EDWIN FRANKO GOLDMAN
And the Goldman Band
By Jack Kopstein
For more than 90 years the Goldman band has been recognized as a vital part of America’s concert life. It has served not only to thrill and entertain the public, but also to cultivate in a purely professional manner the traditions and repertoire nurtured by two centuries of American bands. Eminent composer-conductor Edwin Franko Goldman founded the band in 1911 and the present band still retains the Goldman name under the current designation the GOLDMAN MEMORIAL BAND.
In speaking of his father, Richard Franko Goldman related in a broadcast interview that “the new image of the modern concert band is largely the work of one man Edwin Frank Goldman”. He went on to say “early in 1909 my father began to recognize that the musicians in New York who performed in the summer bands, most of whom were from the symphonies and the Metropolitan Opera, did not take the summer performances very seriously. The bands seldom rehearsed and considered the work only as a source of extra income. My father realized the enormous potential for a good wind ensemble. Subsequently in 1911 he founded a group which was initially called the New York Military Band. Later in 1920 when he was firmly established the ensemble became known as the Goldman Band”.
The Goldman Band became one of the greatest in history and Goldman’s name became synonymous with musical excellence throughout the United States. He was the dean of bandmasters and certainly one of the most celebrated that ever lived. His famous series of live free concerts in New York’s Central Park and Prospect Park in Brooklyn were heard by more people than any other series of concerts in the world. He projected the spirit of old bandstands, the feature of every old-fashioned park and village square. He helped foster through his concerts a wholesome and happy nostalgia to the people of a great metropolis.
Goldman was the scion of a great American musical family and was born in Louisville Kentucky on January 1st 1878. . He began early studies on cornet with the eminent cornet soloist Jules Levy. He received a scholarship to the National Conservatory of music that was under the directorship of Anton Dvorak. At age 22 he had established himself as a virtuoso cornetist and performed with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 9 years. In addition he was a writer for the Carl Fischer Music Company and had a very lucrative teaching practice with 90 students per week. During his tenure with the Met he had the opportunity to play under some great conductors including Walter Damrosch, Gustave Mahler and Arturo Toscanini.
In 1919 the famous series of regular Goldman concerts got under way on the Green of Columbia University as the New York Military Band with funds raised by subscription. The nucleus of the musicians of the band came from the major orchestras of New York City and the professional cadre of freelance players. In 1924 two families of Guggenheims took over support of the concerts and their aid continues to the present under the auspices of the Guggenheim foundation. Although the concerts have been given since 1923 in Central Park and other city parks, they are not municipal concerts.
For its first season as the Goldman Band in 1920, he began to present a vast array of soloists. Famous instrumental and vocal performers from the Metropolitan Opera appeared with the band on a regular basis. As well, Goldman had numerous guest conductors including composer Percy Grainger and Arthur Clappe.
The list of new works for band and specially created band transcriptions were presented annually by the Goldman band. As an example of his brilliant musicality Dr Goldman transcribed the Mussorgsky-Ravel “Pictures at an Exhibition” which the eminent conductor Leonard Bernstein called masterful. The band also premiered new serious works for concert band. Beginning in 1920 the American composer Carl Busch of Kansas City provided a commissioned work called a “Symphonic Episode”, A Chant from the Great Plains. Percy Grainger spoke in glowing terms of Goldman’s introduction of new works when he said, “you are spreading the word of the great and beautiful possibilities of a finely organized modern military band”. Goldman conceived of the idea of presenting both traditional and classical compositions in his programs with the introduction of works by distinguished composers comparable to Stravinsky and Ralph Vaughn Williams. He also featured American composers such as Henry Hadley and Bainbridge Crist. He later was able to encourage well known European composers to write material especially for the band and this group included Ottorio Respghi, Jarmomir Weinberger and Albert Roussel.
With a roster of the finest wind and percussion players, an ever increasing repertoire of original and transcribed music and a solid financial base with the Guggenheim endowment, the Goldman Band toured the USA and Canada appeared at exhibitions and shows and made numerous recordings, and as well performed for millions on radio and television.
The opening concert in the summer of 1923 summer season, in Central Park was attended by a crowd estimated at over 30,000 a remarkable testament to the popularity of the Goldman Band. In 1924 concerts were broadcast twice a week on a local radio station in New York City. Ultimately by 1928 broadcasts reached one hundred and fifty million listeners through the Mutual network of the National Broadcasting Corporation. Goldman believed that broadcasting to be a great entertainment medium. Eventually the band’s mastery over the airwaves exceeded the success of the Central Park concerts. The radio transcriptions that were sent to various radio stations in the USA and to the CBC in Canada were sensational and even today one can hear the incredible ability of the Goldman band musicians.
