Lawrence Foster was born in 1954, and tragically lost his life at the hands of a murderous car thief in Atlanta, Georgia in 1980. He was described by Leonard Bernstein as an "authentic genius," and it was the considered opinion of many that he would have been a star on the level of Yo-Yo Ma or Lynn Harrell, his fellow students with Leonard Rose at Julliard.
Foster was born in Oak Park, Illinois, a pleasant suburb of Chicago. Even as a toddler he was fascinated by the cello, and began lessons at the age of seven with Karl Fruh at Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago. He gave his first public concert at the age of eight, and when he was only eleven he was chosen to be a soloist with the NBC Symphony on television's "Artists Showcase." He also soloed that year with Chicago's Grant Park Symphony.
It was also in 1965 that he was granted a five year scholarship to study at Julliard. In 1966 he debuted with both the Philadelphia and Chicago Symphonies to rave reviews in the press. He won several awards and appeared on television again, this time with Leonard Bernstein in one of his "Young People's Concerts," with the New York Philharmonic.
During his years at Julliard, studying with Leonard Rose, he also found time to travel to London to study with William Pleeth, Jacqueline du Pre's teacher. When he became sixteen, he enrolled in a London University to study English. He said, "I really want a university degree...since I like to read, literature seemed the best study. It makes you more creative and teaches another way to express yourself."
He continued studying with Pleeth and concertizing in England and America. Pleeth considered Foster to be an outstanding talent, and wrote, "This is without doubt only the beginning of a great career." In 1974, at the age of 19, he was chosen winner at the "Leeds International Musician's Platform." Gerald Moore wrote of his appearance there: "Listening to him...we were all struck by the spirit...the fire, the poetry and the love." Benjamin Britten invited him to play at the Aldeburgh Festival, and he made more appearances on BBC television.