Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Eugène Goossens has been the name of three notable musicians:
He was born in Bruges and studied at the conservatoire in Brussels. He conducted a number of opera companies throughout Europe, but became famous with the Carl Rosa Company in England, where he worked from 1873. In 1882, he conducted the first English performance of Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser in Liverpool.
This Eugène Goossens was the father of the following:
He was born in Bordeaux and studied at the conservatoire in Brussels and the Royal Academy of Music in London. He played under his father with the Carl Rosa Company, becoming principal conductor there in 1899.
This Eugène Goossens was the father of the oboist Léon Goossens (1897-1988), the hornist Adolph Goossens (1896-1916), the harpists Marie Goossens (1894-1991) and Sidonie Goossens (1899-2004), and the following Eugène:
He was born in London and studied music in Bruges, Liverpool, and London at the Royal College of Music (under Charles Villiers Stanford among others). He was a violinist in the Queen's Hall Orchestra from 1912 to 1915 before coming to attention as a conductor with a performance of Stanford's opera The Critic (1916). In 1921 he gave the British concert premiere of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.
From 1931 to 1946 he was conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and from 1947 to 1956 he worked in Australia, with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and other groups, and was the director of the NSW Conservatorium of Music . He held these positions concurrently until March 1956, when he was forced to resign after a major public scandal.
In the early 1950s Goossens met Rosaleen Norton , the so-called 'White Witch of Kings Cross'. Norton was known for her grotesque art and her interest in the occult , sex and erotica. Goossens secretly shared Norton's interests and they conducted an intense affair and exchanged a number of passionate letters, but although Goossens asked Norton to destroy all of them, she kept a bundle hidden behind a sofa.
In early 1956 Goossens visited Europe, unaware that Sydney police were already in possession of his letters to Norton and photographs of her occult activities, which had been stolen from her flat. When Goossens returned to Australia in March 1956, he was detained at Mascot Airport following a tip-off by informants in London; when his bags were searched by customs officials they found a large amount of what was then considered pornographic material -- photographs, prints, books, a spool of film, some rubber masks and sticks of incense.
Although he was not arrested or charged at that time, Goossens was asked to attend a police interview a few days later, and he naively agreed. Police then confronted him with photographs of Norton's 'ceremonies' and his letters, which a Sydney Sun reporter called Joe Morris had stolen from Norton's flat after infiltrating her coven.
Faced with the evidence of his affair with Norton -- which left him open to the very serious charge of "scandalous conduct" -- Goossens was forced to plead guilty on the pornography charges. He was fined 100 pounds, but the scandal ruined his reputation and forced him to resign from his positions. He returned to England in disgrace and died four years later.
His name is commemorated in the Eugene Goossens Hall, a small concert and recording hall which is part of the broadcasting complex of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Harris Street, Ultimo, in Sydney.
The 1956 scandal was made into a play The Devil is a Woman by playwright Louis Nowra and into an opera Eugene & Roie by composer Drew Crawford . It is also documented in the film The Fall of the House by film-maker Geoffrey Burton .
Eugène Goossens's autobiography is entitled Overture and Beginners: A Musical Autobiography.
- The Strange Case of Eugene Goossens and Other Tales from The Opera House, Ava Hubble , 1988, Collins Publishers, Australia (Ava Hubble was Press Officer for the SOH for fifteen years)
- The Goossens: A Musical Century, Carole Rosen , Andre Deutsch Ltd (July 1, 1994), ISBN: 0233988335
- Cincinnati Interludes: A Conductor and His Audience, Sir Eugene Goossens, Robert Matthew-Walker , DGR Books (September 1, 1995), ISBN: 1898343055
- Overture and Beginners: A Musical Autobiography, Eugene Goossens, Greenwood Press (1972), ISBN: 0837155975
- The Art of Sir Eugène Goossens - Conductor and Composer, Robert Matthew-Walker
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