Friedrich Goldmann was born in Siegmar-Schönau, Germany, in 1941. His musical education started at age ten, when he joined the famous boys’ choir, the Dresdner Kreuzchor. In 1959, he was awarded a scholarship to study with composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, known for his groundbreaking work in electronic music, at the Internationaler Ferienkurs für Neue Musik in Darmstadt, West Germany. From 1959 to 1962, Goldmann then studied composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Dresden, followed by a two-year master class at the Berlin Akademie der Künste with Rudolph Wagner-Régeny, an expert in twelve-note composition. Finally, after working freelance as a music assistant at the Berliner Ensemble, he studied musicology at Humboldt Universität in Berlin from 1964 to 1968.
Goldmann worked as a freelance composer in Berlin starting in 1968. He ultimately became one of Germany’s best-known composers of contemporary music, with over 200 compositions to his name, including chamber works, four symphonies and major orchestral works for the Komische Oper Berlin, Semperoper in Dresden, Berliner Staatsoper and the Berlin Philharmonic. As of the mid-1970s, GDR authorities allowed Goldmann to accept invitations to perform in western Europe, which soon led to widespread international recognition of his music and commissions from leading concert halls in West Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, Switzerland and Italy. Goldmann was a talented conductor and led many orchestras and ensembles, including the Staatskapelle Berlin, the Neue Musik Hanns Eisler group, the Scharoun Ensemble and the Boris Blacher Ensemble, conducting works in most European countries, as well as Japan, South Korea and the USA.
Goldmann also composed for theater. He worked with celebrated theater directors, such as Manfred Karge, Matthias Langhoff, Ruth Berghaus and Fritz Marquardt, and had a long-term collaboration with theater director B.K. Tragelehn, which started in the early 1960s and continued to the end of his career. A few film productions were also credited to Goldmann’s name. His avant-garde scores for Rainer Simon’s feature films Das Luftschiff and Till Eulenspiegel stand out among all DEFA film scores ever written.
Goldmann taught master classes at the Berlin Akademie der Künste from 1980 to 1991. He was president of the German chapter of the International Society for Contemporary Music from 1990 to 1997. And from 1991 to 2009, he lectured on composition at the Universität der Künste in Berlin, where he also headed the Institut für Neue Music from 2003 to 2005.
Friedrich Goldmann died in Berlin in 2009. His papers are housed at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. [See also: friedrichgoldmann.com]