The Goossens: A Musical Century

Carole Rosen, Author
Carole Rosen, Author Northeastern University Press $50 (546p) ISBN 978-1-55553-210-9
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Hardcover - 524 pages - 978-0-233-98833-7
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The Goossens, originally from Belgium, settled in Victorian England and for the next century produced a perhaps unprecedented array of talents. Eugene Goossens (1845-1906) and his son Eugene II (1867-1958) expanded British musical culture as conductors with the frequently touring Carl Rosa Opera Company. The latter's long-lived progeny played an even more extensive role in British musical life from the 1920s through the '80s. Leon (1897-1988), celebrated oboist, single-handedly transformed the orchestral role of that instrument. His sisters, Marie (1894-1991) and Sidonie (b. 1899), were noted harpists, the former with Beecham's London Philharmonic and then London Symphony orchestras, the latter with the BBC Symphony for nearly 60 years. Each was the first, and for many years the only, woman in her respective group. The enigmatic Eugene III, Sir Eugene Goossens (1893-1962), was a highly talented composer as well as a conductor of prodigious gifts; he conducted the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for a generation and later built the orchestra of Sydney, Australia, into a cogent body, launched the scheme for its celebrated Opera House and discovered Joan Sutherland. A scandal-he was mysteriously caught smuggling pornographic pictures into Australia in 1956-marred his later years. Rosen, a British singer and broadcaster, relates this vast saga with affection and complete mastery. The result is a wide-ranging study of an amazing family in a fascinating musical arena. Illustrations; discography. (Nov.)
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