Goldschmidt, Otto (DNB12)

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GOLDSCHMIDT, OTTO (1829–1907), pianist and composer, was born of Jewish parents on 21 Aug. 1829 in the 'free city' of Hamburg, where Mendelssohn was born in 1809. His grandfather and father were Hamburg merchants, with an English connection, their firm having branches in Glasgow and Manchester. In early youth Otto was given pianoforte lessons by Jakob Schmitt (younger brother of Aloys), and harmony lessons by Fried. W. Grud. Mendelssohn opened the Leipzig Conservatorium on 3 April 1843, and Goldschmidt entered it in the following autumn. He studied there assiduously for three years, attending Mendelssohn's select class for pianoforte phrasing, and learning pianoforte technique from Plaidy and counterpoint from Hauptmann. He came to know Joachim, while W. S. Rockstro [q. v.] was a fellow-student. Jenny Lind [q. v.] appeared at the Gewandhaus at Leipzig on 4 Dec. 1845. From 1846 to 1848 Goldschmidt taught and played in Hamburg. In 1848 he was sent to Paris to study under Chopin, but the revolution drove him to England before he could fulfil his purpose. On 31 July 1848 he played in London at a concert given for charity by Jenny Lind (who was by this time abandoning the stage) in the concert-room of Her Majesty's Theatre; he also appeared in London on 27 March 1849 at Ella's Musical Union. In January 1850 he met Jenny Lind at Lübeck. In the same year she began a long American tour under Phineas T. Barnum. In May 1851, when her musical director, pianist, and accompanist, Benedict, was leaving for England, she sent for Goldschmidt to take his place. They were married at Boston according to the rites of the Episcopal Church on 5 Jan. 1852. Her age was then thirty-two, his twenty-three. From 1852 to 1855 they lived in Dresden, making frequent concert tours. In 1856 they came to England, and shortly settled there. In 1859 Goldschmidt became naturalsed in this country. In 1862 he began to edit with Sir William Stemdale Bennett [q. v.] the 'Chorale Book for England,' in which German stock-tunes were set to hymn translations already made by Catherine Winkworth in her 'Lyra Germanica.' In 1863 and 1866 Goldschmidt conducted the choral portions of the festival when Jenny Lind appeared at Düsseldorf at the Whitsuntide Niederrheinisches Musikfest, where she had already sung in 1846 and 1855. In 1863 he joined the Royal Academy of Music as pianoforte professor, under Charles Lucas as principal. In 1866 Sterndale Bennett became principal, and Goldschmidt was from 1866 to 1868 vice-principal. From 1864 to 1869 he advised Dr. Temple about music at Rugby. In 1867 Jenny Lind sang at Hereford musical festival, and Goldschmidt produced there his 'Ruth, a Biblical Idyll'; this was heard again in 1869 at Exeter Hall, and in Düsseldorf on 20 Jan. 1870, when Jenny Lind made her last public appearance except for charity. In 1876 A. D. Coleridge, an enthusiastic amateur, got together an amateur choir for the first performance in England of Bach's B minor Mass (26 April 1876, St. James's Hall). The 'Bach Choir' thereupon came into being and Goldschmidt was appointed conductor. He held that office till 1885. His wife helped in the chorus. He edited many masterpieces for the collection called the 'Bach Choir Magazine.' In 1876 he was elected a member of the Athenæum Club under Rule 11. His wife died on 2 Nov. 1887. In February 1891 he published a valuable collection of her cadenzas and fioriture. He died on 24 Feb. 1907 at his house, 1 Moreton Gardens, South Kensington, and was buried by his wife's side at Wynds Point on the Malvern Hills. He left two sons and a daughter.

Although Goldschmidt's opportunities came through his wife's celebrity, he used them wisely, and his German thoroughness, his sincerity of disposition, and his courtly manner made him a welcome factor in numberless musical activities. He was a knight of the Swedish order of the Vasa (1876), and was given the Swedish gold medal 'litteris et artibus,' with the commander ribbon of the polar star (1893). He was a chief officer or honorary member of the majority of London musical institutions. He owned the original autograph of Beethoven's 1802 letter to his brothers, called 'Beethoven's Will,' and presented this in 1888 to the Hamburg Stadt-bibliothek. As a performer he was a surviving link with the Mendelssohn period, and his direct testimony to Mendelssohn's style as a pianist (clear and expressive, but almost pedalless) was important. He said that Mendelssohn stood always throughout his two-hour class. As a composer, Goldschmidt belonged to Mendelssohn's era; besides 'Ruth,' his published works were, 'Music, an Ode' (Leeds, 1898), a pianoforte concerto, a pianoforte trio, and various studies and pieces for the pianoforte. His publications are numbered down to op. 27.

[The Times, 26 Feb., 1 March, 13 May 1907 (will); Holland and Rockstro's Life of Jenny Lind; Musical Herald, May 1896; private information.]

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