The German composer and conductor, Friedrich Goldmann, began his music education began in 1951 when he joined the Dresdner Kreuzchor. At age 18, he briefly studied composition with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Darmstadt (Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, 1959), who further encouraged him over the following years. He moved on to study with Johannes Paul Thilman at the Dresden Conservatory from 1959, taking his exam in 1962. From 1962 until 1964 he attended a master-class at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin with Rudolf Wagner-Régeny. Around this time, he worked as a freelance musical assistant at the Berliner Ensemble where he befriended other composers, writers and directors, including Heiner Müller, Luigi Nono, Ruth Berghaus, BK Tragelehn and Luca Lombardi. He also met Paul Dessau, who became a close friend and mentor. From 1964 until 1968, he studied music theory at Humboldt University of Berlin.
Thereafter Friedrich Goldmann worked as a freelance composer and conductor, and continued writing for theatre productions as well as scoring numerous DEFA movies. Major commissions include works for the 425th anniversary of the Saxonian State Library in Dresden, the 20th anniversary celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Expo 2000 in Hannover, Ensemble Modern, Arditti Quartet, several works for Konzerthaus Berlin, Semperoper Dresden and the Pélerinages Festival in Weimar.
As a conductor, Friedrich Goldmann worked with several orchestras and ensembles (including Berliner Philharmoniker - [CD: Stockhausen "Gruppen", Deutsche Grammophon], Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Berlin [including Arnold Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, 1987], SWR Sinfonieorchester, Gruppe Neue Musik “Hanns Eisler” and Scharoun Ensemble) and performed all over Europe, Russia, USA, Japan and South Korea. He had a close working relationship with Ensemble Modern from the first days of the ensemble’s formation. Their collaborations included a tour of Russia, the French and German premieres of Luigi Nono’s Prometeo, as well as performances and recordings of Goldmann’s own works.
Since 1988 Friedrich Goldmann was the principal conductor of the Boris Blacher Ensemble in Berlin. Recordings of his and other composers’ music (Wolfgang Rihm, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Hans Werner Henze) have been released by Nova, Wergo, Deutsche Grammophon, Academy, Edel Classics, RCA, BMG and other labels. In the mid 1990's, he was forced to quit conducting due to health reasons. Other conductors who have performed his works include Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Mark Elder, Ernest Bour, Kurt Masur and Ingo Metzmacher.
From 1980 until 1991, Friedrich Goldmann taught master-classes at Berlin’s Akademie der Künste. In 1991 he became a professor of composition at the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin (now Universität der Künste). There, he headed the Institute for New Music from 2003 until 2005. He also held master classes in Seoul (South Korea), Los Angeles (USA) and Tokyo (Japan). Among his students were Enno Poppe, Helmut Oehring, Nicolaus Richter de Vroe, Steffen Schleiermacher, Chatschatur Kanajan, Johannes Wallmann, Charlotte Seither, Paul Frick and Sergej Newski. He was a member of the Academies of Fine Arts of Berlin and Dresden, the German-French Cultural Council, and Deutscher Musikrat. From 1990 until 1997 he was president of the German section of the International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM).
Friedrich Goldmann died in Berlin on July 24, 2009. His grave is located at Berlin’s Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof. Currently the majority of his autograph scores are located at the archive of Berlin’s Akademie der Künste (Friedrich Goldmann Archiv).