Morris Goldman, 93; cofounded music society

Morris Goldman cofounded the Orchestra Society of Philadelphia.
Morris Goldman cofounded the Orchestra Society of Philadelphia. (Morris Goldman)
Posted: March 16, 2012

Morris Goldman, 93, formerly of West Mount Airy, a cofounder of the Orchestra Society of Philadelphia, died Saturday, Feb. 11, of respiratory failure at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison.

Former Inquirer music critic Daniel Webster described the society in a 1996 report as "one of the city's noncommercial treasures."

Mr. Goldman's son, Robert, said in an interview that his father "had an abiding love of classical music," though he had no formal training after high school.

A French horn player with the group, Mr. Goldman was its president and manager from the 1960s until he retired in 2001, said his son, with whom he had lived in Wisconsin for the last year.

Mr. Goldman and conductor Sidney Rothstein founded the group in 1964 as a "reading orchestra," the society's website states.

That means the society "exists to read scores during weekly open rehearsals," where it performs without an audience, Webster wrote in 1996. But the group "rarely mounts a public concert."

"On a given night," Webster wrote, "its membership can include Philadelphia Orchestra members, freelance players, conservatory students, retired pros, and amateurs determined to hone their skills to match the professionals who surround them.

"No one is paid," including conductors.

"Conductors who want to try out music they will be conducting elsewhere sign up to work with the Orchestra Society," Webster wrote.

Ernest Meyer, the current society president, said Webster's description fit the organization even today.

And, Meyer noted, its annual public concert is set for the evening of April 27 at Community College of Philadelphia.

Two of its more memorable performances during Mr. Goldman's days, his son said, were in decidedly nonorchestral settings.

In 1968, it played Mahler's Third Symphony at the Electric Factory, then near 22d and Arch Streets.

In 1976, it played Mahler's Eighth Symphony at the former National Guard Armory on the campus of Drexel University.

Mr. Goldman was a wholesale salesman for North Philadelphia manufacturers of lamps and fixtures from the 1950s until he retired in the early 1980s, his son said.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Goldman graduated from what is now South Philadelphia High School in 1937, enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and served as a gyroscope operator in Australia and New Guinea.

Mr. Goldman's wife, Sylvia, died in 2003. His son said there were no other immediate survivors.

A memorial service was set for 1 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at Abington Friends Meeting, 520 Meetinghouse Rd., Jenkintown.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or