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Samha El-Kholy

(b Cairo, 1910; d Cairo, May 3, 1991). Egyptian composer and singer. As a child he had a remarkable musical memory, and at the age of seven he joined a drama troupe to sing during intervals. In 1920 he began studies of traditional Arab music at the Arabic Music Club (now the Institute of Arabic Music), and he also studied Western music for a time at the Bergrün School in Cairo. He then embarked on a dual career as a singer-composer; possessing a fine baritone voice, he achieved great popularity, and he also won fame for his improvisations on the ‘...

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Samha El-Kholy

(b Cairo, Nov 25, 1924; d Königstein, Nov 23, 1988). Egyptian composer. His father performed classical Arab music with his own ensemble. After learning the piano and developing an interest in Western music, Gamal studied history at Cairo University (BA 1945), at the same time continuing his musical studies with Hans Hickmann and others. A government bursary enabled him to study musicology in Heidelberg with Georgiadis (...

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Val Wilmer

(b Cape Town, Oct 18, 1950). South African pianist, composer, and arranger. He grew up in the District Six area of Cape Town with the guitarist Russell Herman, studied music at the University of Cape Town, and played in various groups with Herman, including Oswietie, with which they toured South Africa and Angola. After joining Sipho Gumede in the funk-jazz group Spirits Rejoice he traveled along Africa’s west coast as far as Gabon, then in ...

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Samha El-Kholy

(b Cairo, Jan 6, 1896; d Cairo, Feb 16, 1961). Egyptian composer. He studied the vocal repertory (mūwashshaḥ and adwār) with Darwish Al-Hariry, learnt to recite the Qur'an with Ismail Succar and also studied the ‘ūd. He started his career as a member of the chorus of the singer Aly Mahmud, and shortly afterwards started to compose religious chants, scoring his first success with some ...

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Samha El-Kholy

( b Cairo, May 6, 1916; d Cairo, May 14, 1993). Egyptian composer . He was educated at a French school in Cairo, the Collège des Frères, obtaining a diploma in commercial studies. There he played clarinet and horn in the school band, and sang in the choir. He also received private violin lessons from the German Joseph Aubervon, but after nine years an accident obliged him to give up the instrument, and he turned to composition. He took lessons in theory and composition with Aubervon, Minato and other European teachers resident in Cairo, and with the Russian Orlovitsky. After leaving school he worked for the Philips recording company. This period (the late 1940s and early 1950s) saw him composing patriotic and love songs for famous singers such as Shādia and Ragā’ ‘Abdū. In ...

Article

Jacques Aboucaya

(b Oran, Algeria, Oct 25, 1961). French pianist and composer. After taking lessons in classical piano he went to the USA to study at the Berklee College of Music (1981–3) and then at the Manhattan School of Music (MM composition). He appeared in the BMI Jazz Composition Workshop under the direction of Bob Brookmeyer (...

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Daniel Avorgbedor

(b Peki-Avetile, Sept 13, 1899; d Peki-Avetile, Jan 1995). Ghanaian composer. After studying the rudiments of music and the harmonium at the Basel Mission Seminary at Kwahu Abetifi, Ghana (1916–19), he received formal lessons in harmony and composition from Emmanuel Allotey-Pappo; a teaching career at Akropong Teacher Training College gave him opportunities to embark on a series of choral works. The existing framework of African identity and personality, as proclaimed by Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president after independence, greatly influenced Amu's attitude and general compositional language in his later years. After being dismissed from the college in Akropong for his overt articulation of African ideas, he moved to Achimota Training College (...

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Saadalla Agha Al-Kalaa

(b al-Qrayya, Syria, Oct 18, 1915; d Beirut, Dec 26, 1974). Syrian singer, composer, ‘ūd player and film actor and producer. In 1924 political circumstances forced his family to move to Egypt. His mother, the noted singer ‘Aliyya al-Munther, taught him singing in the Syrian style. He studied the ...

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(b Kissy (nr Freetown), Sierra Leone, March 14, 1893; d ?Sierra Leone, 1961). African ethnomusicologist and composer. Missionaries changed Ballanta, the grandfather’s African surname, to Taylor. Nicholas George’s father, Gustavus, hyphenated the name, under which the son published. He sang and played the organ at St. Patrick’s Chapel, Kissy, as a youth. In ...

