Goldsmith, Martin 1952-

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GOLDSMITH, Martin 1952-


Born 1952, in St. Louis, MO; son of Gunther (a flutist) and Rosemarie (a violist; maiden name, Gumpert) Goldschmidt. Education: Received degree from Johns Hopkins University. Hobbies and other interests: Playing the French horn, softball.


Home—Kensington, MD. Office—XM Radio, 1500 Eckington Place NE, Washington, DC 20002.


Radio host, musical producer and director, writer. WCVL classical radio station, Cleveland, OH, producer and announcer, 1971-1975; WETA-FM, Washington, DC, music and program director, 1975-87; National Public Radio (NPR), Performance Today, music producer, 1987-89, host, 1989-99, senior commentator, 1999; XM Satellite Radio, Washington, DC, director of classical music programming.


George Foster Peabody Award, 1998, for Performance Today; Cultural Leadership Citation, Yale University.


The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany, Wiley (New York, NY), 2000.

The Beatles Come to America, John Wiley (Hoboken, NJ), 2004.

Goldsmith's music reviews have appeared in the Washington Post.


Martin Goldsmith has added nonfiction writing to a distinguished career as a classical music producer and host. Goldsmith is perhaps known best for his decade-long stint on National Public Radio's (NPR's) Performance Today, a daily two-hour show featuring musical performances from orchestras and musicians worldwide, accompanied by Goldsmith's interviews with such greats as violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Van Cliburn, and conductor Georg Solti. During Goldsmith's ten years as host, the program grew to an audience of over 230 million and was carried on forty member stations. His tenure as host came to an end in 1999 when he opted to change positions to senior commentator, a job that would allow him more time to complete his first nonfiction book, The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany.

Goldsmith's debut title, which appeared in 2000, is partly a biography of his musician parents and partly a look at the Nazi musical institution of the Judische Kulturbund (Jewish Culture Association), or Kubu for short. Formed in 1933 for propaganda reasons, the Kubu employed some of the 8,000 Jewish artists who lost their positions when Hitler came to power. To show the international community their "kind" face, the Nazis formed the Kubu, which allowed these artists to perform for Jewish audiences. It was in a Kubu orchestra that Goldsmith's parents, Gunther Goldschmidt and Rosemarie Gumpert, met and fell in love in 1936. Married in 1938, the couple managed to get out of Germany before the war. Most members of their respective families, however, were not so lucky and ended up perishing during the ensuing Holocaust.

Edward Dorall, writing in the New Straits Times, noted that the book details two stories: that of the Kubu and of Gunther and Rosemarie and their love. "The real inextinguishable symphony is … the struggle of the Kubu musicians to survive the first Nazi decade," Dorall wrote. "Many emigrated, the orchestras were continually losing members, but many too stayed on to sing and play, one even collapsing and dying on-stage after being tortured by the Gestapo." For Dorall, "the moving love story of Rosemarie and Gunther is framed by the hideous epic tragedy of their race.… This tale of love and hate, survival and death, is compellingly narrated.… a glowing tribute by an admiring son to the courage and devotion of his parents to their race, their art, and each other." Similar praise came from the Washington Post Book World's Jonathan Mahler, who called the book a "sensitive" and "humanizing" story of "two young people who did the best they could to simulate a normal life within unthinkable circumstances." Mahler went on to commend Goldsmith's "spare and simple" prose, further noting that his book was a "literary journey reminiscent of Art Spiegelman's Maus. "

Kevin East, writing in Sensible Sound, commented that the title of Goldsmith's book comes from the popular name of the Fourth Symphony by composer Carl Nielsen, and "provides the book's overarching metaphor." East went on to observe that "Goldsmith writes tenderly of his parents' harrowing tale, but reserves his best prose for the music." Jonathan Rabb of Opera News similarly noted that "what makes this book so rich, and ultimately so gripping, is that the love affair of the title clearly is not just between his parents but with music itself." A contributor for Publishers Weekly found Goldsmith's book "as much a tribute to the power of music as it is a Holocaust memoir." And Alan Hirsch, reviewing the work in Booklist, concluded that Goldsmith's "weaving together of cultural and personal history constitutes a gripping tale of persecution, intrigue, and love and an insider's … view of a dark time."

