(Aynsley) Eugene GoossensEnglish Born 26 May 1893 Died 13 Jun 1962
The incredible success of Eugene Goossens' conducting career has tended to overshadow his parallel activities as a composer. Of his early Phantasy Quartet (1915), for example, Delius was said to have remarked that it was 'the best thing I have seen coming from an English pen’. He wrote many fine orchestral and chamber works, in addition to many inventive songs, yet he is still regarded primarily as a conductor.
Born into a musical family in London in 1893, the son of French-born conductor, Eugene Goossens and contralto, Annie Cook, Goossens began his musical training at the Bruges Conservatory. After returning to England, he gained a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, studying violin under Rivarde and composition under Stanford.
He made his conducting debut in April 1912, with a performance of his first orchestral composition, Variations on a Chinese Theme, and soon established himself as a conductor quickly able to learn complex scores. As a violinist he joined Henry Wood's Queen's Hall Orchestra and was a founder member of the Philharmonic String Quartet.
A promoter of contemporary music, he formed his own orchestra in 1921 and gave first performances of works by Stravinsky, Honegger, Poulenc and Milhaud, while also continuing to conduct the Carl Rosa Opera Company and Diaghilev's Ballet Russes. Although the venture resulted in bankruptcy, he quickly re-established his career when he received an invitation from George Eastman in 1923 to conduct the newly formed Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
A highly regarded conductor in America, Goossens returned periodically to England and, in 1947, accepted a post in Australia as chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and director of the New South Wales Conservatorium. For his work in Australia, which included the discovery of soprano Joan Sutherland, Goossens was knighted in 1955.
The following year, Sir Eugene Goossens returned to London where he embarked on a highly significant series of stereo recordings as a guest conductor. He died on 13 June 1962.
As a composer, Goossens' chamber works are particularly highly regarded, especially the Second String Quartet of 1940. Toscanini was a great fan of the Sinfonietta, and in his songs he demonstrated his immense knowledge and innate understanding of the piano with many inventive accompaniments. His greatest work, however, is probably the 1927 Oboe Concerto written for his brother Leon to perform.Show more