemnis, for choir (performed by DeKalb Choral Guild under Mary Root at the Decatur First United Methodist Church in Decatur (GA) on 22 January 1994[16])
  • Incarnati Verbum Mysterium, for soloists, choir, orchestra, tape and narrators with visual effects (performed on 30 April 2000 by performers of the Peggy Still School of Music and the Georgia Regional Girls Choir at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center in Roswell (GA)[17])
  • The Emperor's New Clothes, music for an original adaption of the tale by Hans Christian Andersen with book and lyrics by Gail Deschamps and music by Tristan Foison (performed on 4 November 1995 at the Reinhardt College Burgess Auditorium in Waleska (GA)[18])
  • Requiem, for chorus (performed by the Capitol Hill Chorale under Fred Binkholder at the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. on 18 May 2001[19])
  • Violin Concerto (performed by Beth Newdome (violin), the Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra under John Morrison on 17 November 1996 at the Georgia State Recital Hall in Atlanta[20])
  • Four psalms, for soprano and piano (performed by the Capitol City Opera Company of Atlanta at the Cathedral of St. Philip on 10 May 1997[21])
  • Framboise et Amandine, children's opera (performed by the Capitol City Opera Company of Atlanta at the Roswell Municipal Auditorium in Roswell (GA) on 10 October 1997[22])
  • The Christmas Week, for children's voices and piano
  • Cantilene de Vieux Noel, for children's chorus (performed by the Rome Children's Choir under John Jennings in Rome (GA) on 13 December 1997[23])
  • Birth of Color, for choir on a text by David Brendan Hope (performed on 8 October 2000 at the Peachtree Road Methodist Church in Atlanta with the Schola Cantorum.[24])

The "Desenclos Incident"[edit]

On 18 May 1999 the Requiem by Tristan Foison was performed by the Capitol Hill Chorale of Washington, D.C. and was marked as the world premiere of the composition, which Tristan Foison claimed to have written. The Requiem was recognised immediately in the concert as plagiarism, because a person from the audience had sung the work a year earlier with his chorus and knew that it was composed by French composer Alfred Desenclos. After verification, Foison was confronted by the choral director. Shortly after this talk he vanished from the classical music scene.[25] All known biographical information comes from his curriculum vitae.


After the discovery of the Desenclos fraud, journalists checked his CV. They found that the following other claims were false:

  • He took part at the 1980 International Piano Competition Ferruccio Busoni.[26]
  • He took part at the 37th Prague Spring International Music Competition in 1985.[27]
  • He won the Prix de Rome.
  • He studied with conductor Robert Shaw.[25]
  • He wrote the violin concerto actually written by French composer Raymond Gallois-Montbrun, in 1949.[28]


  1. ^ "20th century violin concertante – Tristan Foison". Archived from the original on 19 August 2013.
  2. ^ "The Atlanta Journal Constitution" from 29. July 2001: A classical puzzle – Accused of stealing another composer's work, Tristan Foison takes another enigmatic turn" by Pierre Ruhe
  3. ^ article "Tristan Foison to give recital" in the Rome News Tribune from 17. September 1995
  4. ^ article "Symphony works on challenges" by Amy Knowles in the Rome News Tribune from 12. Oktober 1997
  5. ^ article "Dr. Tristan S. Foison" in the Rome News Tribune from 08. July 1998
  6. ^ Times-Picayune from 27.11.1990
  7. ^ Atlanta Journal Constitution from 10.05.1988
  8. ^ Times-Picayune from 19.11.1989
  9. ^ Atlanta Journal Constitution from 15.05.1993
  10. ^ Atlanta Journal Constitution from 31.10.1992
  11. ^ Atlanta Journal Constitution from 19.09.1993
  12. ^ Times-Picayune from 5.5.1992
  13. ^ Times-Picayune from 15.04.1993
  14. ^ Atlanta Journal Constitution from 8.11.1992
  15. ^ Atlanta Journal Constitution from 30.09.1994
  16. ^ Atlanta Journal Constitution from 22.01.1994
  17. ^ Atlanta Journal Constitution from 27.04.2000
  18. ^ Atlanta Journal Constitution from 28.10.1995
  19. ^ Washington Post from 7.06.2001
  20. ^ Atlanta Journal Constitution from 24.11.1996
  21. ^ Atlanta Journal Constitution from 10.05.1997
  22. ^ Atlanta Journal Constitution from 4.10.1997
  23. ^ program of the Rome Symphony Orchestra season's program 1997/98
  24. ^ Atlanta Journal Constitution from 10.09.2000
  25. ^ a b Philip Kennicott (7 June 2001). "A Composer's Too-Familiar Refrain". Washington Post.
  26. ^ "Hall of Fame". concorsobusoni_2014.
  27. ^ private message from the Prague Spring Competition to Tobias Broeker ( on 14 April 2016
  28. ^ "20th century violin concertante – Tristan Foison".