Phone: 212-860-5541 


Price: sold



Two page autographed letter signed, octavo closed, to an an unnamed correspondent, Vienna, January 19, 1895.  We offer with a vintage postcard profile portrait.


Goldmark writes:


Vienna, 19/1/95

Dear Madam!

Unfortunately, I cannot accept your kind invitation and thank you very
much. I'm going away in the next few days; first to Pest in concert matters
and from there to Merano.

Thank you again and greetings from your very devoted!

Carl Goldmark

Goldmark (1830-1915) was born in Hungary, the son of a Jewish cantor.  A talented violinist, he was sent to study at the age of fourteen with Leopold Jansa, the Music Director of the University of Vienna.  He mostly remained in the City for the rest of his life. In 1845 he began his studies at the Vienna Conservatory, violin with Josef Böhm the Director of the Conservatory, harmony with composer Gottfried von Preyer.  When the Conservatory was shuttered in 1848 due to the Revolution, Goldmark’s formal education ended.  After a stint as an orchestral violinist in the theater in the town of Raab and nearly shot as a rebel, he returned to Vienna in 1850 and continued to play violin in the orchestras of the Calrtheater and the theater on Josefstadt.  He used this time to teach himself orchestration.  The first all-Goldmark concert occurred on March 20, 1857 in Vienna consisting of a quartet for piano and strings, a symphonic overture, a setting of psalms for solo voice, chorus and orchestra, with rave reviews in the “Wiener Zeitung” the following day. Goldmark repaired to Pest for a short period for further study and in 1859 a second Goldmark concert to rave reviews was held there and in 1860 he retuned to Vienna to live for the rest of his life.

Goldmark, in his day was arguably the most successful Jewish composer in the German speaking world.  Unfortunately rampant anti-Semitism and sometime heroism in the Jewish community were problematic for him.  Johannes Brahms who at one time he counted among his friends caused the relationship to fracture due to anti-Semitism, so did Hugo Wolf.  At the time of the premiere of his  op. 14, “2 Chöre für 4 Männerstimmen” to lyric by Martin Luther, Brahms was heard to say,  “Wonderful text. Sorry that a Jew composed the music to it”.  It fractured Goldmark’s relationship with Brahms and it cased a riff for a time between Brahms and the Jewish pianist-composer Ignaz Brüll who was extremely close to Brahms.  When Goldmark wrote his autobiography, he did mention the incident, though using diplomacy did not display his true feelings, which were obviously hurt for him to recall the statement.  His opera “Die Königen die Saba” which premiered at the Vienna Hofoper in 1875 was considered to be a revelation in operatic structure and remained an important work in the German speaking world until 1933 in Germany and 1938 in Vienna. That said, the Austrian Jewish public and critics of the time took it to be a Jewish national opera and in Goldmark’s viewpoint, he did not write it as such and did not approve of its’ adoption that way.  The opera was so successful that it premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 1885 to great acclaim albeit only three performances in the initial run and then again in 1889 and again in 1905.  His opera “Merlin” was given an 1887 premiere there and Henderson wrote in The New York Times, Goldmark’s “Merlin” attracted a very large audience to the Metropolitan Opera House yesterday afternoon, and an admirable performance of the work brought out in the happiest manner the sensuous beauty of the composer’s music…..the impression it produced was not a vivid, perhaps as that which was wrought by “The Queen of Sheba” but from later indications it would not be at all surprising, in our judgement, if the newer and less characteristic opera wore even better than its’ predecessor……” 

Goldmark wrote six operas in total, three symphonies two of which were performed, one left incomplete at the time of his death.  He wrote numerous smaller works for orchestra including the two great overtures, “In Springtime” and “In Italy”.  His two violin  concertos are still performed, however, not as much as they should be as both are superb examples of the Romantic form.  Interestingly, Goldmark despite his religion admired Wagner from afar for his orchestral coloring and helped found the Vienna Wagner Society.  Unfortunately, the Nazi’s cancelled Goldmark in 1933 in Germany and in 1938 in Austria and unfortunately his popularity prior to that, which was significant has never recovered to the level it once had.  While there are lots of recordings of his symphonies, overtures and violin concertos, he is not programmed as often as he should be.  The music is original and deeply Romantic in the best sense of the word.  As an aside, Goldmark taught the young Jean Sibelius composition between 1890 and 1891.

One final note, Goldmark’s first name Carl in reference is often spelled with a German “K” as seen on the Berlin printed postcard.  It is important to note that in his everyday life he always spelt it with a “C”.