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Goossens, prominent family of English musicians of Belgian descent:

(1) Eugene Goossens (I), conductor; b. Bruges, Feb. 25, 1845; d. Liverpool, Dec. 30, 1906. He studied violin at the Bruges Cons, and violin and composition at the Brussels Cons. In 1873 he went to London, where he appeared as an operetta conductor. He was 2nd conductor (1883-89) and principal conductor (1889-93) of the Carl Rosa Opera Co., then settled in Liverpool, where he was founder-conductor of the Goossens Male Voice Choir (from 1894).

(2) Eugene Goossens (II), violinist and conductor, son of the preceding; b. Bordeaux, Jan. 28, 1867; d. London, July 31, 1958. He studied in Bruges and at the Brussels Cons. (1883-86), and then went to England, where he worked as a violinist, repetiteur, and asst. conductor under his father with the Carl Rosa Opera Co. He also continued his studies at London’s Royal Academy of Music (1891-92). After conducting various traveling opera companies, he served as principal conductor of the Carl Rosa Opera Co. (1899-1915), and later was a conductor with the British National Opera Co. He had the following 4 children, who became musicians.

(3) Sir (Aynsley) Eugene Goossens, distinguished conductor and composer; b. London, May 26, 1893; d. there, June 13, 1962. He first studied at the Bruges Cons. (1903-04), then at the Liverpool Coll. of Music. After winning a scholarship to the Royal Coll. of Music in London in 1907, he studied there with Rivarde (violin), Dykes (piano), and C. Wood and Stanford (composition). He was a violinist in the Queen’s Hall Orch. (1912-15), then was asst. conductor to Beecham (1915-20). In 1921 he founded his own London orch., and he also conducted opera and ballet at Covent Garden (1921-23). After serving as music director of the Rochester (N.Y.) Phil. (1923-31), he greatly distinguished himself as music director of the Cincinnati Sym. Orch. from 1931 to 1947. He then was chief conductor of the Sydney (Australia) Sym. Orch. and director of the New South Wales Conservatorium (1947-56). In 1955 he was knighted. He was a discriminating interpreter of the late 19th and early 20th century repertoire of the Romantic and Impressionist schools. As a composer, he wrote in all genres; his style became a blend of impressionistic harmonies and neo-Classical polyphony; while retaining a clear tonal outline, he often resorted to expressive chromatic melos bordering on atonality. He publ. Overture and Beginners: A Musical Autobiography (London, 1951).


