On the death of a Titan – Niki Goldschmidt

An appreciation by Iain Scott

(The journal of the University of Toronto’s faculty of Music)

It was the twinkle in his eye. Yes, that is what I will most remember about Niki. It was always there, even when he was occasionally pensive and reflective, but never more so than when he was engaged in one of his impossibly ambitious projects. Engaged, committed, dedicated, passionate, scheming, plotting, encouraging, cajoling, pushing, leading, inspiring – so many facets of his incredible drive and energy.

There were always at least two projects underway — this one and the next one. Gwen Setterfield wryly captures the essence of Niki’s boundless gambler’s optimism and persuasiveness in a chapter of her recent biography, aptly titled “Something up His Sleeve, and More”. Vancouver, Guelph and Sault Saint Marie, of course, but also more recently, the Bach piano competition, the “Joy of Singing”, “the Glory of Mozart”, “Noye’s Fludde”, the recent Britten Festival. The day before he died he was happily planning a Mozart production with a friend.

Many of us believed he derived his energy and vision from his equally remarkable wife, Shelagh. They were everywhere. Every distinguished musical visitor would be regally entertained. At every performance of note, Niki and Shelagh could be counted on to be there, attentive and supportive, always knowledgeable, always opinionated.

I can still hear Niki spluttering about a modernist COC production some years ago. “Impertinent,” he fumed, with that rolled r of a mid-European. Le mot juste. Very Niki. All of us who knew him feel privileged to have learned from him. Thank you, Niki!