Gwenlyn Setterfield of Toronto wrote the biography of the founder of the Vancouver International (Music) Festival, Niki Goldschmidt: A Life in Canadian Music (University of Toronto Press, 2003 $50).

Born in a castle near Brno, Monrovia on December 6, 1908, Vienna-raised Goldschmidt trained alongside Herbert von Karajan, listening to orchestras led by Richard Strauss, Arturo Toscanini and Bruno Walter. The privileged son a Belgian father and an Austrian mother, he graduated as a conductor in 1932. His uncle, Belgian's foreign minister, warned "La guerre est inevitable" and booked him passage to the United States in 1937. He first saw Canada in 1938. He came to Toronto in 1946 and started the Canadian Opera Company and Canada's first opera school, thereby influencing the rise of singers such as Robert Goulet, Teresa Stratas, Jon Vickers and Maureen Forrester. In 1957 he came to Vancouver and managed the Vancouver International Festival, bringing Joan Sutherland to the remote West Coast burg for her North American debut, conducted by Bruno Walter. Known for his internationalism, he subsequently made his mark as an impresario, organizing smalltown music festivals. He was still alive at 93 when the biography appeared.

Photo: Goldschmidt and Maureen Forrester at Vancouver International Festival in 1958.

[BCBW 2003] "Music"