Roy Goodman




26 January 1951

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Retirement Biography             Updated 04 July 2024

Roy Goodman is Director Emeritus of the European Union Baroque Orchestra.

He has worked as guest conductor with over 120 orchestras and opera companies worldwide - from Carnegie Hall New York to the Royal Albert Hall Proms in London, and from Berlin Philharmonic Hall to the Sydney Opera House.

In 2011 Radio New Zealand affectionately named him the 'Rafa Nadal' of conductors!

Goodman is well-known for his work as Director and Founder of the Brandenburg Consort (1975-2001), as co-director/founder with Peter Holman of The Parley of Instruments (1978-1991), co-director/founder of the London Handel Orchestra (at the request of Denys Darlow in 1981), Principal Conductor of the Hanover Band (1986-1994), succeeding Ton Koopman as Music Director for fifteen years of the European Union Baroque Orchestra (1989-2004), succeeding Charles Farncombe as Principal Conductor of the Händel Festspiele at the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe (1990-1998), continuing the work of Arnold Östman as the first Principal Conductor of Umeå Symphony Orchestra & Northern Opera Sweden (1995-2001), Conductor for seventeen years with the Västerås Sinfonietta in Sweden (1995-2011), succeeding Simon Streatfeild as Music Director of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra in Winnipeg (1999-2005), continuing the work of Thierry Fischer as the first Principal Conductor of Holland Symfonia & Dutch National Ballet (2003-2006), succeeding Charles de Wolff as Conductor of the Bachkoor Holland accompanied by the Amsterdam Royal Concertgebouw Kamerorkest (2003-2010), Principal Guest Conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra (2004-2014), Principal Guest Conductor of the Auckland Philharmonia in New Zealand (2007-2011) and Honorary President of the RSNO Chorus in Glasgow (2010-2014).

Born in January 1951, Roy Goodman first achieved international fame with the choir of King’s College Cambridge under Sir David Willcocks, as the boy soloist in Allegri’s Miserere (Decca Legends 1963).

(see end of Discography page!)

Just seven years later, in 1970, as a busy final-year student at London’s RCM, Roy became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, made his début as soloist in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (South Buckinghamshire CO/Malcolm Goldring), deputised as Organist at the Temple Church in London (a weekend substitution, while George Thalben Ball was on tour in Australia), played the organ at the Royal Festival Hall for three carol concerts and for a BBC Maida Vale studio recording of Respighi’s Pines of Rome (Peter Fletcher/London Schools SO) - AND got married!!

During the following eight years from 1971, after completing his violin studies with a performer’s ARCM diploma and a music Teacher’s Certificate ‘with credit’, Roy was successively Head of the Music Department at two large comprehensive schools in Reading (Alfred Sutton Boys School 1971-4, and Bulmershe School 1975-7 where he first met Classics teacher & soprano Emma Kirkby!), and was then appointed as Senior String Tutor for the County of Berkshire (1977-9) in charge of all the string peripatetic teachers.

In addition, he was leader of the Slough Philharmonic (from 1973) conductor of the Reading Youth Orchestra (1974-6), and was also ‘moonlighting‘ as an orchestral violinist on the London scene, especially with the Richard Hickox Orchestra & City of London Sinfonia, and John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi Orchestra & English Baroque Soloists.

In 1975 Roy Goodman founded the Brandenburg Consort, to perform baroque music in an ‘authentic’ manner, although initially on ‘modern’ instruments. However, it was clear by 1977, after making an LP of music by Purcell, Albinoni and Bach, that their musical ambitions would be more fully realised using ‘period‘ instruments, and so Roy set about

re-forming the group from the relatively small pool of suitable players in the UK at that time.

Roy was then invited, by Peter Holman and his pioneering early music group Ars Nova,

to lead a Prom in September 1978 with the BBC Singers at St Augustine’s Kilburn - standing-in for Duncan Druce.

The ‘chemistry’ of these musicians worked so well, that this engagement became the catalyst for Roy abandoning the security of the teaching profession in 1979, and embarking on a more precarious career as a self-employed baroque violinist!

Although, with Ars Nova, Roy and Peter made an LP for Meridian Records (Theatre Ayres by William Croft), it was soon apparent that their two separate ensembles shared many of the same players. Consequently, by merging Ars Nova and the Brandenburg Consort in 1979, The Parley of Instruments was born, and over the following decade they enjoyed the success of numerous concerts and recordings, largely researched by Peter Holman

and directed by Roy Goodman.