Goldsmith mines another historical epoch for his second title, though this one is closer to hand and the music more contemporary. In The Beatles Come to America, Goldsmith looks at the "English invasion" of 1964, when the Beatles first came to the United States for their introduction to American audiences. This two-week tour included their memorable debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The Beatles, with their new music, witty repartee in interviews, and signature long hair set a new style for America, signaling the arrival of the youth culture that fueled the subsequent Sixties rebellion. That their visit came at a pivotal time in U.S. history—just three months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and at the same time that U.S. troops were becoming involved in the Vietnam conflict—allows Goldsmith to create a cultural history out of the Beatles' two-week visit. Goldsmith's contention that the Beatles set the tone not only in music but also in politics for the youth generation brought some criticism. Jonathan Yardley, reviewing the title in the Washington Post Book World, complained that "Goldsmith is a '60s recidivist who's stuck in the decade's sentimental fantasies," but at the same time commended the work as a "pleasant exercise in nostalgia." A similar assessment came from John Harris, writing in the New Statesman. Harris commented, "With the piety and self-importance that often colour younger generations' view of the baby boomers, Goldsmith attempts to credit John, Paul, George and Ringo with creating one of the major political fissures of postwar U.S. history."

A less politically oriented review of The Beatles Come to America was presented by Entertainment Weekly's Chris Willman, who called the book a "breezily intelligent band biography" that is "part memoir and part musicology lesson." Though a reviewer for Publishers Weekly felt Goldsmith serves up too much general Beatles history in his book, the same contributor noted that the title "does offer many fascinating details related to their arrival [in New York]." And Booklist 's Gordon Flagg called the book a "concise, useful account of the Beatles' career and impact."



Billboard, October 2, 1999, "Goldsmith Exits Performance Today," p. 105.

Booklist, September 15, 2000, Alan Hirsch, review of The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany, p. 214; January 1, 2004, Gordon Flagg, review of The Beatles Come to America, p. 805.

Entertainment Weekly, February 6, 2004, Chris Willman, review of The Beatles Come to America, p. 153.

Kliatt, July, 2002, Susan Offner, review of The Inextinguishable Symphony, p. 58.

Library Journal, October 1, 2000, Frederic Krome, review of The Inextinguishable Symphony, p. 120.

New Statesman, April 12, 2004, John Harris, review of The Beatles Come to America, p. 51.

New Straits Times, February 1, 2001, Edward Dorall, review of The Inextinguishable Symphony.

Opera News, January, 2001, Jonathan Rabb, review of The Inextinguishable Symphony, p. 93.

Publishers Weekly, August 14, 2000, review of The Inextinguishable Symphony, p. 338; January 19, 2004, review of The Beatles Come to America, p. 67.

Sensible Sound, June, 2001, Kevin East, review of The Inextinguishable Symphony, p. 59.

Washington Post Book World, September 24, 2000, Jonathan Mahler, review of The Inextinguishable Symphony, p. 5; February 5, 2004, Jonathan Yardley, review of The Beatles Come to America, p. 8.


John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Web site, (September 27, 2004), "Biographical Information for Martin Goldsmith."

National Public Radio Web site, (September 20, 1999), "NPR's Martin Goldsmith to Step Down As Performance Today Host, Takes on New Role As Senior Commentator"; (September 27, 2004), "Martin Goldsmith, Senior Commentator, Performance Today."

Whitworth College Web site, (February 6, 2001), "NPR's Martin Goldsmith to Speak at Whitworth."

Wiley Publishers Web site, (September 27, 2004).

XM Radio Web site, (September 27, 2004), "Martin Goldsmith."*

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