One centenary you’re likely to forget

January 2, 2015… that a week tomorrow… marks the centenary of the death of Carl Goldmark and practically nothing is being done abaout it. Goldmark was one of the most popular and powerful composers in Vienna in the times of Brahms and Mahler. His opera, The Queen of Sheba, was hugely popular in his time, performed almost every year at the Vienna Opera from 1875 to 1938.

His Rustic Wedding Symphony was a favourite of Bernstein’s. Today, his violin concerto is occasionally played – and that’s about it.

A plan to revive the Queen of Sheba in a synagogue in Berlin next February has been scrapped for lack of funds.

The small Austrian town of Deutschkreutz will mark the Jan 2 anniversary with a recital by Paul Gulda and a scattering of events through the year.




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  • Ahem! He DIED in 1915. Had he been born then, he might not have been so popular or powerful during the times of Brahms and Mahler.

    (Has the editor been at the Manischewitz?)

  • I seem to recall that back in the early 60s I had a Philips Classical Favourites LP of Beecham conducting the Rustic Wedding symphony with the RPO. This would presumably have been made by American Columbia and could therefore possibly have been the means by which Bernstein became acquainted with it. It’s difficult to think of two conductors with less in common than Tommy and Lennie.

  • Unfortunately, there are inexplicable fashions in music: the Franck symphony isn’t heard nearly as much these days as I think it should be. While he was still alive, I made repeated attempts to get Sir Charles Mackerras to take up the Goldmark symphony and record it with the Philharmonia, but to no avail. He just looked at me and shook his head, saying “It would be a box-office disaster”. So much for some orchestral managements who are castigated for their conservative programming: it’s often conductors and soloists who are unprepared to take the risks.

    • That doesn’t sound credible given how much Mackerras did to promote the music of Janacek, a composer I think many find much less easily accessible than Goldmark.

      • Presumably you are the all-knowing, all-seeing prat who thinks he knows better. One of the reasons I suggested the idea to one of his now deceased daughters and to Sir Charles himself as well as to the management of the Philharmonia Orchestra was because of Sir Charles’ love for and deep awareness of the music of Central Europe. But, of course, you, the great and infallible Michael Schaffer, thinks the whole story is made up. Why don’t you grow up?

        • Alexander Hall says:
          December 26, 2014 at 9:31 am

          “Presumably you are the all-knowing, all-seeing prat who thinks he knows better.”

          I didn’t necessarily think nor did I say that the story was made up, I just voiced some well-founded doubts. Which you could easily have dispelled, but your passive-aggressive overreaction to my socratic comment strongly suggests that I actually hit the nail on the head.

          BTW, you must realize that “grow up” is one of the lamest and most childish internet insults, along with “get help” or “get a life”.

          • You really are pathetic. I have crossed swords with you before and have noted your patronising attitude towards other contributors to this website. Before you ridicule other people and put yourself forward as the fount of all wisdom, perhaps you should examine your own innermost recesses and see whether there might not be a touch of humility, self-criticism and acceptance that others might just be correct in their judgements.

          • Sorry Alexander, I am always up for a good spirit discussion with grown ups who can respond with good arguments and who do not need to resort to your kind of childish name-calling – you must realize that your last sentence is just a verbose version of “get help”, one of those really lame and unoriginal internet insults I mentioned -, but please don’t flatter yourself – your contributions here do not rise to the level of “crossing swords”.

            I didn’t ridicule you, just voiced some doubts about your story – you ridiculed yourself by falling apart and resorting to name-calling. That does not make you appear very credible. You did that to yourself.

  • I am curious when the last live performance of the Goldmark Queen of Sheba, which has been recorded. Was 1938 the last year the Vienna Opera performed it on stage? Had it been performed at any prominent opera houses since the WWII?

    • There was a production in the Graz Opera House back in the 80’s, I conducted two performances of that production. Gorgeous score, a great tenor’s hit (Magische Töne), fantastic orchestration.
      I can’t really remember all singers, I know that Gabriele Lechner was Sulamith.
      I also conducted Goldmarks’ violin concerto several times during my tenue as chief conductor of Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra.

  • Absolutely unfair Goldmark’s music being forgotten. His violin concerto is IMO one of the most beautiful romantic one ever made, as good or better than Dvorak’s or Glazunov’s. And it’s an continuous pleasure to hear it by the extraordinary Milstein. His string quartet and quintet, as all his works for violin&piano are lovely, romantic and very well written works. Pity the lost sheet of his second violin concerto was never found. Love that man!

  • The reason why The Queen of Sheba would have been dropped from the Vienna Staatsoper programmes after 1938 was, of course, that that was the year of the Nazi Anschluss. Goldmark, as a Jewish composer, could not thereafter have been performed again before the end of the War in 1945. Why his works have never regained their earlier popularity remains up for debate. Maybe it’s simply a question of fashion?

  • Fortunately, the scores and parts for the two symphonies have been recently posted on and with any luck, smaller orchestras might take either of them up since rental fees are no longer an issue. For me, I just want a recording of The Cricket on the Hearth! I’m very grateful for Merlin and the Queen of Sheba, but Cricket needs to be done!

  • I, myself, felt very sorry for Silvestre Revueltas on December 31st 1999. Best wishes to Goldmark! There is SO much great music out there that the public is not aware of.

    • I didn’t know Revueltas was born on Dec 31 – but that makes total sense of course, given his first name!

  • Carl Goldmark, 1830-1915(Jan.2)
    He composed some great music. This year he is being celebrated (100 years since he died) His music is being revived & performed in Vienna, Deutschkreutz, Berlin, Freiburg -am-Breisgau, Budapest, Sopron, TelAviv, etc. Opera, Symphonic concertos and Overtures, Quintettes, Trios, Piano solo music, Lieder. Find his music: listen to it, play it, perform it. He was very famous in his time, but history and politics lead to some suppression of his music. Fortunately, these times have past. There is broad & international interest in rediscovering and performing his music. Carl Goldmark was extremely talented & motivated, inspired by literature, musical trends and his contemporaries. He went beyond any established styles, largely an autodidactic composer and had a burning passion for diversity in his compositions. His music is multi- facetted and the best of musicians will admit many pieces are challenging to play. Just this past weekend in Deutschkreutz, I listened to Paul Gulda’s moving piano performance and commentaries. A new biography is being released by Johann Hofer (in German) in 2015. His most famous opera, which was performed on almost all the major opera stages in the world, The Queen of Sheba/ Die Koenigen von Saba/ will be performed in Freiburg am Breisgau and in Budapest, maybe even in Berlin during 2015. I personally love the chamber & piano music. The songs are romantic but surprising. Again and again, in all the music Carl Goldmark, he surprises us with melodic, harmonic and rhythmic changes. Take some time & listen for yourself. Do not just read the old critics. It will be worth your while.
    *JFR/ Jan. 4, 2015 in Vienna*

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