Goddard Lieberson

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Goddard Lieberson
File:LIEBERSON Goddard phD.jpg
Goddard circa 1950
Born (1911-04-05)April 5, 1911
Hanley, Staffordshire, England, UK
Died May 29, 1977(1977-05-29) (aged 66)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Years active 1949-1977
Spouse(s) Vera Zorina (m. 1946–77) (his death) (2 children)
Children Peter Lieberson
Jonathan Lieberson

Goddard Lieberson (April 5, 1911 – May 29, 1977) was the president of Columbia Records from 1956 to 1971, and again from 1973 to 1975.[1] He became president of the Recording Industry Association of America in 1964.[2] He was also a composer, and studied with George Frederick McKay, at the University of Washington, Seattle.


He was born on April 5, 1911, in Hanley in Staffordshire and brought to the United States as a child.[3] He was married to actress/dancer Vera Zorina from 1946 until his death in 1977. They had two sons: Peter Lieberson, a composer, and Jonathan Lieberson.

Before becoming president of the company, Lieberson was responsible for Columbia's introduction of the long-playing record.[4] The LP was particularly well-suited to Columbia's long-established classical repertoire, as recorded by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Artur Rodziński, Dmitri Mitropoulos, and Leonard Bernstein.

He was promoted to president of Columbia Records from 1956 to 1971 and again from 1973 to 1975. In 1966, in a reorganization, Columbia Records became subsidiary to the newly formed CBS/Columbia Group.[5] In 1967, Lieberson promoted Clive Davis to president of Columbia Records.

He died of cancer in New York City on May 29, 1977, aged 66.[4]

Lieberson was the grandfather of sisters Elizabeth (Lizzie), Katherine, and Kristina, who are now members of the band TEEN.[6]

Cast recordings

His greatest legacy, however, was probably the original cast recordings he produced. Columbia was not the first to offer such recordings; Musicraft's 1938 recording of The Cradle Will Rock was the first (not Decca's 1943 recording of Oklahoma! as is often erroneously stated). Lieberson's recordings at Columbia, however, were influential.

In addition to documenting the musical performances of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, Lieberson also produced notable studio cast recordings of musicals of the 1930s and 1940s, such as Pal Joey and The Boys from Syracuse, for which cast albums had not been made.

Though vinyl fans might consider Lieberson’s greatest legacy his being responsible for the introduction of the LP record, most observers consider his Broadway show production as his singular achievement.

Though other labels had issued Broadway shows on LP (Decca issued “Guys and Dolls” in 1950) Lieberson’s extensive coverage of Broadway mainstreamed and popularized original cast recordings.

In fact, Lieberson provided the $375,000 needed to produce the stage production of “My Fair Lady”, considered to be among the greatest shows ever, in exchange for the rights to release on Columbia the original cast recording.

The investment paid off both on stage and at the record store. The original cast recording (in mono only), starring Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison, topped the Billboard 200 charts for 15 weeks between 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1959. A stereo recording produced in England with Andrews and Harrison was issued in 1959.[7]

See also


Preceded by
President of Columbia Records/CBS Records
1956 to 1971
Succeeded by
Clive Davis
Preceded by
President of RIAA
1964 to 1977
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Clive Davis
President of CBS Records
1973 to 1975
Succeeded by
Walter Yetnikoff


  1. "Lieberson, Back at C.B.S. Post Talks About Rock and Records. Lieberson Challenges Image". New York Times. May 31, 1973. Retrieved 2012-08-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Goddard Lieberson Named Head of Record Association". New York Times. January 22, 1964. Retrieved August 25, 2012. Goddard Lieberson, head of Columbia Records, was elected president of the Record Industry Association of America yesterday. ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Darryl Lyman, Great Jews in Music, Jonathan David Publishers, 1986.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Goddard Lieberson, Who Fostered LP's at Columbia Records, Dies; Goddard Lieberson, Who Fostered LP's at Columbia Records, Dead". New York Times. May 30, 1977. Retrieved August 25, 2012. Goddard Lieberson, president of Columbia Records for 19 years, who introduced long-playing records to the American public, died of cancer early yesterday at his home in Manhattan. He was 66 years old.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Lieberson Heads New C.B.S. Group. Put in Charge of Activities Outside Broadcasting". New York Times. June 10, 1966. Retrieved August 25, 2012. Goddard Lieberson, one of the more prominent figures in the phonograph recording industry, has been named president of the C.B.S./Columbia Group, a new unit of the Columbia Broadcasting System for expanded activities in education and music. The unit is part of the company's long range plans to achieve greater diversification outside the field of broadcasting.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Mike Usinger (June 6, 2013). "There's more to TEEN than it seems". Straight.com. Retrieved 2014-11-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Analogplanet Interviews Producer/Arranger/Musician John Simon (Corrected Introduction) By Michael Fremer • Posted: November 3, 2013.