The death is reported of Harris Goldsmith, piano teacher at Mannes College and, after Harold Schonberg, Manhattan’s polymath of the instrument. He was 77. Starting with Guido Cantelli in the 1950s, he was an indefatigable searcher of talent for Musical America and other outlets. Here’s a recent Harris report:
Yuja Wang, piano
At age 17, Yuja Wang played an astonishingly mature and technically finished interpretation of Schubert’s late CMinor Sonata, D. 958, in Weill Hall on April 12, 2004. And—from the sublime to the ridiculous—at a Rockefeller University recital on February 2, 2007, she tossed off an unexpected encore, Arcadi Volodos’s indulgent paraphrase of Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca. Volodos had given her the music
only a week earlier. “It’s not so hard,” she shrugged. Most important is Wang’s self-proclaimed ideal: “For me, conveying the music through the piano is more important than the instrument itself. The music is what interests and intrigues me.” After substituting for several of the most celebrated pianists Argerich, Perahia, and Lupu, to name a few), Wang at 23 has amassed a repertoire of by now over 35 concertos and has two spectacularly successful recordings for Deutsche Grammophon to her credit. What particularly endears me to her playing is the inviting warmth and touching vulnerability in tandem with her fiery brilliance. •
Harris was no mean artist himself and a well-known face about town.
Allan Kozinn adds: I knew Harris pretty well in the 1980’s when we both wrote for High Fidelity and Opus, and I commissioned him to write a piece for a booklet the New York Philharmonic published in connection with a Beethoven festival – one of my few editing projects. More recently, I used to run into him periodically at concerts – mostly piano recitals at Carnegie. Harris knew everything there was to know about the piano repertory, and particularly Beethoven, and he was a sweet man with an interesting, sometimes peculiar, and usually groanably pun-encrusted sense of humor.