Tristan Foison

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Tristan Foison (* 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]


  • Suite Liturgique, for chorus (won the Prix Maurice Ravel in Paris)
  • La Foret, opera
  • Requiem, for chorus
  • Violin Concerto
  • The Christmas Week, for children's voices and piano
  • Cantilene de Vieux Noel, for children's chorus

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.[6] 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.[7]
  • He took part at the 37th Prague Spring International Music Competition in 1985.[8]
  • He won the Prix de Rome.
  • He studied with conductor Robert Shaw.[6]
  • He wrote the violin concerto actually written by French composer Raymond Gallois-Montbrun, in 1949.[9]


  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. ^ a b Philip Kennicott (7 June 2001). "A Composer's Too-Familiar Refrain". Washington Post. 
  7. ^ "Hall of Fame". concorsobusoni_2014. 
  8. ^ private message from the Prague Spring Competition to Tobias Broeker ( on 14 April 2016
  9. ^ "20th century violin concertante – Tristan Foison".