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Daniel Avorgbedor

(b Lagos, 1935; d Lagos, Nov 6, 1976). Nigerian composer. His parents, both music teachers, and the composers Fela Sowande and T.K. Ekundayo Phillips were his early musical influences. He pursued formal studies in composition, the organ and the piano at the GSM (...

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Francis Dhomont

(b Tamatave, Madagascar, April 27, 1932). French composer. He studied in Bordeaux (1946–54), at the Paris Conservatoire, where his teachers included Messiaen (1958–9), and at the Darmstadt summer courses (1960–62) with Stockhausen, among others. In 1960 he joined the Service de la Recherche of ORTF, recently established by Pierre Schaeffer, and took part in the ...

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Gregory F. Barz

(b Douala, Cameroon, July 16, 1929; d Paris, May 28, 2001). Cameroonian composer, writer and musician. He studied mathematics in Douala and continued to study English at the Sorbonne, Paris, and is perhaps best known for his comprehensive guide to African music, first published in French as ...

Article

Jessica Sternfeld

(b Tunis, Tunisia, March 5, 1941). French lyricist. Boublil and composer claude-michel Schönberg are, along with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, largely the driving forces behind the dominance of the megamusical in the musical theater world since the 1980s. Educated in Paris at the Institute of Higher Commercial Studies, Boublil has no formal training in the arts but became interested in radio and writing lyrics. When Boublil saw Lloyd Webber’s and Tim Rice’s ...

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Irene Herrmann

(b Jamaica, NY, Dec 30, 1910; d Tangier, Morocco, Nov 18, 1999). American composer and writer. As a young man he studied with Copland in New York, Berlin and Paris. In 1931 they travelled to Morocco, where he completed his first chamber and solo piano works. He continued his studies with Nadia Boulanger, Roger Sessions, Virgil Thomson and Israel Citkowitz. Further travel to Guatemala, Mexico, Ceylon, southern India and the Sahara enabled him to explore indigenous musical styles which were to influence his own compositions. In ...

Article

Christopher Fifield and R. Allen Lott

(b Dresden, Germany, Jan 8, 1830; d Cairo, Egypt, Feb 12, 1894). German conductor, pianist, and composer. He studied piano with Friedrich Wieck, Max Eberwein, and Louis Plaidy before briefly pursuing a law degree to appease his parents. Under Wagner’s influence he began an operatic conducting career, then in ...

Article

Veit Erlmann

(b Edendale, Nov 14, 1895; d Kwa-Dlangezwa, nr Empangeni, March 5, 1969). South African composer. He was one of the leading black South African composers of the 1920s and 30s, known for his ragtime songs in the Zulu language. Caluza’s early career between ...

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George Leotsakos

(b Heliopolis, Egypt, Jan 8, 1926; d Athens, Jan 8, 1970). Greek composer. The son of a Greek chocolate manufacturer who settled in Egypt, he grew up in the patrician Greek community of cosmopolitan Alexandria. These surroundings – not least the shadow of an ancient civilization obsessed with survival after death – had a deep effect on his creative personality. His education was predominantly in English institutions, giving him a mastery of the language in which he was to write his many unpublished philosophical and musical texts, his diaries and notes on his dreams. After studying at the wartime branch of Victoria College in Alexandria (?...

Article

Beverley A. Brommert

(b Moorreesburg, Western Cape, Nov 17, 1957). South African composer. He studied at the universities of Cape Town (BMus 1980, MMus 1985) and Stellenbosch, Western Cape. His compositions are written in a wide range of genres, including sacred works (Missa brevis I...

Article

Stephen Banfield and Jeremy Dibble

(b London, Aug 15, 1875; d Croydon, Sept 1, 1912). English composer. He was the illegitimate child of Daniel Hugh Taylor, a doctor and native of Sierra Leone, and Alice Hare Martin, an Englishwoman. He grew up in Croydon with his mother after his father returned to Africa. It has been suggested that Samuel may have enjoyed support from a member of the Coleridge family (see Butterworth, ...

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Robert Stevenson

(b Lisbon, Oct 21, 1680; d Paris, Feb 13, 1724). Portuguese composer. Son of Manuel Pereira Coutinho, govenor of Angola (1630–35), he came from a rich and aristocratic family. In deference to his social status, he was usually asked to compose the first villancico in nine published sets of instrumentally accompanied villancicos sung at various Lisbon festivities between ...