It was my privilege to be Alvin's younger brother. I looked up to him all my life, and followed in many of the paths he chose, from a keen interest in mathematics and science to a deep passion for classical music, a love of Israel and a fascination with cameras and Hi-Fi.
Alvin was very much his own man. He had strong opinions on every topic and would speak openly no matter what the consequences. He was also very witty, although he didn't care whether the listener heard the joke or understood it. He had no vanity at all.
Following a stint in our grandfather's furrier
shop in Bournemouth and a spell doing hard physical work in Israel building
roads, tending the vines, Alvin worked in retail in London. First he sold
cameras and then Hi-Fi, before switching to Hi-Fi journalism. He worked for many
different magazines, including some, like HiFi
Answers, no longer published. He also contributed to Stereophile
and Enjoy the Music.com in the US,
The Star in Malaysia, Canada
HiFi and he even penned a column for the Observer.
He was brutally honest in his assessments, which made him less than popular with
some manufacturers. He would even call out a less than stellar product by an
otherwise excellent manufacturer. In a world where most publishers must rely on
advertising revenue to survive, this brutal honesty is a rare quality.
I have lived in Toronto since 1980, so I would see Alvin only when one of us would cross the Atlantic. On one such occasion, in 1999, Alvin had just laid hands on the first Sony SCD-1 in the UK. This was the first ever SACD player and a superb piece of engineering to boot, not to be surpassed for many years. Alvin had me listen to it and record my impressions, which he then had published in HiFi News if memory serves. This was my first piece of audio journalism. Later I became a regular reviewer for Enjoy the Music.com and Canada HiFi. I started on this path, in addition to my day job in software, so that I could attend the annual CES trade show in Vegas as a reporter and spend the best part of a week with Alvin every year. This continued until a few years ago when he was simply too frail to travel. At CES, I entered into his world and saw at first hand the respect he was accorded by senior members of the industry from across the world.
Alvin's house was a remarkable sight. The main room was lined with records and CD's floor to ceiling, with many more in piles on the floor or on rickety tables. Valhalla cables snaked across the room, and for many years large Martin Logan electrostatic speakers and a Roksan turntable took pride of place. Other rooms in the house, and even a garden shed, would be full of boxes and components waiting to be tested or returned.
He adored Mahler, some twenty years before popular interest in Mahler started to rise. At one time he dismissed Mozart as inferior to Beethoven and Bach, but he changed his mind about this, never too proud to admit he was wrong. He loved the Proms, especially if there was the chance to hear new music. But he also liked folk and rock music, and could play a mean guitar.
Alvin never let his physical difficulties get in his way, continuing to attend the demanding CES shows although exhausted and against doctor's orders. He was never too tired for his work or to see family and friends. He would do anything for anyone. When my son David moved to London, Alvin took him into his home for many months until he was able to find a place of his own. Alvin had four sons – Simon, Daniel, David (yes – there are two David Gold's, both named after our late father) and Michael. Different aspects of his personality have rubbed off on each of them, and all four were always there to support him when his health declined so precipitously in recent years.
As the bard wrote:
"He was a man, take him for all in all, I
shall not look upon his like again."