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  • Jonathan Goldstein RIP

    Jonathan Goldstein, classical composer who wrote award-winning music to advertise brands such as Volvo and Gillette – obituary


    Jonathan Goldstein and his wife Hannah, a leading saxophonist
    28 AUGUST 2019 • 12:41PM

    Jonathan Goldstein, who has died in a light aircraft crash in the Swiss alps aged 50, was a composer of music for films, theatre and television; those he worked with included the directors Martin Scorsese, Trevor Nunn and Sir Peter Hall, while in 2013 his Christmas hit, Magical Moments, spent three weeks at No 1 in the UK classical charts, ahead of music by J S Bach.

    Advertising music was a significant part of his work, including writing and arranging short pieces to promote brands as diverse as Volvo, Gillette (for which he won
    one of several awards) and American Express.

    Magical Moments reached No 1 in the UK classical charts

    One of the hardest challenges he faced was creating the music for a “cartoon” advert for the NSPCC, which he told the Little Black Book website involved “scoring horrendous acts of violence being committed against a cartoon child and making it as funny as possible”.

    Besides his commercial work, Goldstein also composed in the classical sphere, notably with the Balanescu Quartet for whom he wrote Cyclorama, a series of 20 individual pieces, many of them minimalist in nature. These led a Gramophone critic to write: “All those who value fine musicianship will find much pleasurable listening on this concise and often haunting album.”

    Jonathan Goldstein was born on September 27 1968, the son of a West End conductor who worked on the original productions of Evita and Annie, and on
    television shows such as the Two Ronnies.

    Goldstein worked with Christopher Palmer on the orchestrations for Martin Scorsese’s film Cape Fear (1991)
    “I wanted to write the stuff he played,” explained Goldstein, who identified his musical influences as including John Williams, Bernard Herrmann and “all these brilliant Nordic composers who seem to be emerging in hordes”.

    He started composing at a young age, writing incidental melodies for plays at school and at the University of Birmingham, where he read Music.

    His professional career began in the theatre, notably writing the music for Nunn’s 1989 staging of Othello starring Ian McKellen with the Royal Shakespeare Company, before getting his break in the lucrative world of corporate films and advertising. His first contract was for Thomson Holidays and soon he was working with all the leading London advertising agencies.

    In January 2008 he set up the Goldstein production company, a roster of composers who would be assigned individual briefs as they came in from the agencies. “I then work personally with each of them, honing ideas and sending things back and forth until I am happy to let it out of the door,” he explained.

    His first work for the big screen was working with Christopher Palmer on the orchestrations for Scorsese’s film Cape Fear (1991) followed by re-scoring Herrmann’s music for Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976), which was recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.


    Cyclorama: 'All those who value fine musicianship will find much pleasurable listening on this concise and often haunting album'

    In 2007 he was nominated for a Novello award for his work on Primo, the HBO/BBC drama starring Anthony Sher, and in January 2016 BBC One welcomed in the new year with two winter “idents” written by his company.

    In 2016 he married Hannah Marcinowicz, a saxophonist from Watford who performed with several of the major London orchestras and in 2005, while a student at the Royal Academy of Music, appeared at the BBC Proms conducted by Sir Colin Davis.

    The couple had recently collaborated on the London Golden Sax Project, which they described as “a unique rediscovery of London’s song heritage from the Oliver-esque street seller’s cry of Will You Buy to the timeless classic of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.”

    Goldstein, who enjoyed “chopping vegetables and getting busy in the kitchen”, was an enthusiastic pilot and in 2015 acquired a five-seater Piper PA-28. The couple, who lived in London, died with Saskia, their seven-month-old daughter, when their aircraft came down in the Simplon Pass area on a flight from Lausanne in Switzerland to Italy.

    Jonathan Goldstein, born September 27 1968, died August 25 2019
    Last edited by Maurice; 28th August 2019, 02:43 PM.
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