DRAMATIC L’Ecole en Crinoline, ballet (1921-22); East of Suez, incidental music to Maugham’s play (London, Sept. 1922); Judith, opera after Arnold Benedict (1926-29; London, June 25, 1929, composer conducting); Don Juan de Manara, opera after Arnold Benedict (1930-35; London, June 24, 1937, composer conducting). ORCH.: Variations on a Chinese Theme (1911); Miniature Fantasy for Strings (1911); Perseus, symphonic poem (1914); Ossian, symphonic prelude (1915); 2 Sketches (1916; London, Jan. 3, 1917, composer conducting; also for String Quartet, London, March 10, 1916); Kaleidoscope (1917; 1920-26; suite, London, Aug. 15, 1933; also for Piano); Tarn O’Shanter: Scherzo (1917-18; London, April 29, 1919, composer conducting); 4 Conceits (Liverpool, Nov. 13, 1918, composer conducting; also for Piano, 1920); Prelude to “Philip II (1918; London, Aug. 27, 1919, composer conducting); The Hurdy- Gurdy Man (1918-20); Lyric Poem for Violin and Orch. (1919; N.Y, Sept. 11, 1929; also for Violin and Piano, 1920); The Eternal Rhythm (London, Oct. 19, 1920, composer conducting); Sinfonietta (1922-23; London, Feb. 19, 1923, composer conducting); Phantasy for Strings (1923; Cincinnati, Feb. 6, 1942, composer conducting; also for String Sextet, Pittsfield, Mass., Sept. 29, 1923); Concertino for Double String Orch. (1926; rev. version, N.Y., Dec. 18, 1929; also for String Octet, London, Feb. 19, 1929); Rhythmic Dance (Rochester, N.Y., March 12, 1927, composer conducting); Oboe Concerto (London, Oct. 2, 1930); Variations on “Cadet Roussel” (1930; Bournemouth, Nov. 4, 1931; also for Voice and Piano, 1918); 3 Pictures for Flute and Orch. (1935; Cincinnati, March 1936, composer conducting; also for Flute and Piano); Intermezzo from the opera Don Juan de Manara (London, Oct. 12, 1936); 2 Nature Poems (1937-38; Cincinnati, April 23, 1938, composer conducting); 2 syms.: No. 1 (Cincinnati, April 12, 1940, composer conducting) and No. 2 (BBC, London, Nov. 10, 1946); Phantasy Concerto for Piano and Orch. (1941-43; Cincinnati, Feb. 25, 1944, Jose Iturbi soloist, composer conducting); Phantasy Concerto for Violin and Orch. (1946-48; rev. 1958; London, Aug. 1959, composer conducting); Divertisse-ment (1956-60; Sydney, June 22, 1963). CHAMBER: 4 Sketches for Flute, Violin, and Piano or 2 Violins and Piano or Harp (London, Nov. 1913); Suite for Flute, Violin, and Harp or 2 Violins and Harp or Piano (1914); 5 Impressions of a Holiday for Flute or Violin, Cello, and Piano (1914; London, Feb. 1915); Phantasy String Quartet (London, June 28, 1915); String Quartet (London, Dec. 10, 1915); 2 Sketches for String Quartet (London, March 10, 1916; also for String Orch., London, Jan. 3, 1917, composer conducting); Rhapsody for Cello and Piano (1916; London, Jan. 6, 1917); 2 violin sonatas: No. 1 (London, June 18, 1918) and No. 2 (1930; Bradford, Jan. 20, 1931); Piano Quintet (1919); Lyric Poem for Violin and Piano (1920; also for Violin and Orch., 1919; N.Y., Sept. 11, 1929); Phantasy Sextet for 3 Violins, Viola, and 2 Cellos (Pittsfield, Mass., Sept. 29, 1923; also for String Orch., Cincinnati, Feb. 6, 1942, composer conducting); Concertino for String Octet (1926; rev. version, London, Feb. 19, 1929); 3 Pictures for Flute and Piano (1935; also for Flute and Orch., Cincinnati, March 1936, composer conducting). Piano : Concert Study (1914); Kaleidoscope, suite (1917; also as a suite for Orch., London, Aug. 15, 1933); Nature Poems (1919); 4 Conceits (1920; also for Orch., Liverpool, Nov. 13, 1918, composer conducting); Hommage a Debussy (1920); 2 Studies (1923); Capriccio (1960). VOCAL: 2 Songs for Voice and Piano (1914); Deux Proses Lyriques for Voice and Piano (London, April 14, 1916); 4 Songs for Voice and Piano (1917); Variations on “Cadet Roussel” for Voice and Piano (1918); Persian Idylls for Voice and Piano (London, June 18, 1918); 2 Scotch Folk Songs for Voice and Piano (1918); 3 Songs for Voice and Piano or String Quartet (1920-21); 4 Songs for Voice and Piano (1931); Apocalypse, oratorio (1951; Sydney, Nov. 22, 1954, composer conducting). OTHER: Fanfare for a Ceremony for 4 Trumpets (London, Oct. 27, 1921); Fanfare for Artists for 4 Trumpets, 4 Trombones, Timpani, and Percussion (London, May 8, 1930).

(4) Marie (Henriette) Goossens, harpist; b. London, Aug. 11, 1894; d. Dorking, Surrey, Dec. 18, 1991. She studied at the Royal Coll. of Music in London. She made her debut in Liverpool in 1910, then was principal harpist at Covent Garden, the Diaghilev Ballet, the Queen’s Hall Orch. (1920-30), the London Phil. (1932-39), the London Sym. Orch. (1940-59), and the London Mozart Players (from 1972). She was also prof. of harp at the Royal Coll. of Music (1954-67). In 1984 she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Her autobiography was publ. as Life on a Harp String (1987).

(5) Leon Goossens, eminent oboist; b. Liverpool, June 12, 1897; d. Tunbridge Wells, Feb. 13, 1988. He studied at the Royal Coll. of Music in London (1911-14). He played in the Queen’s Hall Orch. (1914-24), and later in the orchs. of Covent Garden and the Royal Phil. Soc. He subsequently was principal oboe of the London Phil. (1932-39), and also prof. of oboe at the Royal Academy of Music (1924-35) and the Royal Coll. of Music (1924-39). In succeeding years, he appeared as a soloist with major orchs. and as a chamber music artist. In 1962 he suffered injuries to his lips and teeth as a result of an automobile accident, but after extensive therapy he was able to resume his virtuoso career. He commissioned works from several English composers, among them Elgar and Vaughan Williams. In 1950 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

(6) Sidonie Goossens, harpist; b. Liscard, Cheshire, Oct. 19, 1899. She studied at the Royal Coll. of Music in London. She made her orch. debut in 1921, and later was principal harpist of the BBC Sym. Orch. in London (1930-80). She served as prof. of harp at the Guildhall School of Music there (from 1960). She was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1974 and an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1981.


C. Rosen, The G. (London, 1993).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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