These include wonderful award-winning CD projects such as Monteverdi’s sacred vocal music (with Emma Kirkby, Ian Partridge and David Thomas), Arne’s opera Artaxerxes (with Catherine Bott), Boyce’s Serenata Solomon, and extraordinary world-première complete recordings of Biber’s twelve ensemble Sonatas Tam aris quam aulis (1676), Muffat’s five ensemble Sonatas Armonico Tributo (1682), the complete instrumental Ayres for the Theatre (1697) by Henry Purcell, John Stanley’s six Concerti Grossi opus 2 (1742), Capel Bond’s six Concerti Grossi (1766), JS Bach’s secular Hunt Cantata BWV 208, Telemann Recorder Concertos with Peter Holtslag, and Vivaldi Lute Concertos with Paul O’Dette.

Playing all of this highly enterprising and unfamiliar repertoire was only made possible thanks to the generous and refreshingly enlightened support from Hyperion Records!

Unfortunately, Roy’s family life sometimes suffered as a consequence of his musical obsession, and he sadly felt it necessary to resign from his position with The Parley in 1986 (although he was delighted to be invited back occasionally as a guest director).

But that is not the end of the Brandenburg Consort’s story however!

In 1990, specifically at the kind invitation of Ted Perry (the inspired and enthusiastic MD of Hyperion Records) Roy re-established his Brandenburg Consort & Orchestra, primarily to record for Hyperion the major orchestral works of Bach, Handel, Corelli and others.

The first, of their more than 30 CDs together, was of JS Bach’s Orchestral Suites in November 1990, and the last was of CPE Bach Flute Concertos with Rachel Brown in August 2000 - making an average of three CDs each year.

These include critically acclaimed CDs of Concertos by Charles Avison, CPE & JS Bach, Corelli, Handel, Myslivecek, Quantz, Spohr, Viotti, and Wassenaer, and three stunning CDs of Handel Opera Arias & Duets (with Emma Kirkby and Catherine Bott).

Finally, in January 2001 and 2011, the Brandenburg Consort gave two special concerts at St John’s Smith Square in London - to celebrate Roy’s 50th and 60th birthdays!!

So, back to life in 1979 - as a recently committed free-lance violinist with Christopher Hogwood’s Academy of Ancient Music, John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi Orchestra & English Baroque Soloists, and Trevor Pinnock’s English Concert, Goodman became a founding member of Ton Koopman's Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra that year, later to feature as Violin Soloist in ABO’s 1983 Erato CD recording of Brandenburg 5 with Koopman and Wilbert Hazelzet. In October 1985, Roy was an initial member of Judith Hendershott’s steering committee to form a new ‘period instrument’ orchestra in London, which would soon emerge as the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He was invited as the orchestra’s leader in 1987, collaborating with Sir Simon Rattle and Sir Charles Mackerras for several pioneering performances in the Queen Elizabeth Hall and OAE’s first three CD recordings, for Virgin Classics. These included Mozart’s Idomeneo, Schubert’s ‘Great’ Symphony 9, Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony & Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Weber’s Clarinet Concertos (with Antony Pay). Roy was also concertmaster again for them with Simon Rattle at Glyndebourne (Mozart’s Figaro in 1989 - repeated at the RAH Proms) and with Frans Brüggen (Eroica symphony), Iván Fischer (Mozart 39/40/41), and René Jacobs (excerpts from Gluck’s Orfeo).

In an effort to return to some regular teaching (and save his marriage), Roy succeeded Harry Newstone for a year in September 1986 as Director of Music at the University of Kent, where he played the organ in Canterbury Cathedral for Terry Waite’s Honorary Doctorate ceremony in November, and also conducted HMS Pinafore for a week in the Gulbenkian Theatre, in addition to his regular duties.

Very sadly, Kent did not work out as well for the education of Roy's three children (by then aged 14, 12 & 7) and in 1987 he was invited to become the first Associate Director of The Academy of Ancient Music by AAM manager Paul Hughes, and also invited by Sir David Lumsden to succeed John Toll as Head of the Early Music Department at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He decided to choose the latter for two years, and then finally in 1989 Roy succeeded Ton Koopman as Music Director of the European Union Baroque Orchestra - a position he held for fifteen extremely happy and fruitful years!! Since this post-graduate period-instrument training orchestra was (and still is) re-auditioned every single year, several hundred students shared Roy’s wealth of experience and enthusiasm at the annual audition courses.

Together they made regular concert tours right across Europe and all over the world, including Russia to Brazil and Israel to Soweto & Botswana!! They also made some wonderful recordings, including two sets of Concerti Grossi by William Corbett and Pieter Hellendaal for Channel Classics (with Andrew Manze as Roy’s 2nd fiddle!), two CDs of Handel cantatas and Rameau suites for Naxos, and a significant reconstruction by Simon Heighes of JS Bach’s St Mark Passion for Musica Oscura (now available on Brilliant Classics).

