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Marty Gold conducting.

My grandfather, Marty Gold is a pioneer in music and music technology and has always been a true inspiration to me. He is the reason I became a musician. As a child, I loved listening to him play piano. I was intrigued watching him write orchestral arrangements on a stack table by the pool, and I loved playing in family jam sessions with him over the years.

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Conducting the family band.

Marty Gold has enjoyed a diverse career in music. He toured with the Korn Kobblers as an arranger/pianist in the 1940s. The 18-piece swing band was all the rage and their best-selling records played on 175 radio stations daily in their heyday. The Korn Kobblers had some of the very first music videos on record.

Marty Gold left life on the road and soon became an A&R man for RCA Records in NYC. He arranged and produced such artists as Sarah Vaughn, Peter Nero, Lena Horne, and Marian McPartland. He also led The Marty Gold Orchestra and arranged, conducted, and recorded dozens of records for RCA, Decca, and others. Some of those recordings were among the first to be in “Stereo.”

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A few Marty Gold Orchestra records.

This became a theme for Marty Gold: always on the cutting edge of music technology. At the age of 70 he got a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer. He learned to use Finale music notation software at the age of 80. And now, well into his 90s, he continues to use the tools of technology in music.

When he retired from RCA, Marty Gold wrote arrangements for school orchestra and band for Warner Bros. Publications, Alfred Publishing, Carl Fischer and others. Some of the highlights in my own career have been where our musical paths have crossed. In the early 1990s, I was a music education editor for Warner Bros. Publications and as we were developing a series of Song/Activity books for Shari Lewis I was able to bring my Grandfather in to write all of the piano arrangements. Shari was thrilled to work with Marty again (he produced her records many years prior). For me, it was so exciting to be working with my grandfather professionally. Now, 15 years later we’re still working on projects together and it continues to mean the world to me.

With Father’s Day approaching, I want to thank my Grandfather, Marty Gold, for being such an inspiration to me. I am thankful for the career I enjoy in music and am thankful he modeled such an inspiring life in music when I was a child.

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Marty Gold and me in 2006.

Who inspired your decision to pursue a career in music? Please share your stories.

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    For me, it was Arthur Cunningham, a composer based in Nyack, NY. I studied composition with him when I was a teenager. He was Yoda, to me, and brought the world into focus, for the first time. He taught me how to take the unruly scribble in my imagination and bring it to paper.

    There were a few critical moments leading up to that, though. I started taking piano lessons at about six years old, mostly to imitate my older brother Steven, which I continue to find to be a pretty good idea.

    When I was eight, I was at a lesson for which I hadn’t prepared, as usual. I was playing a simple Mozart piece, and totally fudging it. My dear teacher scolded me, “You can’t make up your own notes to this. Mozart was the composer, and you have to play the notes he wrote.” That began my lifelong interest in composition, rather than performance. I immediately went home and composed two piano pieces, which I performed for my second grade music class.

    This interest in composition was further crystallized a few years later in a high school chemistry class. At that point, I had mostly switched from piano to trombone, and I still wasn’t practicing. One day, I had to ask my chemistry teacher for permission to go to a rehearsal during his class. He launched into a tirade regarding my priorities, and expressed frustration about me tuning him out during his class, and instead, “composing music, or something” instead of trying to learn chemistry.

    Though I had actually not been composing music in his class, he did have a real flash of insight, there. He was exactly right: I really wanted to be writing music, seriously, more than anything else. I began work on a vast piece for my high school band, and sought out a mentor, who turned out to be Arthur.

    Arthur was a magical person, trained at Julliard, and equally at ease playing jazz or classical. One moment, he would be teaching me how long to draw a stem; the next, how to imagine a half hour of orchestral music at a glance; the next, how to transmogrify the sadness over a failed romance into a musical form. Then, his cat Bear would come into the studio and proudly drop a live garter snake at Arthur’s feet, as a gift. It all fit together and made sense. I miss him very much.

    I can say, without a doubt, that my children were inspired to learn more about music because of their love for their Aunt Debbie!

    I remember reading the comments of an officer of the American Federation of Musicians, who’d had a busy month attending the funerals of quite a few recently departed musicians. He noted that they were all in their nineties, and had been active musicians until the end. He concluded that staying involved with music must be an activity that promotes vitality and longevity. Certainly Marty Gold is another inspiring example that supports that conclusion.

