Al Hirschfeld’s vibrant portrait depicts Goddard Lieberson, a pianist and composer who served as president of Columbia Records for nearly two decades. Earlier in his career, Lieberson shepherded Columbia’s introduction of long-playing recordings (LPs), which transformed the public consumption of music. Championing such contemporary composers as Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, and Charles Ives, he worked with major orchestras and conductors to build Columbia’s classical repertoire. One of Lieberson’s greatest legacies was the Broadway cast recording. Cast albums of such shows as My Fair Lady (1956) and West Side Story (1957) sold millions of copies.
Hirschfeld’s caricatures, playwright Arthur Miller once noted, “make you feel that he has found a wit in your miserable features that may yet lend you a style and a dash you were never aware of in yourself.” The artist, who knew Lieberson well and drew record covers for Columbia, evokes the revolving vinyl in the portrait’s spiraling eyes.