Short Biography of Allen Goltz
by Pat Goltz
Allen is one of the most gifted musicians I have ever known personally. Here is his story.
Allen is my third child, the second son, and the first adopted child.
We first learned that Allen needed a home from a friend of ours. Jack was a Catholic who had thirteen children, and he sold us the house we owned in Columbus. Jack was always trying to talk me into believing in the importance of the visions in Fatima, Portugal. He never succeeded! I always had my doubts about who really appeared to the three children, whether it was Mary, the mother of Jesus, or a spirit impersonating her. Jack gave many talks against abortion, and that is why I had met him in the first place. One time when he was giving a talk, someone from Planned Parenthood came up to him and said, there is a baby who needs to be adopted, and we can't find any parents for him. Put your money where your mouth is, and find a home for this child. This actually happened twice. Both times, Jack contacted us. Both times, we adopted the baby.
I first received Allen into my arms when he was three days old. It was a privilege to be able to be a mother to him from such an early age. We were concerned about whether all of the relatives would accept him because he is part African-American. Some of my relatives live in Kentucky, and there is somewhat of the attitudes of the Deep South there. But when he was only three weeks old, my sister Becky got married, and of course, everyone came to the wedding. The only thing that happened was that all the relatives were vying to see who would get to hold him next! Allen was also baptized by my beloved uncle, Edward, at that time. My uncle is a Lutheran pastor.
From the very beginning, there was something remarkable about Allen, and the way in which he fit into our family. One of the earliest indications of that is the fact that when we would put him into bed at night, his older sister Marti would climb into his crib and put her arm around him, and they would sleep that way.
When Allen was an infant, occasionally I would "dance" him. I would turn on some music, and then I would move his arms and legs in time with the music. I never did this often, but thinking back, I realize it must have made quite an impression on him.
When Allen was a year and a half, we adopted Ken. We were able to adopt him at the age of two days. I was able to breastfeed both of them, but Ken had a medical problem of some sort, and did not grow very fast. At the time, I was breastfeeding both of them, and often, Allen would ask for the breast only a few minutes before Ken did. For this reason, when Allen was two, I talked to him one day. I said, "Allen, Ken is having trouble growing, and often, you ask for me to feed you just before he does, and you then get the milk, and I haven't had time to make more. So would you be willing not to ask for me to feed you anymore?" From that moment on, Allen never asked for the breast. This willingness to put other people's needs ahead of his own is one of Allen's most wonderful qualities.
When Allen was about three, I started teaching Marti to read, and Allen begged me to teach him, too, so I did. By this time, we were seriously considering homeschooling, at least, I was. So I proceeded to teach him all of the rest of his first grade subjects except for handwriting, and when he was five, we had him tested to see if he was ready for first grade. The tests showed that he was ready to learn to read. I have to laugh because he was quite a good reader by then. So Allen entered first grade at the age of five. He only went to school one year before we started homeschooling everyone.
When Marti and Allen were about seven and six, respectively, I arranged for them to have six introductory piano lessons. Although there was music playing constantly in our home, neither of them were exposed to any other formal music lessons until much later, although we did let most of the kids study folk dancing a couple of times, and Allen and Ken studied yodeling. We were homeschooling, and we liked to sign the kids up for little short courses. The woman who taught yodeling was quite a character. She was sort of a Wild West personality, probably in her 60's at least, and very good. She had a lot of fun with both boys, and I enjoyed watching them. They even got their picture in the newspaper! Allen also got his picture in the paper because we used to go as a family each year to the Messiah sing-in.
When Allen was nine, he came to me one day, and asked, "How do we know God exists?" You have to understand that he was always nine going on thirty nine, as far as his wisdom was concerned. I had a long talk with him, and I asked him if he would believe someone existed if he got a letter from him. He said he would. So I told him that the Bible was a letter from God, and it contained an invitation for him to come to a party in heaven forever. Allen never asked that question again. The answer I gave him satisfied him.
Somewhere in there, I don't remember exactly when, we got a computer program that helps people learn to read music. Marti taught herself to read music in two days, and Allen taught himself in three days.
When Allen was ten, I enrolled him and his sister Marti in a college German course at the local community college. I was required to attend class with them because of their age, and I learned a lot of German! That teacher, Viktor Krebs, had originally taught at my high school, and he was probably the best foreign language teacher I ever had, unless my first Russian teacher was. I am sorry now that I didn't find a way to study under Viktor in high school, but I made up for it in college! Viktor told me a way to learn to read a foreign language easily. He advised me to get children's books in the language, and a dictionary, and start reading, and look up every word I didn't know. When I began to do this with German, I had a reading vocabulary of 500 words. I read daily for half an hour, and at the end of six months, I had a reading vocabulary of 5000 words and a reading speed of 300 wpm. Viktor also made an impression on our older children. Tom was also in the class, and the three of them took four semesters altogether, and made straight A's. After the first semester, Viktor called me and told me that some of the other students resented having the younger two in class (probably because they knew more grammar, and these students considered themselves good students) and he didn't want to lose them as students, so he wanted to know if I would mind not enrolling them. I told him that the college had allowed them to be enrolled, and if these other students objected, that was their problem. We never had any further trouble, but it is worth noting that I frequently had to run interference for the children, because people didn't want to allow them to engage in legitimate activities simply because of their age. As far as I am concerned, a well-behaved child belongs in any legitimate activity provided he or she is capable of the activity, and willing to do it.