By 1942 for the first time it was possible to present a complete and balanced program of concert works originally composed for band and July 21st the Goldman Band gave what is considered the first concert in this exclusive realm of music for the wind ensemble
The program included Christmas March- E F Goldman, Spring Overture-Leo Sowerby, Canto Yoruba-Pedro Sanjun, Rhapsody Jericho-Morton Gould, A legend, Paul Creston, Newsreel-William Schuman, First Suite for Band-Gutave Holst, Festival Occasion-Henry Cowell, Curtain Raiser and Country Dance-E F Golden, Lost Lady Found-Percy Grainger, English Folk Song Suite-Percy Grainger.
The instrumentation for the band under Dr Goldman varied over the years but the complement for 1930-56 was distributed as follows: 4 Flutes (piccolo), 2 oboes (English horn), 1 Eb clarinet, 19 clarinets (8 firsts,6 2nds,5 thirds), 1 Bass clarinet, 2 alto saxophones,1 tenor saxophone,1 baritone saxophone, 2 bassoons, 4 cornets, 4 trumpets, 5 French horns, 6 trombones, 2 euphoniums, 4 tubas, 2 string basses, 1 harp, 3 percussion.
Edwin Franko Goldman was the first president of the American Bandmasters Association and is seen sixth from the left standing next to John Philip Sousa at the ABA meeting 1930. On Sousa’s right is Canadian military Director of Music Captain Charles O’Neill.
Goldman himself was a prolific composer and wrote a total of 150 works many in collaboration with Eric Leidzen and Mayhew Lake. His efforts to raise the concert and military band to new heights certainly impacted on Succeeding generations of music in America and had a universal effect on bands everywhere. His inspiration and legacy was felt in every aspect of the wind band field of endeavor. In 1945 he conducted various concerts for American service personnel in the Philippines Islands and Japan and wrote an official report on American service bands. His advice went a long way to change the profile of American military bands.
Goldman was known by more New Yorkers than any other living person of the time. His flowing white wavy hair, his ready smile and brisk cheerful appearance made him loved by one and all. He received more awards than seemed possible. He was a founder of the American Bandmasters Association and the recipient of over two dozen honorary degrees. He was a productive author and writer contributing an enormous wealth of material to schools and universities throughout America. In 1932 he received John Philip Sousa’s favorite baton which was presented by his widow.
Goldman passed away in 1956 at age 78 and his death marked the end of an era, John Philip Sousa had glorified the band, Goldman raised its station, giving it new stature in the world of symphonic music. He contributed a great deal to the public’s understanding and love of band music.
Goldman wrote several marches and solo works. His marches include On the Mall, Cheerio, The Chimes of Liberty, Jubilee, ,Kentucky and On the Hudson. The eminent American cornetist James Burke was often featured with the band and played several of Goldman’s compositions such as Jupiter and Espanita. On the Mall remains a featured march and continues to be performed and recorded by bands throughout America and around the world.
It is estimated Edwin Franko Goldman was involved in over 8,000 concerts during his long distinguished career. During the period from 1927-1947 the band played every night in the summer months. His unprecedented contribution dramatically influenced the history of concert and military bands in America and the International community.
His son Richard Franko Goldman who carried on the great tradition of the band by introducing new and even more challenging music into the concert programs succeeded him. He helped to introduce several annual concert program works including the music of John Philip Sousa in which the entire second half of a program was dedicated to Sousa. Another distinctive element of the was the introduction of band music with an International flavor.
In 1976 Sir Vivian Dunn ex of the Royal Marines, made his debut as guest conductor of the Goldman band in Central Park in a program of English music which consisted of the American premier of his scintillating Mountbatten march, Overture Yeoman of the Guard by Sir Arthur Sullivan, Four Scottish Dances by Malcolm Arnold, A Welsh Rhapsody by Edward German, Westminster Waltz by Robert Farnon, Cockleshell Heroes by Dunn and the majestic William Walton Coronation march Crown Imperial. The concert was received with enormous audience approval.
The Goldman Band continued to perform concerts for the people of New York. In the 1980′s after the passing of Richard Franko Goldman, Ainslee Cox became the conductor and on his death in 1988, Gene Young who remained until 1997 when the present director David Eaton took over the podium replaced him. Free band concerts are played in New York’s Damrosch Park and the band is often employed in commemoration performances such as the 1999 Centennial concert. As well young musicians who are chosen by the school directors in the New York State music teachers association join the Goldman Memorial band each year in concert.The band was discontinued in 2005.
Bibliography: March Music Notes-Norman Smith
The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music-William H Rehrig, editor Publisher Paul E Bierley, Integrity Press, Westerville, Ohio
Bands of America-HL Schwartz
The Groves Encyclopedia of Music and Musicians
The Legacy of Edwin Franko Goldman-US Army Field Band
The recording of an interview of Richard Franko Goldman by Tony Thomas and the recordings of several Goldman band radio broadcasts.
I am also indebted to Frank McGuire of Victoria BC for his unrelenting assistance in the preparation of this article.