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Edward Goll (1884–1949)

by Mimi Colligan and H. J. Gibbney

This article was published:

Edward Goll (1884-1949), by May and Mina Moore, 1910-13

Edward Goll (1884-1949), by May and Mina Moore, 1910-13

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, H38782/362

Edward Goll (1884-1949), pianist and music teacher, was born on 4 February 1884 at Kaaden, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary, son of Edward Goll, teacher, and his wife Aloysia, née Schmitt. Introduced to the piano by his father, he learned violin with Otakar Sevcík, making a first concert appearance at 9. At the Prague Conservatorium he decided on the piano, became one of the five pupils of the composer Antonín Dvorák and studied in 1899-1904 under Emil Sauer, a pupil of Franz Liszt. In 1904 he went to Paris to play concertos under the conductor Arthur Nikisch, then to England to work with Hans Richter and (Sir) Henry Wood. In 1909 he toured Europe in a trio with Jan Kubelík and Leopold Schwab. A friend of Queen Marie of Romania, he received the Romanian Order of Merit for the Arts.

Goll came to Melbourne in September 1911 as accompanist to the Welsh tenor Ben Davies. During the tour he met Julia O'Brien, née Walsh, a 45-year-old widow with one child, and they were married in St Mary's Catholic Church, Hawthorn, on 13 February 1912. After honeymooning in England they settled in Melbourne in October 1912. Goll gave some private concerts but by December 1914 had joined the staff of the Albert Street Conservatorium of Music. After a concert tour in September 1915 with Henri Verbrugghen, he was offered a post in the new Sydney Conservatorium but, in November, accepted appointment in the Melbourne University Conservatorium as piano soloist (for recitals) and chief study teacher of pianoforte. Soon after, he was appointed musical director of Presbyterian Ladies' College.

Though naturalized on 15 August 1914 Goll, like many other enemy aliens, was under suspicion in World War I. A bitter campaign of vilification in the Graphic of Australia led in November 1916 to a petition from 110 ardent patriots asking the Presbyterian Assembly to dismiss him from the college. The assembly rejected it indignantly.

In 1922-23 Goll visited Europe, took refresher lessons under Eugene D'Albert and toured professionally in the United States of America with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and Verbrugghen. Returning full of enthusiasm for British music, he declared that (Sir) Arnold Bax was greater than Brahms and that John Ireland was a musical 'landscape painter'. He predicted rapid oblivion for Debussy, Stravinsky and Scriabin with permanent fame for Ravel and Franz Schreker.

As a teacher Goll stressed sight-reading, proper listening and constant, unremitting practice. 'Technique', he said, 'is interpretation' and for his own performances he was known to practise five weeks on one line. A contemporary called him 'the best practiser I ever heard'. Prominent pupils included the composer Margaret Sutherland and the pianist Nancy Weir. After a disagreement with the conservatorium authorities in the early 1930s he taught mainly at home.

Short and stocky with a marked physical resemblance to Beethoven (noted by many in the bust by Nelson Illingworth at the Melbourne Conservatorium), Goll was a popular teacher who inspired many. He recorded frequently from 1902 and surviving discs are held by record collector L. Gravino of Sydney and by the National Library of Australia. Goll's wife died in 1927. A diabetic from about 1931, he resigned from P.L.C. in 1935. He abandoned plans for another American tour after World War II and died at his home in Mont Albert of cerebro-vascular disease on 11 January 1949. He was buried in Melbourne general cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • M. O. Reid, The Ladies Came to Stay (Melb, 1960)
  • K. Fitzpatrick, PLC Melbourne (Melb, 1975)
  • Australian Musical News and Musical Digest, 1 Mar 1924, 1 July 1931
  • Music and the Teacher, June 1981
  • Punch (Melbourne), 2 Nov 1911, 30 Jan, 27 Mar 1913
  • Australasian (Melbourne), 21 Mar, 5 Dec 1914
  • Argus (Melbourne), 16 June, 17 Nov 1916
  • Age (Melbourne), 29 Jan 1949
  • University of Melbourne Conservatorium records (University of Melbourne Archives)
  • A1 22/16261 (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Mimi Colligan and H. J. Gibbney, 'Goll, Edward (1884–1949)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 17 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

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