Max Goberman

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Max Goberman (1911 – 31 December 1962) was an American conductor. He conducted ballets, Broadway musicals (including the original productions of Leonard Bernstein's On the Town and West Side Story), and the classical repertoire. He was working on the first recording of the complete symphonies of Joseph Haydn, but died while slightly less than halfway through the project.


Max Goberman was born in 1911 in Philadelphia. He studied violin with Leopold Auer,[1] and conducting with Fritz Reiner at the Curtis Institute of Music. He was a violinist with the Philadelphia Orchestra before Reiner's recommendation gained him his first conducting appointment.[2] He was Assistant Conductor for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo's 1939 Australian tour. That year he conducted Aaron Copland's music for the documentary The City, with the narrator Morris Carnovsky.[3][4]

In 1941 his first Broadway job was as Musical Director for three ballets at the Majestic Theater, including Three Virgins and a Devil by Agnes de Mille. It was Goberman who suggested that de Mille approach Morton Gould to be her collaborator in Fall River Legend – a suggestion she nearly rejected because she knew of Gould only through his radio broadcasts.[5]

In 1945 he conducted the film score of Histadrut, an American/Palestinian co-production.[6] He orchestrated The Beggar's Opera[7] and conducted it on Broadway.

Max Goberman's first musical was Bernstein's On the Town in 1944. He later premiered West Side Story in 1957. He was nominated for a Tony Award for his involvement in West Side Story.[8]

His other work on Broadway included Billion Dollar Baby (1945–46), Where's Charley? (1948–50), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1951), and Milk and Honey (1961).[9]

In 1948 he conducted at the inaugural season of the National Ballet of Cuba.[10]

In 1960 he started a project to record all the symphonies of Joseph Haydn with the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, for his own subscription label, the Library of Recorded Masterpieces.[11] Had he survived, it would have been the first complete recording of the symphonies.[12] He had completed only 40 (or 45)[13] symphonies when he died suddenly at the end of 1962, aged only 51.[14] Some of these recordings were later released on CBS's Odyssey label, but the sound was poor due to the centre channel being held back.[15] The horn playing on Symphony No. 48 Maria Theresia is still renowned.[12][16]

He started to record the complete works of Antonio Vivaldi, but this project was never realised; he did, however, record over 70 works.[1] His recording of Vivaldi's Concerto in C for mandolin, strings and harpsichord was heard on the soundtrack of Kramer vs. Kramer.[17] He also recorded works by Arcangelo Corelli (the 12 Concerti Grossi) and William Boyce (the 8 symphonies).[18] In 1938 he conducted for Joseph Szigeti in a recording of works by Bach, Tartini and Mozart.[19]