British concert pianist Katharine Goodson was born in 1872. At 12, having already made several appearances in the English provinces, she entered the Royal Academy of Music, studying under Oscar Beringer between 1886 and 1892. After an invitation to play for the renowned pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, she was introduced to his former teacher Theodor Leschetizky in Vienna, himself once a student of Beethoven’s own friend and pupil, Carl Czerny.
Goodson spent four years studying with Leschetizky and despite having previously lost out on a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, her performance of the Tschaikowsky Concerto halfway through her studies so impressed Leschestizky that he refused to take any payment for her final two years.
On leaving Leschetizky in 1896, Goodson was introduced to the conductor and violinist Eugène Ysaÿe and played with him in Brussels. This forged a meeting with the American violinist Maud Powell, with whom she played numerous concerts, paving the way for engagements across Belgium, Germany and the South of France and rapidly establishing her presence in continental Europe. Goodson based herself in London through this period, debuting there in 1897, in Berlin in 1899 and in Vienna in 1900.
Between 1902 and 1904 she toured extensively with the Czech violinist and composer Jan Kubelik. Goodson then went to stay with academic and parliamentarian William Martin Conway, 1st Baron Conway of Allington and his wife Lady Katrina Conway at their London house. It was Leschetizky who again sought to further Goodson’s career with an introduction to the conductor Artúr Nikisch with whom she performed many concertos. He arranged her American debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Goodson made many international tours including visits to America and Australia, where she was well received. She spent much of 1916 in North America, performing at fundraising concerts for the Red Cross and Canadian Prisoners of War. In all, her international career took her to North America over a total of seven separate tours, including two world tours that she shared with the Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba.
She also toured Java and Sumatra and developed a presence in the Nordic region with a tour of Norway, Sweden and Finland. In May 1918 Goodson claimed to become the first woman to give a Recital at the Albert Hall, London, playing a Chopin programme on behalf of the Kensington War Hospital Supply Depot. The Pall Mall Gazette noted: “Her reception was extraordinarily enthusiastic and the stage was literally inundated with bouquets.”
Goodson married composer Arthur Hinton in 1903 after they had met in Vienna. Her international presence remained dominant throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The latter decade also brought with it Goodson’s first experience playing with the conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, in 1931. The two maintained a lasting professional relationship.
The Second World War interrupted Goodson’s later career, during which she experienced the destruction of her London home in the Blitz, followed shortly by the death of her husband and then further extensive bomb damage to her country home. Nevertheless, in in 1944-1945 she returned to the piano to play with the conductors Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Henry Wood and Basil Cameron.
In April 1947 Goodson appeared again with Beecham, shortly before making her first television appearance, which she swiftly followed by a return to radio in an appearance with the BBC Scottish Orchestra under the conductor Ian Whyte. Although Goodson made few broadcastings and fewer recordings, leaving her legacy largely unheard to contemporary audiences, those recordings that do exist remain well regarded.
Goodson carried on the Leschetizky tradition, writing extensively on piano technique as well as taking on pupils of her own, including Sir Clifford Curzon, Mark Hambourg’s acclaimed daughter, Michal, while the Canadian writer Elizabeth Smart also studied with her. She died in 1958.
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One Comment Add yours
So pleased to have seen your post on Katharine Goodson! She is a sadly forgotten pianist, which is something I have tried to address this year with the publication of a full biography. I hope you (and your readers) may find it interesting: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Aesthetic-Revelation-Katharine-Goodson/dp/1790856868