Golden Chamber Music
at Sleepy Hollow

Remembering Sam Golden

Sam and Paula Golden founded Chamber Music at Sleepy Hollow in the fall of 1969. Sadly, Sam passed away in March of 2016. Read a tribute from coordinators Alison Edwards and Tom Morgan and "Daniel Golden Remembers His Dad" below.

Sam Golden on bass
Sam Golden on his double bass

A Tribute From Alison and Tom

“A mountain of a man.”
“Sleepy Hollow changed my life.”
“He seemed like he should just go on forever.”
“When I am in a stressful, conflicted situation, it helps to ask myself, ‘What would Sam do?’ ”

These are typical tributes pouring in since Sam Golden, founder and mentor-in-chief of the Sleepy Hollow Chamber Music weekends, died at home at age 89 (almost 90), after a long illness. He and Paula birthed and nurtured this unique community for close to 50 years, and we are the beneficiaries.

Both of us, like so many others, picked up long abandoned or at least dormant instruments after happening upon a weekend at Sleepy Hollow. Sam had a gift for taking everyone seriously, both as a player and as a person. With a unique mix of authority, reserve, and quiet humor, he made us all feel welcome and valued.

Sam worked tirelessly, often waking up at 3 o'clock in the morning to work out playing schedules for the day. For reasons we cannot figure out, chronic sleeplessness never stopped him from playing all seven sessions, or dropping into any party that might pop up along the way. Sam just loved music and loved to share it. He also loved justice, books, and ideas. Most of all, he loved his family. He shared all these gifts widely. To his many communities, he was a voice of moral authority.

If there is a single moment that captures the spirit of Sleepy Hollow that Sam and Paula built, it is the session the weekend just after the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Planes were grounded, so Eric Lewis, the coach from New York, could not participate, and border closings prevented a few others. But everyone else showed up, ready to play. To a person, we agreed there was no place we’d rather be than at Sleepy Hollow, together with our musical family, comforted by friends and the timelessness of music.

We are remembering Sam here, but Sam to most of us was and still is SamandPaula. One name. It is through their very large “extended family” that many of us know each other. Along with the music, there are friendships that will last for the rest of our lives. It is hard to express how immense it all is, but we all feel it.

Thank you, Sam. You are sorely missed. Thank you, SamandPaula. We love you both.

Daniel Golden Remembers His Dad

Daniel Golden submitted the following capsule bio to the University of Chicago press office:

Sam Golden

My father had a long career at the University, a graduate of the Hutchins College and the UC Law School. He started his career in Leon Depres' law office practicing labor law. In 1953 he became a labor attorney at Argonne National Laboratory, shortly after he became chief counsel there. I have attached his memoir which we discovered yesterday ("My Life So Far") written in October of 2011, which has exact dates for things, and might be useful. In 1962 he joined the Office of Legal Counsel at the University. He remained there until his retirement in 2003, but continued to work part-time in that office until 2008.

Dad was very much involved in UC contracts with government bodies including the Department of Energy. He was instrumental in drafting the separation agreement between the UC hospitals and the University. He continued to be involved in the relationship between the University and Argonne National Laboratory and later Fermilab.

Outside of his work for the University, Dad was very active on the Board of KAM II Congregation in Hyde Park, serving as Temple President during the time of the merger of its two predecessor synagogues, KAM Temple and Congregation Isaiah Israel.

One of my siblings, Anne Ruth Golden, was severely intellectually handicapped. My parents were heavily involved in her care and in support for the institution where she spent all of her adult life, Mount St. Joseph Home in Lake Zurich, IL. Dad was a founding director of the VOR, an advocacy group for intellectually disabled children and adults in residential care.

An extremely devoted cellist and chamber musician, Dad was active in on-campus music. With the late Zita Cogan of the University of Chicago Music Department, and resort owner Richard Gray, Dad founded Sleepy Hollow Chamber Music, a wonderful outlet for adult musicians to come together in musical fellowship. For 45 years Dad was coordinator and a leading light of what is now known as "Golden Chamber Music at Sleepy Hollow."