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Remembering Nicholas Goldschmidt

The Story


During his long and productive career, the unstoppable Nicholas Goldschmidt devoted his life to performing arts in Canada. He founded the Canadian Opera Company, taught some of Canada's top opera stars, including Jon Vickers and Maureen Forrester, and became the country's leading festival organizer. In this interview, Goldschmidt tells the CBC's Peter Tiefenbach how he began to love choral music as a young boy in his native land of Morovia (now part of Czech Republic). Later in the interview, Goldschmidt describes his move to Canada as "pure coincidence." It was a coincidence that also changed the musical life of his adopted country.Goldschmidt died on Feb. 8, 2004, at his home in Toronto.

Medium: Radio
Program: The Arts Today
Broadcast Date: May 29, 2002
Guest(s): Niki Goldschmidt
Host: Peter Tiefenbach
Duration: 6:13

Did You know?


• Nicholas Goldschmidt, known affectionately as Niki, was born in Moravia (now part of Czech Republic) in 1908.
• He was the second youngest in a family of six boys. His Belgian father, Robert, managed two estates for his elderly aunts. His mother Margarete came from a distinguished Viennese family.


• After graduating from the Vienna Academy of Music, Goldschmidt worked as a conductor before immigrating to the United States in 1937. In 1946, he came to Canada to head the Royal Conservatory of Music's opera program, precursor to the Canadian Opera Company (founded in 1950).
• One of Goldschmidt's traits, mentioned by almost everyone, was his inability to stay still.
• "Retirement," he liked to say, "is not a word in my vocabulary." -- 93-year-old Goldschmidt in Toronto Life magazine, June 2002


• Goldschmidt, a man famous for his infectious enthusiasm, was the artistic director of the Vancouver International Festival (1957-1962), the Guelph Spring Festival (1968-1987) and the Algoma Fall Festival (1974-2004). Goldschmidt also remained active as a conductor, performing with the CBC Radio Orchestra, the BBC Symphony and the Théatre Royal de la Monnaie (Belgium).


• Goldschmidt's numerous honours and awards included the Canada Music Council Medal, doctorate degrees from the universities of Toronto and Guelph, and the Order of Ontario. He was named a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1989.
• He was the focus of a biography by Gwenlyn Setterfield, titled Niki Goldschmidt: A Life in Canadian Music. It was published in 2003.

• Goldschmidt married Shelagh Fraser in 1948. Fraser was from a well-connected Toronto family. Her father, Alexander Fraser, was a prolific writer, historian and celebrated Gaelic scholar. Goldschmidt and Fraser remained a powerful duo on the city's cultural scene up until his death.

• In 1995, Goldschmidt served as director, producer and conductor of Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde, Canada's official contribution to the United Nations' 50th anniversary celebrations. At age 91, Goldschmidt spearheaded the country's millennium project, Music Canada Musique 2000. He was in charge of commissioning new works ranging from full-scale operas to sonatas from over 60 composers from across Canada.


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