We Remember: Composer Jacob E. Goodman

Wednesday, November 17, 2021 9:30 AM


The Shalin Liu grand piano at sunset during sessions for Jacob Goodman’s Variations on a Theme of Beethoven

“Every one of our members has benefitted from his hard work and devotion, and by the example of his own creativity and inspiration.”

Hubert S. Howe, Executive Director of NYCC

Today, we reflect on Jacob E. Goodman (November 15, 1933 – October 10, 2021), an American geometer, teacher, and composer whose passions spread far and wide and benefitted many along the way.

Goodman composed and improvised all of his life, studying composition with Ezra Laderman and David Del Tredici, and graduated from Columbia and New York University. Though Goodman had an innate ability to compose, a large portion of his life was dedicated to mathematics, specifically as a geometer.

Goodman spent a great deal of his career at City College of New York, where he eventually became an Emeritus Professor of Mathematics. In conjunction with his pursuits in Academia, Goodman was an author of numerous books and research articles, most notably the co-editor in chief of the journal Discrete and Computational Geometry. 

After a successful career in geometry, Goodman returned to an old love, and invested not only in his music, but in organizations that would benefit fellow composers. In 2002, Goodman founded the New York Composers Circle, where he would serve as its Concert Director and Outreach Coordinator, member of its Program Committee, and member of its John Eaton Memorial Composers’ Competition Committee.

Created as an outlet for composers to play, discuss, critique each other’s work, and to perform it for the public, the circle is celebrating its 20th year in existence in 2022.

Goodman’s compositions were performed internationally during his life, ranging from numerous U.S. states to Canada and Japan, with scores for a wide range of ensemble settings. In addition, his music can be heard in the documentary film “Meet Me at the Canoe,” produced for the American Museum of Natural History by his daughter Naomi Goodman-Broom.

Before his passing, a number of Goodman’s compositions were scheduled for recording and release, leaving a breadth of posthumous repertoire by which to remember him. The first, Variations on a Theme of Beethoven, is set to release in spring 2022 on PIANO SPECTRUMS featuring pianist Anna Kislitsyna. Stay on the lookout for more of his solo piano works, music for chamber ensemble, and his String Quartet No. 1 recorded by the Benda Quartet.

In addition to a library of music, Goodman leaves behind a wealth of knowledge across his respective fields and an organization that will continue to serve composers in the years to come.