Roy has been Guest Leader for concerts and recordings with Robert King and Paul McCreesh, and also for Bach Cantata recordings with Nicholas Kraemer, Harry Christophers and Philipe Herreweghe. He was also a regular Concertmaster for Christopher Hogwood, including tours of Japan and Taiwan, and for several AAM Decca CDs: Bach Harpsichord Concertos with Hogwood and Christophe Rousset, the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos and Symphonies 3 & 6. He was also guest concertmaster with Kent Opera under Ivan Fischer, guest leader for Richard Hickox (Roy’s Best Man in 1970), Sir Roger Norrington, and Sir John Eliot Gardiner - as leader in Gardiner’s CD recordings of Monteverdi’s Orfeo for DGG and Mozart’s C minor Mass for Philips. He also played as Viola Soloist for Andrew Parrott’s Taverner Players EMI recording of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, and the the solo Viola d’amore parts in Trevor Pinnock’s recording for DGG of Vivaldi’s Concerto for Viola d’amore and Lute (with Nigel North), John Eliot Gardiner’s recording for DGG of Bach’s St. John Passion (with Rufus Müller), Christopher Hogwood’s recording for Decca of Handel’s Orlando (with James Bowman), and (more unusually!) played the ‘love themes’ in both Christopher Palmer’s film score for Valmont (with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under Sir Neville Marriner in 1989) and Prokofiev’s complete ballet Romeo and Juliet (recorded with the RPO under Vladimir Ashkenazy for Decca in 1991).

In the early 1990‘s Roy made his début as Conductor at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall - directing both his Brandenburg Consort from the violin in 1991 (Corelli & Bach), and conducting the Hanover Band in 1992 (Cherubini, Hummel, Weber/Berlioz, Beethoven’s Eroica symphony and the finale of Haydn 99 as a highly amusing encore :-)

Having first directed The Hanover Band in Beethoven’s Symphony 5 in London’s Guildhall 23 October 1981, finally becoming their Principal Conductor in 1986, Goodman conducted numerous concerts with them (including extensive annual tours to both East & West Coasts of the USA) and, most importantly, completed the first ever CD recordings on historic instruments of the entire Symphonies by Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Weber, as well as 14 Symphonies by Mendelssohn and 60 Symphonies on 20 CDs by Haydn (variously for Nimbus Records, BMG/RCA Red Seal and Hyperion Records).

Together their extensive discography also includes, for Nimbus Records: Mozart, Chopin & Weber Piano Concertos (with Christopher Kite), Haydn, Mozart & Weber Horn Concertos (with Anthony Halstead), seven dramatic Overtures by Weber, Mozart Symphonies 40 & 41 and Serenades, and Mozart Basset Clarinet Concerto and Requiem (with Colin Lawson and Gundula Janowitz); for BMG: six sparkling Overtures by Rossini, four Overtures & Symphony in D by Cherubini, and JS Bach Alto Cantatas, Handel Opera Arias, Pergolesi Stabat Mater and Music from Potsdam (all with Nathalie Stutzmann); for Cala Records: Beethoven and Mozart Violin Concertos and Concertante (with Stephanie Chase); and for Classic FM: Weber and Spohr Clarinet Concertos (with Colin Lawson).

As founder and leader of the Brandenburg Consort, Roy forged close relationships with several famous choirs over the years, to play as their regular accompanying orchestra.

The happiest and most fruitful of these was between 1987-2001 with Stephen Cleobury and King’s College Choir, including many memorable Easter Passion Concerts, and highly successful CD & DVD recordings: Handel’s Messiah and Israel in Egypt, two settings of the Vespers by Mozart, as well as Bach’s St John and St Matthew Passions.

Roy’s violin obbligato with Michael Chance in Bach’s Erbarme dich (1994) was viewed almost one million times on YouTube.

Other choirs they accompanied included Westminster Abbey with Simon Preston (CD of Dixit Dominus for DGG), Polyphony with Stephen Layton (many seasonal concerts at St John’s Smith Square), and Winchester Cathedral Choir under both Martin Neary (CDs of Messiah and Dixit Dominus for ASV & EMI) and David Hill (CDs of Handel Coronation Anthems and Purcell Funeral Music for Decca/Argo and Haydn Harmoniemesse and Kleine Orgelmesse for Hyperion).

In all, Goodman has himself directed over 125 CDs, ranging from Monteverdi's sacred vocal music to Holst's Planets (both using ‘period’ instruments!), including neglected romantic orchestral works by Berwald, Rubenson and Söderman, the complete Ballet Music by Mozart and Beethoven, and more modern works by Samuel Barber, Copland & Gershwin (with Measha Brüggergosman), Grace Williams, Warlock & Walton (with Manitoba Chamber Orchestra), Lowlands Away by Richard Gordon-Smith (with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus), Cello Concerto Falsa/Ficta by Willem Jeths (with Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra) and Janáček Sinfonietta, Idyll for Strings & Taras Bulba (with Holland Symfonia).

