Isador Goodman AM 1909-1982
Moses Isidore (the original spelling) Goodman was born into a musical family at Cape Town, South Africa, on 27 May 1909.
When he was 12 his father died and his mother took him to London, where he studied at the Royal College of Music.
The poet of the piano
‘Isador Goodman was Australia’s poet of the piano,’ wrote music authority Michael Harrison.
‘His interpretations of Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov have earned him a permanent place in the Australian performers’ hall of fame. Tragically it was only in the final years of his life that his pianistic skills were fully appreciated by Australian music lovers. His recordings became almost as popular as the Little River Band and Olivia Newton-John. Isador Goodman became a household name, and his interpretation of Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto and Liszt’s Concerto in E flat revealed a sensitivity and subtlety rarely heard in these works. Goodman had the ability to appeal to different sections of the community. He was equally at home playing the lighter and the classical repertoire. He was a performer who spoke to the people of Australia. His interpretative skills and brilliant performances continue to live in memory, and thanks to his recordings, his art has been preserved for posterity.’
Moses Isidore (the original spelling) Goodman was born into a musical family at Cape Town, South Africa, on 27 May 1909. His father was a violinist and his mother an accomplished pianist; it was she who gave him his first music lessons. When he was six one of his compositions received a public performance; at seven he was a soloist with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra. When he was 12 his father died and his mother took him to London, where he studied at the Royal College of Music. He quickly built up a formidable concert repertoire and at the age of 14 played the Liszt E flat major Piano Concerto under Dr Malcolm Sargent.
Goodman won the prestigious Chappell and Challen Gold Medals and commenced studying conducting under Constant Lambert. He made his solo concert debut at the Grotrian Hall in Wigmore Street on 15 March 1926. Two years later he created a sensation as a last minute replacement for the pianist booked to play Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ at the London Coliseum. After that he toured Europe as solo pianist with Alexandre Levitoff’s Oumansky Russian Ballet.
In 1929 20-year-old Goodman accepted NSW State Conservatorium’s director W. Arundel Orchard’s offer of a teaching position. The severe economic downturn and the glut of deserving local musicians meant that Goodman was made to feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. Although his association with the Conservatorium lasted 50 years, it was often far from amicable.
Watch this space
Virginia Goodman: Isador Goodman – A Life in Music, Collins, 1983
Michael Harrison: ‘Isador Goodman’, notes for Belart CD 432207
Thomas Jude Sammut: ‘Isador Goodman’, in The Oxford Companion to Music, Oxford University Press, 1997