The American pianist, Richard (Stephen) Goode, grew up in the East Bronx, in a family that could be described as "semi-musical": his father was a piano tuner and an amateur violinist who hoped his son would take up the same instrument. He sent his son to a neighbourhood piano teacher, believing that the keyboard instrument would give the boy the solid musical grounding he would need. When it became evident that the piano was where Richard's talents lay, his father sent him to study with Elvira Szigeti, aunt of the great Hungarian violinist Joseph Szigeti. He studied with her from 1949 to 1952. Through his association with Elvira Szigeti, Goode came to the attention of arts patron Rosalie Leventritt, who arranged an audition for the 10-year-old with Rudolf Serkin. Serkin was impressed, and recommended him to Claude Frank, who taught Goode from 1952 to 1954. Subsequently Goode was an extension student at the Mannes College of Music in New York, where he studied with Nadia Reisenberg (piano), Carl Schachter (theory), and Carl Bamberger (conducting). He studied with Serkin himself in Marlboro, Vermont, and at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (1961-1964), where he also studied with Mieczyslaw Horszowski. After attending the City College of the City University of New York (1964-1967), he completed his training at the Mannes College of Music from 1967 to 1969 (B.S., 1969). Among his teachers was also Karl Ulrich Schnabel
In February 1962, Richard Goode made his formal debut in New York. His European debut followed at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, in 1964. He 1967 he became a member of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players. From 1969 to 1979 he was a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. His career as a pianist was enhanced with his capture of the Young Concert Artists Award, the 1st prize at the Clara Haskil Competition in 1973. In 1980 he was awarded the Avery Fisher prize. He made various appearances with orchestras and as a recitalist. He also appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center again from 1983 to 1989.
A concern for the inner essence of music and its architectural balance has made Richard Goode into an introspective artist; the self-effacement that so often goes with this introspection (plus a dollop of chronic stage fright) kept him from seeking out the solo concert spotlight for many years. He had made a reputation for himself more as a chamber musician, with frequent participation at the Spoleto Festival and as a founding member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. It was only after the encouragement of respected friends and colleagues (Leonard Bernstein among them) that he left the relative security of playing chamber music and took the decisive step toward a solo career. Goode was 47 years old when he made his acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut with a program that included, characteristically, Robert Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze. Although turning to solo and concerto performances late in life, he has become one of the most respected recitalists of the day. His first public traversal of the complete cycle of L.v. Beethoven sonatas at New York’s 92nd Street Y in 1987-1988 was hailed by the New York Times as “among the season’s most important and memorable events.” and more recently he performed the cycle in London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1994 and 1995.
A non-specialist, Richard Goode won praise as a virtuoso soloist, compelling recitalist, committed chamber music performer, and sensitive accompanist. In regular performances with major orchestras, recitals in the world’s music capitals, and acclaimed recordings, he has won a large and devoted following. His repertoire is anchored in the middle-European classics, and like Artur Schnabel, with whom he has often been favourably compared (by Karl Ulrich Schnabel, among others), he has made a speciality of the long-neglected piano sonatas of Franz Schubert. His early 1980's recordings of the complete piano sonatas of L.v. Beethoven, for Book-of-the-Month Records and Elektra/Nonesuch, brought his insightful artistry to a wider public. His performances of J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Frédéric Chopin, Debussy, Janacek, and others have received equal accolades. He has not eschewed modern music, though his tastes run toward a more conservative style of modernism; the works of George Perle are prominent in his repertoire.
In recent seasons, Richard Goode has appeared with all the major American orchestras (New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra). In Europe, he has appeared with the Orchestre de Paris, Zürich Tonhalle Orchester, Berlin Radio Symphony, Wiener Symphoniker, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Bamberger Symphoniker, Philharmoniker Hamburg, Hallé Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Toulouse and on tours of Germany and the UK with the Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer. He appears regularly at the Edinburgh International Festival and BBC Proms, and recital engagements have included Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Paris’ Cité de la Musique and Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Salzburg Festival, Klavierfestival Ruhr, Piano aux Jacobins, Bad Kissingen, Brussels, Lisbon, London’s Barbican Centre and Queen Elizabeth Hall, New York’s Carnegie Hall and in Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles.
In season 2005-2006 Richard Goode completes his L.v. Beethoven concerto cycle at London’s Barbican with Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer. He also completes his recording of the L.v. Beethoven concerti and tours with the orchestra to Glasgow, Newcastle, Antwerp and Essen. He also performs concerti with the Tonhalle Orchester Zurich/David Zinman and Boston Symphony Orchestra/Bernard Haitink, and will perform recitals across Europe in 2005-2006 with a programme of J.S. Bach and Schubert, including London, Leipzig, Madrid, Valencia, Warsaw, Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Bologna, Genova, Perugia, Lisbon, Manchester, Reading and the Ruhr Klavierfest, and also in the USA including San Francisco and Los Angeles. He giving a major residencat New York’s Carnegie Hall throughout the 2005-2006 season, entitled Perspectives, including solo and chamber recitals, Lied recitals and concerto appearances with artists such as Dawn Upshaw, Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson, the Brentano Quartet, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Iván Fischer/Budapest Festival Orchestra.
An exclusive Nonesuch recording artist, Richard Goode has made more than two dozen recordings over the years ranging from solo and chamber works to Lieder and concerti. In 1993, Nonesuch released a 10-CD set of his complete L.v. Beethoven Sonata cycle, the first-ever by an American pianist. The Grammy-nominated set met with widespread critical acclaim and was chosen for the 1995 Gramophone Good CD Guide. Other recording highlights include a duo recording with Dawn Upshaw, and a series of W.A. Mozart's piano concertos with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. His second disc of J.S. Bach's Partitas was Gramophone Magazine’s Record of the Month in July 2003: “Richard Goode, whose generosity and naturalness as a man are reflected in his comparable qualities as a performer, now brings us his second volume of J.S. Bach’s Six Partitas. It really is a sublime disc.” His most recent recording of W.A. Mozart's sonatas has once again received much critical acclaim.
Richard Goode is co-Artistic Director with Mitsuko Uchida of the Marlboro Music School and Festival in Vermont (USA).
Goode is possessed of a restless intellect and has developed passions for literature (Moby Dick and Finnegan's Wake rank high on his list). He has explored visual art extensively as well, noting that these seemingly extracurricular pursuits enhance his musical ones. With his wife Marcia, who is a violinist, he lives in New York City.