His CD recordings of the complete Schumann Symphonies for BMG/RCA Red Seal (Abbey Road 1993) received unanimous and outstanding critical praise in the worldwide press, as also did his complete recordings of the 12 Mendelssohn String Symphonies on 3CDs for the same label, and Corelli’s 12 Concerti Grossi opus 6 - recorded for Hyperion Records in 1992, and still chosen as the top recommendation in BBC Radio 3’s Building a Library in March 2013. (see Reviews page!) Likewise, his Hanover Band/Hyperion CD of Haydn's Symphony 102 chosen in November 2019.

In the concert hall, Roy has conducted more than 40 World-premières of Contemporary Music, mostly with his regular orchestras in Canada, Holland, Sweden and New Zealand - including the Concerto for Saxophone Quartet & Orchestra by Philip Glass, with the Raschèr Saxophone Quartet and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1995.

Goodman’s work in the Opera House includes repertoire by Handel, Gluck, Mozart and Beethoven - in Lisbon and Porto (Bastien et Bastienne), at the Britten-Pears School in Snape and Fondation Royaumont in Paris (both Tamerlano), and at Opera North in Leeds (also Tamerlano, with Philip Langridge as Bajazet), Opera Northern Ireland in Belfast (Don Giovanni), Flanders Opera in Ghent and Antwerp (La Clemenza di Tito), Staatstheater Mainz (Leonore/Fidelio), and as an annual guest from 1990-1998 at the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe (including Scipione, Tamerlano, Judas Maccabeus, Ezio and Amadigi). In 1998 he directed Handel’s Orlando (from both harpsichord and viola d’amore!) for Swedish Northern Opera in Umeå, and in 1999 he made his début at English National Opera with Gluck’s Orpheus, and at the Drottningholm Theatre Stockholm with the world-premiére of a new Swedish opera Trädgården by Jonas Forsell. In 2001 he returned to Drottningholm for a new production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare, and in 2002 conducted Handel’s Alcina for Stuttgart, Budapest and San Francisco Opera, with further performances of Mozart’s Figaro and Handel’s Rodelinda in Stuttgart and San Francisco in 2004-2006.

In 2004 Roy made an auspicious début as Principal Conductor of the Dutch National Ballet and Holland Symfonia in Amsterdam’s Muziektheater with a fabulous triple bill, celebrating ‘100 years’ of the choreography of George Balanchine (born 1904-1983) comprising Tchaikovsky (Suite 3 finale), Stravinsky (Agon), and Gershwin (Who Cares?)

(see the Reviews page for a Rave Review!)

Initially, it had been an invitation in December 1993 to conduct a televised Sibelius ‘Birthday Concert’ with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra that was the catalyst for Roy Goodman’s flourishing career as an international conductor. This engagement came through the legendary Ibbs & Tillett concert agency in London, due to a cancellation by Frans Brüggen. Subsequent regular guest appearances then included the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the four German Radio Symphony Orchestras at SWR Stuttgart, WDR Cologne, NDR Hannover, and MDR Leipzig, the Amsterdam Royal Concertgebouw, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Hallé Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in Perth. In April 2010, he made his début with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in three concerts at the Sydney Opera House.

After nearly four decades as a ‘workaholic’ (see 20 years of Diary pages at the top!)

Roy decided in February 2012 to seriously cut-back his professional commitments - perhaps a kind of semi-retirement or maybe just a few years ‘on sabbatical’. Nevertheless, in the 2013/2014 season he directed the Irish Baroque Orchestra in Dublin, Cork & Sligo, the Norwegian Radio Orchestra in Oslo, Tampere Opera in Finland (a new production of Mozart’s Figaro), the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra & Philharmonic Choir in Dublin, the Netherlands Chamber Choir and Le Concert Lorrain in Germany & France (three concerts & CD recording of Handel’s Israel in Egypt), and a week of workshops & concert with the Trinity Laban Conservatoire Orchestra in the Blackheath Concert Halls!!

Since 2014 he has been very happily retired - spending the Summers caravanning and hiking all over the UK, and the Winters hiking and swimming in Gran Canaria :-)

During COVID-19 (several months before his 70th Birthday) Roy decided to completely

Quit Alcohol - which has turned out to be an absolutely Life-Enhancing choice 🙏😊

Roy Goodman is an honorary Doctor of Music (University of Hull 2002), and in 2005 was made an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Music in London, presented by HRH The Prince of Wales. He has three children and five grandchildren, and loves offshore sailing, downhill skiing, mountain hiking, caravanning, cycling, squash and traditional jazz!

In Summer 2010 he completed a three month 2,800 mile solo UK Circumnavigation from Plymouth via the West Coast of Ireland, Hebrides & Orkney - sailing single-handed on his 11m yacht CREDEAU.

(see SAIL-BLOG pages!)

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