The English conductor and composer, (Aynsley) Eugène Goossens, was the son of conductor and violinist Eugène Goossens; and studied music in Bruges, Liverpool, and London at the Royal College of Music under Charles Villiers Stanford among others. He was a violinist in the Queens Hall Orchestra from 1912 to 1915 before coming to attention as a conductor with a performance of Stanford's opera The Critic (1916). In 1921 he gave the British concert premiere of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.
From 1923 to 1931, Eugène Goossens was conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; from 1931 to 1946 he was conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; and from 1947 to 1956 he worked in Australia, with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and other groups, and was the director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music. He held these positions concurrently until March 1956, when he was forced to resign after a major public scandal, only a year after being knighted.
In the early 1950's, Goossens met Rosaleen Norton, the so-called Witch of Kings Cross. Norton was known as an artist of the grotesque and for her interest in the occult and erotica, which Goossens secretly shared. They conducted an intense affair, exchanging a number of passionate letters; although Goossens asked Norton to destroy all of them, she kept a bundle hidden behind a sofa. In early 1956, Goossens visited Europe, unaware that Sydney police were already in possession of his letters to Norton and photographs of her occult activities, which had been stolen from her flat by Sydney Sun reporter Joe Morris, who had infiltrated her supposed coven. When Goossens returned to Australia in March 1956, he was detained at Kingsford Smith Airport in Mascot, New South Wales, following a tip-off by informants in London; his bags were searched by customs officials, who found a large amount of what was then considered pornographic material, which included photographs, prints, books, a spool of film, some rubber masks, and sticks of incense. Although he was not immediately arrested or charged, Goossens naively agreed to attend a police interview a few days later, where he was confronted with photographs of Norton's "ceremonies" and his letters. Faced with the evidence of his affair with Norton - which left him open to the serious charge of "scandalous conduct" - Goossens was forced to plead guilty to the pornography charges. He paid a fine of 100 pounds; more significantly, the scandal ruined his reputation and forced him to resign from his positions. He returned to England in disgrace and died four years later. Nevertheless, Everest Records asked Goossens to make some stereo recordings; he completed a powerful recording of Ottorino Respighi's Feste Romane just before his death and it was released as the sole selection on the LP.
Among Eugène Goossens' works as a composer are two symphonies (1940, 1945), two string quartets, two violin sonatas and a Concertino for octet among other chamber music, two operas, Don Juan de Manara was broadcast by the BBC on April 11, 1959 with Monica Sinclair, Marie Collier, Helen Watts, Marion Lowe, Bruce Boyce, Robert Thomas and Andrei McPherson. The performance was conducted by Goossens himself, an oratorio, The Apocalypse after the Revelation of St. John, and a concerto for oboe (1927), written for his brother, Léon Goossens. The Concertino, from 1928, also exists in a later arrangement for string orchestra which is sometimes played. In 1942 Goossens wrote to several composers, including Aaron Copland, to request patriotic fanfares as "stirring and significant contributions to the war effort..." Copland responded to the request with his famous Fanfare for the Common Man. Eighteen fanfares were written by the different composers and performed during the 1942-1943 season of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Eugène Goossens is credited for much of the lobbying to the New South Wales Government to build a music performance venue, a process then led to the construction of the Sydney Opera House. He is commemorated with the Eugène Goossens Hall, a small concert and recording facility that is part of the broadcasting complex of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Harris Street, Ultimo, in Sydney.
The 1956 scandal was the basis of a novel, Pagan (1990), by Inez Baranay; it also inspired a play, The Devil is a Woman, by Louis Nowra and an opera, Eugène & Roie, by composer Drew Crawford. The scandal is documented in the film The Fall of the House, directed by Geoff Burton