Frederick Fox

Fred was born January 17, 1931 in Detroit, Michigan. In his junior high school, there was a good band program and he learned to play saxophone. By the age of 17, he was taking private lessons from Larry Teal, and playing in pick-up dance hall jazz bands around Detroit.  Soon he began traveling the Midwest with touring bands, writing interludes and intros and arranging.  His first love was jazz, but after studying composition at Wayne State and later at Indiana University (under Bernard Heiden), his musical interests largely shifted to contemporary music in the Western classical tradition, with a heavy jazz inflection.   By 1959 he had earned his doctorate in music from I.U.  In 1974, after two academic jobs in small colleges, a Ford Foundation post in DC, and ten years at Cal State Hayward (now California State University, East Bay), he was invited back to teach at I.U., where he spent the rest of his career.  One of his first major undertakings was the founding of the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, serving as its first director. Throughout his career, Fred always considered himself a "composer who teaches," rather than a "teacher who composes." He also dutifully served as chairman of the composition department for thirteen years.  His office at the Music School was notable for its collection of what he called "true American tacky": a boxing nun toy, a velvet portrait of Elvis, an obscene light switch, etc.  He retired in 1997.  His spirit, his personality, and the very specific tension of his being are very much alive in his music, for those who care to listen.  Frederick Alfred Fox, Jr., a composer and former professor of music at the Indiana University Jacob School of Music, died peacefully at home in his sleep on August 24th, 2011.  For many years he had been in declining health, which he endured with humor and without complaint.  He was 80.