Nicholas Goldschmidt | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Nicholas Goldschmidt

Goldschmidt, Nicholas
Nicholas Goldschmidt's administrative talents have made him the country's leading festival organizer.

Nicholas Goldschmidt

Nicholas Goldschmidt, conductor, administrator (b at Tavikovice, Moravia, now Czech Republic, 6 Dec 1908, naturalized Canadian 1951, d at Toronto, 8 Feb 2004). After studies in piano, voice and composition at the Vienna Academy of Music, followed by conducting positions in Czechoslovakia and Belgium, Goldschmidt emigrated to the United States in 1937, where, by 1942, he was director of the opera department at Columbia University. Arnold Walter invited him to Toronto to join the expanding faculty at the Toronto Conservatory of Music (now the ROYAL CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC), and he became the first music director of its Opera School in 1946, a position he held until 1957. In addition he was a conductor for the CBC Opera Company (1949-57), and music director of the Opera Festival Association (later the CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY) and a conductor of 13 of its productions. He also directed (1950-58) the University of British Columbia's summer school.

In a life devoted to the production of the musical performing arts, Goldschmidt's singular musical judgement and administrative talents made him the country's leading festival organizer, beginning with the VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL, which he directed 1957-62, followed by 4 years as chief of the performing arts division of the Centennial Commission, where he was responsible for organizing the many national events of Festival Canada. As part of these national celebrations, he established and conducted the 200-strong mixed-voice Canadian Centennial Choir that sang in Ottawa during 1967. He then initiated the successful and enduring Guelph Spring Festival in 1968 and remained its director (and a conductor of some of its operatic productions) until 1987. He was first a consultant to, then in 1975 became artistic director of, Sault Ste Marie's Algoma Fall Festival, and was the founding conductor of the Algoma Festival Choir.

In addition to these ongoing projects, he was artistic consultant for the 1984 Toronto International Festival, then the initiator and director of the 1985 International Bach Piano Competition, and of the 1989, 1993 and 2002 choral festivals, The Joy of Singing. These 3 were located in Toronto, but had strong international components, and many of their events were broadcast nationally. Another of his projects, the 1991 Glory of Mozart Festivals, took place in Québec, Ontario and Newfoundland. In 1995, Goldschmidt organized and conducted Canada's celebration of the United Nations' 50th anniversary with a production of Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde presented in Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa and San Francisco.

He was artistic adviser for the 1997 and 1998 summer performance festivals of the NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE in Ottawa. As a celebration of the millennium that focused on Canadian creativity, Goldschmidt initiated, in 1996, Music Canada Musique 2000, an umbrella organization that encouraged music and dance performing groups and individuals across Canada to commission new works, ranging from full-scale operas to sonatas for individual instruments, from 62 composers. Funding for this millennium showcase of premieres, which took place across Canada from 21 December to 1 February 2001, was provided by the private sector, government agencies and the Canada Millennium Partnership Program.

The Healey Willan centennial committee, the National Library of Canada, the Edward Johnson Music Foundation, The Glenn Gould Foundation and the CANADA COUNCIL have, among others, benefited from Goldschmidt's sage advice and enthusiastic and knowledgeable participation. His contributions to the culture of Canada were recognized with honorary degrees, the Canadian Music Council Medal, the University of Alberta National Award, his appointment as, first an Officer, then a Companion of the Order of Canada, and in 1997 a Governor General's Performing Arts Award.