Goldmark came from a large Jewish family, one of 20 children. His father was a chazan to the Jewish congregation at Keszthely, Hungary. His early training as a violinist was at the musical academy of Sopron (1842–44). He continued his music studies there and two years later was sent by his father to Vienna, where he was able to study for some eighteen months with Leopold Jansa before his money ran out. He prepared himself for entry first to the Vienna Technische Hochschule and then to the Vienna Conservatory to study the violin with Joseph Böhm and harmony with Gottfried Preyer. The Revolution of 1848 forced the Conservatory to close down. He was largely self-taught as a composer. He supported himself in Vienna playing the violin in theatre orchestras, at the Carlstheater and the privately supported Viennese institution, the Theater in der Josefstadt, which gave him practical experience with orchestration, an art he more than mastered. He also gave lessons: Jean Sibelius studied with him briefly. Goldmark's first concert in Vienna (1858) met with hostility, and he returned to Budapest, returning to Vienna in 1860.