Ann Goldberg, BSO's music administrator 22 years

November 07, 1992|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,Music Critic

Ann Goldberg, 72, one of the people responsible for turning the Baltimore Symphony from a middling provincial orchestra into one of the nation's finest, died yesterday after a two-year battle with lung cancer.

Funeral services for Mrs. Goldberg are to be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Sol Levinson & Bros., 6010 Reisterstown Road.

In 22 years -- from 1964 to 1986 -- as the BSO's music administrator, she worked under five general managers and three music directors, helping to set standards in hiring artists and planning artistic seasons that made the orchestra a force to be reckoned with among the booking agencies on New York City's 57th Street.

"Everybody in the business loved and respected Ann Goldberg," said Mark Alpert, vice president for bookings at Columbia Artists Management, Inc. (CAMI), the world's most important concert agency. "She was as warm as she was strong."

After her retirement from the orchestra in 1986, Mrs. Goldberg continued to be one of the most musically influential people in the community. She was on the executive board of the Yale Gordon Charitable Trust and the board of the Concert Artists of Baltimore. And, as the music chairman of Temple Har Sinai and the music committee chairman of the Jewish Community Center, she was one of Baltimore's most important impresarios, presenting concerts by -- among others -- the Jerusalem Symphony, the violinist Shlomo Mintz and the Israel Chamber Orchestra.

"Her work for the symphony and for several other music organizations touched thousands of people," said BSO executive director John Gidwitz. "Everyone knew her and loved her."

Perhaps the person with whom Mrs. Goldberg worked most closely during her years with the BSO was Sergiu Comissiona, who was the orchestra's music director from 1969 to 1983.

"I'm devastated," Mr. Comissiona said yesterday, minutes before was to conduct a concert with the National Orchestra of Spain in Madrid. "I owe Ann everything -- from my professional success as an American music director to my love for this country and for the city of Baltimore. She is in my heart for always and I will be conducting for her tonight."

Mrs. Goldberg was born in Malden, Mass., and grew up in Baltimore.

Although she studied the piano as a child, she did not set out to have a career in music. It was only after she felt that her children no longer needed her at home that she took a part-time job in 1964 as a secretary to Peter Herman Adler, then the BSO's music director. She proved so knowledgeable about music, so industrious and so well-organized that it was not long before she was running the entire music department as the orchestra's first music administrator.

She was, she recalled in 1974, at first a little naive about engaging artists -- paying the concert agencies what they asked for. But soon she became famous among the booking agencies in New York for saying -- not long after negotiations about artists' fees started -- "let's get serious now."

CAMI's Mr. Alpert said that Mrs. Goldberg wielded personal virtuosity as remarkable as the musical virtuosity of the musicians she engaged. Several years ago, Mr. Alpert recalled, a famous pianist, miffed at what he considered ill treatment at a BSO rehearsal, was about to cancel his appearance.

"He was having a temper tantrum and Ann sat down with him," Mr. Alpert said. "I don't know what was said, but within minutes this pianist was eating out of her hands."

About 10 years ago, the pianist Claudio Arrau canceled a performance of the Brahms Second Piano Concerto at 3 p.m. after the last rehearsal on the day of the concert. With five hours to go before concert time, Mrs. Goldberg located another pianist who had that difficult piece in his repertory, delivered him at 7 p.m. to Mr. Comissiona's dressing room for a last-minute discussion and saved the concert.

"She got a tremendous amount of satisfaction out of her job," said Mrs. Goldberg's husband, Milton. "Years ago, when she went to work for the symphony, she told me that she loved the job so much that she'd continue working in music even if she wasn't paid."

Besides her husband, she is survived by two daughters, Jo-Ann Stadtmauer of Park City, Utah, and Elaine Eff of Baltimore; and two grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggested memorial donations to one's favorite charities.

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