Remembering Harris Goldsmith

Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 01:26 PM

We’ve learned that music critic and pianist Harris Goldsmith died earlier this month in a Manhattan hospital. He was 78.

 Goldsmith, who set aside a pianistic career to write for “High Fidelity” magazine in the heyday of the classical LP, became a familiar and influential critical voice for music lovers in the 50s and 60s, and could be spotted almost any night of the week in the press section of one or another of the New York concert halls, listening intently and then expounding to his colleagues on the music.  Later he did finally have a pianistic debut in Town Hall.

He was a charming and wonderfully eccentric gentleman who traveled to WNYC in blizzard conditions, years ago, to be interviewed for a profile, “The Critic,” on the occasion of the release of some of his piano performances on CD.  Sometime earlier, we recorded his thoughts on the pianist Sviatoslav Richter.  In both pieces he is entertaining, erudite –and you can feel his intense enthusiasm threatening to overflow at every moment. 

We are sad to see him go. 


Listen: Fishko Files "The Critic"


Listen: Fishko Files "Sviatoslav Richter"


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Comments [6]

Dana (Weinberg) Moriarty from Huntington, NY

I never met my cousin, Harris Goldsmith, but I certainly new about him. My father, Morton Weinberg, was the half-brother to Harris's mother, Abby Goldsmith, who I met only once at my wedding in 1975. My Dad passed in 1990, I believe the same year as my Aunt Abby. When my mother passed I composed a letter to Harris as I believed we were the last survivors on my Dad's side of the family because I never found any information as to his having been married or if he had any children. I never sent the letter for fear that he might think I have some hidden agenda to appear this late in his life. With the encouragement of a friend, I just took out the letter to research where I could send it and found that he passed away in April. I am heartbroken that I never followed through and didn't have the chance to meet him and introduce myself. If anyone has any information as to whether he had any children, my second cousins, I would love to know. Thank you... Dana

Aug. 13 2014 07:48 PM
Paul Bachner from Lexington, Kentucky

Harris and I were friends and classmates at the HS of Music and Art in NYC. We would often get together and play for each other. He was always respectful of my efforts but I suspect his honest criticism played a role in my eventual decision to pursue a career in medicine. I was with Harris at Carnegie Hall during one of Toscannini's last concerts with the NBC Symphony. We had "found" seats in the first row of the family circle and at the end of the performance (I think it may have been the Eroica), Harriss was so excited that he leapt from his seat to applaud with enormous energy and almost catapaulted over the railing. I credit myself for saving his life by grabbing his belt! He was a fine person with fierce musical integrity and I am saddened at his passing. I last saw him a few years ago when my wife and I had come up from Lexington Kentucky where we live to hear the Andras Schiff series at the 92nd street Y.

Apr. 23 2014 11:38 AM
Laura Miner from UWS

Thank you, Sara Fishko! A wonderful tribute.
He absolutely changed how I listen to music. I refret not staying in touch more over the years.
He was a real mensch.

Apr. 23 2014 01:24 AM
karl schrom from New Haven CT

I thought Harris wouldn't make it 20 years ago, when he had a stroke, but he recovered and his mind was unimpaired for the rest of his life. And what an amazing musical mind he had, and what a beautiful pianist he was. I knew him in the 1970s up at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in Connecticut, where he would regularly vacation, and where he coached many generations of students in chamber music. I heard him play Schubert, Beethoven, Schumann and it was all stunning. He could drive you crazy, but he was much loved and appreciated, and set a standard for musical insight in his reviews that is rarely equaled. I am sad to know he isn't "out there" any more.

Apr. 21 2014 12:50 PM
Gena Raps from Mannes college of music

A fitting tribute to a colleague who was an enthusiastic and intelligent voice about classical music!! He was a rare bird in our midst.

Apr. 06 2014 12:04 PM
Judy Fletcher

Thank you to Sara Fishko for remembering Harris in this way!

Apr. 05 2014 11:54 AM

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