I ran into two variations on this problem.
The first took place because we used to go rockhunting with Harrison Yocum. (Photos of some of Harrison's flowers are on my plant photos page.) Harrison is a real character. He is knowledgeable in botany, and cares for the indoor plants at Tucson International Airport for a living. He has a yard he has landscaped himself, with most unusual landscaping techniques. Many of the rocks he has collected on his trips are piled into large mountains on one side of the yard. In little niches in these rocks, he has planted cacti and other plants. I also have a photo or two of these mountains on my photos page. There are also other plants elsewhere, all over his yard. Some of the plants in my yard are gifts from him. At one time, Harrison had a collection of over 100 species of palms. The inside of his house is just as interesting as the outside. There is a small add-on room in the front with an outside wall built of the rocks he collected. He also has a piano and an organ, and he has composed over 150 waltzes for piano. There are wonderful minerals all over the house, and many interesting antiques. Harrison has a wacky sense of humor. One of his favorite things to do is make a noise like a cow. He also likes to wear his ranger uniform with some very large pieces of American Indian jewelry. He comes to my kids' weddings dressed like that!
Anyway, on one particular occasion, some of us were on a rockhunting trip, including Allen. We were standing on the side of a hill, and there were a lot of loose rocks around. Allen accidentally dislodged one, and it rolled right past another woman who was on the trip. She yelled and screamed at Allen and said children didn't belong in the group. It hurt Allen terribly.
The second situation involved the fact that I would take the kids to Tucson Masterworks Chorale rehearsals, and when they got older, Allen and Marti started singing in the chorus. This caused criticism from some of the other members. But my dear friend Rita, who was on the board, stuck up for us, so they stayed. It was pointed out that some of the other singers could not read music, but Marti and Allen could.
Somewhere in here, I don't remember exactly when, Allen surprised me with another talent I didn't know he had. I was gone one day, but when I got home, he showed me a drawing of Beethoven. It was very, very detailed, even with individual hairs, and really looked like him. I was able to help some of the other kids learn to do that, too, but I will never forget how surprised I was.
Nothing else truly remarkable happened that I recall until Allen was around twelve. At that point, Allen and I were alone together in the car one Monday, and he said, "I would like to study piano." I said that I would be willing to teach him, but that our piano had been damaged in the October flood. (The October flood was a "100 year" flood that happened here. It was so severe that it widened all the rivers to twice their former width, and washed out a bunch of bridges.) So I suggested to Allen that he pray for a piano. Neither of us told anyone else about our conversation.
The following Friday, I was talking to my mother-in-law, and she said, "Hildegard wants you to call her." Hildegard was a dear, dear friend. She has always had a burden that people should be able to hear and read the Bible in their own language. She is one of the reasons why I have all those languages on my Bible page. I will tell that story elsewhere. Anyway, on Sunday, I called Hildegard, and she said, "The Lord told me to give you my organ this week." So I went out in the living room, and I said to Allen, "You know about the fact that we decided to pray for a piano? Will an organ do?" So some of the boys went over there that very day and picked it up. Within three weeks, Allen had taught himself how to play the Prelude in C from the Well Tempered Clavier by Bach, and shortly after, the Toccata from Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d.
A year later, Allen asked me if he could have violin lessons. At first, I told him no, and I said it was because I didn't know anything about violin, and we couldn't afford lessons. I had bought a Suzuki 7/8 violin for $25, and Allen knew about it. Not long after, Allen located a woman who was willing to teach him for free. Allen had only four lessons from her in the following year, and at the end of that time, she planned to attend Oberlin, and she said she was going to tell her teacher, Dennis Bourret, about Allen. Dennis is the director of Tucson Junior Strings, which I tell about here. When Dennis heard about Allen, he asked to meet him.
To make a long story short, Dennis took Allen on as a violin student. Within two years, Allen was playing standard concert repertoire with Tucson Junior Strings, and touring with them.
During this time, also, Allen began to study trombone. His teacher, Tom Herrera, took note of Allen's interest in conducting, and suggested that Allen put together a swing band. Allen found twenty four high school level jazz players, a director, Pete Swann, and a place to practice. He kept everyone together and on the ball. After a semester of practice, the group performed three swing pieces at a citywide jazz festival. After that, Allen was too busy to keep it going, and it fell apart.
Allen also continued to teach himself piano, and did do some conducting from time to time. After taking a course in music theory from Dennis, he was offered a full expense scholarship to the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida, where he went to study viola for a year. After that, he returned home, and after having some other adventures, he has earned a degree in voice performance, magna cum laude, at the University of Arizona. He has a loyal fan club whenever he performs opera.
One more thing before I finish this essay. Allen got to perform with Linda Ronstadt! He performed selections from Gilbert and Sullivan. He was able to put his talent for being a ham to good use. The performance was with the Tucson Philharmonia Youth Orchestra, and Allen is an alumnus of that group, where he played violin. After the performance, we were standing outside, and Linda came up and gave him a big hug, and said, "You did an outstanding performance!"
The other adventures of Allen's life will have to wait for another telling.
Allen has been a wonderful son, and I would like to thank his birth mother, from the bottom of my heart, for letting us raise him. I hope someday that I will get to do this personally. She has every reason to be proud of him. The decision to preserve his life was not an easy one, but I feel God's hand has been on Allen, protecting him, and that Allen is a precious gift to the world.