Max Goberman studied the violin with Leopold Auer and conducting with Fritz Reiner at the Curtis Institute; the latter considered him to have been one of his best pupils. In 1928 he joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as a violinist and shortly afterwards formed the New York Sinfonietta, which under his direction became noted for its adventurous repertoire. During 1940 Goberman conducted the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo when it toured Australia, but continued to be active in New York, where he organised and conducted the National Youth Administration Symphony of New Jersey and was chief conductor of the New York City Opera and the Ballet Theatre. At the same time he began his long association with Broadway: he was the musical director of the musical On the Town when it opened in New York during December 1944, and subsequent Broadway shows of which he was musical director included Billion Dollar Baby (1946), Where’s Charley? (1948), A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1951), West Side Story (1957) and Milk and Honey (1961).
In 1959 Goberman founded the Library of Recorded Masterpieces with the intention of recording all the symphonies of Joseph Haydn and the orchestral works of Antonio Vivaldi, to be sold by mail order. Presentation was in lavish gate-fold sleeves, with the issues devoted to the Haydn symphonies containing the full orchestral scores of the works recorded. This ambitious project was cut short by Goberman’s untimely death due to a heart attack while recording in Vienna, but in the short period of the project’s life he nonetheless managed to record forty-five of the Haydn symphonies in Vienna and seventy-five of Vivaldi’s concertos in New York. Alongside these two major cycles he also recorded more mainstream repertoire for a promotional series distributed by the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, entitled the Concert Library of Recorded Masterpieces. This included individual albums devoted to a single composer, containing well-known examples of their work as well as less familiar items. For instance the album devoted to Debussy coupled the Nocturnes and Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune with the late ballet score Jeux, and that devoted to Prokofiev combined the Symphony No. 1 ‘Classical’ and excerpts from Lieutenant Kijé and The Love of Three Oranges with the Overture on Hebrew Themes. Other albums were devoted to the music of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Wagner and Tchaikovsky. The orchestral and vocal forces used were all Viennese.
Further notable recordings conducted by Goberman included the complete Brandenburg Concertos of J.S. Bach and a complete recording of Gay and Pepusch’s The Beggar’s Opera. These were both historically-informed within the performing constraints of the day, Goberman having also edited the 1729 score of the latter work. In all his recordings Goberman’s conducting was uniformly vigorous and exciting, be the score by Haydn or Bernstein. His relatively early death in 1962 robbed the musical world of a true pioneer in both performance practice and commercial presentation.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Conductors, Naxos 8.558087–90).