    When I was a senior in high school (Leominster, MA), I was accepted at a couple of business schools. Between Christmas and New Year’s, I was practicing my trumpet in my bedroom. My father, who was a chemical engineer having graduated from MIT, came into my room and asked if I had thought about going into music. It hadn’t even dawned on me. After New Year’s, I went to my guidance counselor, who recommended Lowell State College (now part of UMass-Lowell). I got in, graduated with a B.M.Ed. degree, taught elementary music on Nantucket for three years, worked in retail music in Miami for 10 years, and have been in music publishing since 1985. All this, because my father said, “Did you ever think…?”

    Great story Deb! My grandfather too was something of a spark. Charlie Packman. Not quite as accomplished as yours. He did get me my first accordion despite the fact that I really wanted a concertina like Corporal Agarn’s Gyspy cousin in “F Troup.” Not quite what I had in mind but it got me going. I guess there weren’t many Jewish ten year-olds in NYC playing concertina’s to begin with.

    Born in 1951. Elementary school teacher Mrs. Dorothy Santora encouraged us by galvanizing the students and making music a very important part of school assemblies. All my other music teachers were discouraged and discouraging. Thank heaven for radio and records. For years I remembered some RCA albums that stayed in my mind because of the colorful orchestrations and brightness of the sound. Years later I saw a Morton Gould album and thought, “that’s it!” It wasn’t it. Eventually I found out it was Marty Gold who opened my ears to LPs and their sound, a few years before the Beatles came out.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Jonthan. Arthur sounds like he was really amazing.

    Thank you, Darlene! They inspire me too!

    Thank you, Swamp Yankee. I agree. It’s wonderful to see how, young or old, music is something that can be always be an important part of our lives.

    Thanks for sharing, Thom. I know there are a lot of people out there who are glad your father asked that question!

    Great story, Ben! Thank you for posting. It sounds like we have more and more in common all the time! Children’s music, inspiring Grandfathers, and more!

    Michael, How exciting to learn that you used to listen to my Grandfather’s records. That’s terrific. Yes, they were (and still are) magnificent recordings. Way ahead of their time!Believe it or not, some of them are now available on CD through Amazon.com. Thanks so much for posting, Michael!

    I discovered Marty Gold via the RCA recordings he made with Peter Nero.

    For my money, this coupling is on par with Frank Sinatra being paired with Nelson Riddle!

    Close to a half century later, they are still electrifying!!!

    What a lovely story to read. And what a delight to hear that Mr Gold is contining to enjoy his life.

    I really have to say thank you to your grandfather for introducing me to the Moog synthesizer. Being just an impoverished schoolboy at the time I could not afford to buy too many records and after falling in love with the sound on Walter (Wendy) Carlos’ ‘Switched-On Bach’ of 1968, Marty Gold helped me develop the attraction that I had for the sound. He made a fabulous job on his renditions of The Beatles’ works and I still have that original copy of the disc that I bought over forty years ago.

    Many thanks for sharing Mr Gold’s wonderful story with us. Steve (in Spain)

    Knew your grandfather in Leonia many years ago. Would love to get in touch with your mother – any chance?

    Thank you, Debbie, for bring back such beautiful memories of your wonderful grandfather. I spent all of my growing-up years with Marty, Jackie, and their fantastic family. Always so much fun, so many laughs, and the best poker games in town! I am smiling right now just thinking about all of us being together…My warmest regards and Love to everyone….

    A friend in the States, knowing of my great love and interest in electronic organ recordings, sent me some cuts from ORGANIZED FOR HI-FI, and I was immediatly struck by two things. (1) It has that great 3 Suns feeling about it and (2) it is the nearest thing to an amazing LP made by Buddy Bonds titled ‘An Orchestra of organs’ on which he too used Baldwin, WurliTzer and Hammond organs. I just wish in the Discography for your Grandfather, that it was possible to find if he made any more recordings of the same genre. I must obtain them… I want them NOW!!

    [...] pleased to share a piano method booklet for children that I developed with my Grandfather, Marty Gold. Marty is a wonderful musician who has enjoyed an amazing career in music. In fact, he’s the [...]

    [...] pleased to share a piano method booklet for children that I developed with my Grandfather, Marty Gold. Marty is a wonderful musician who has enjoyed an amazing career in music. In fact, he’s the [...]

    [...] stack table by the pool, and I loved playing in family jam sessions with him over the years… [Read the full post] Grandpa conducts the family band, with Debbie on keyboard. This entry was posted in [...]

    Debbie, Your grandfather had to be so proud of you to know that your love of music and his influence on you will live on. What a great memory.

    Debbie,

    I studied ear training with Marty when he was living in NJ circa 1985. He helped me a lot in the brief time we spent together. Please give him my thanks for his patience. He is a very talented and humble man.

    BC

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