(b Philadelphia, PA, July 19, 1843; d Philadelphia, PA, 1918). American pianist, singer, educator, and composer. He studied music with his father Thomas à Becket Sr. (b 17 March 1808; d 6 Jan 1890) and in Philadelphia public schools. The father, a music teacher, actor and composer, wrote Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean. In 1855 Thomas à Becket Jr. performed at the Walnut Street Theatre in a work written by his father. He developed into one of the finest, most sought after accompanists in the city, joining with leading artists and singing groups. Member and president of the Mendelssohn Club, he sang in a series of 35 light operas produced at the Amateur Drawing Room (1868–72) and accompanied the Orpheus Club (1877–98). An important educator, from 1873 until he died à Becket taught and played the organ at Girard College, a residential school for orphaned boys. À Becket became a member of a group of professional musicians who evaluated music teaching methods in the Philadelphia Public Schools. À Becket family archives at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts include diaries (...
Martha Furman Schleifer
John R. Gardner
( b London, 1817; d London, Dec 11, 1863). English composer . She was the eldest daughter of Joseph Glossop, a friend of George IV; she married Gilbert Abbott A’Beckett, a magistrate and humorous writer. Apart from a dozen songs and two waltzes for piano, A’Beckett composed three operas: The Young Pretender...
(b Oss, March 10, 1970). Dutch composer. He trained first as a recording engineer at The Hague Royal Conservatory, taking additional lessons in classical guitar with Antonio Pereira Arias, then went on to study composition with Andriessen family, §3, Gilius van Bergeijk and Diderik Wagenaar He quickly gained prominence as a composer of works for soloist and/or ensemble with soundtrack, combining economy of material with discontinuous structures and a theatrical component. In 2002, Van der Aa studied film direction at the New York Film Academy. Starting with the chamber opera One for soprano, video and soundtrack (2002), he has since expanded his activities to include script writing, filmmaking and stage directing. He has received the International Gaudeamus Prize (1999), the Matthijs Vermeulen prize (2004), the Charlotte Köhler Prize (2005), the Siemens Composers Grant (2005) and the Paul Hindemith Prize (...
revised by Ole Kongsted
[Sistinus, Theodoricus; Malmogiensis, Trudo Haggaei]
(fl 1593–1625). Danish composer and organist. He was appointed organist of Vor Frue Kirke (now the cathedral), Copenhagen, on 23 June 1593 after having ‘pursued and learnt his art during a long period both in Germany and Italy’. He received a number of preferments, such as the free residence formerly set aside for the palace preacher, awarded to him in 1603. He was also on at least two occasions sent on commissions for the king, once to Prague (1600). He published under his latinized name Theodoricus Sistinus a set of secular Cantiones for three voices (Hamburg, 1608; ed. in Dania sonans, ii, 1966), his only known published music. The publication is dedicated to King Christian IV of Denmark, and it may be assumed that it won his approval, for during the period 1609–11 he received payments from the royal treasury in addition to his salary as organist, perhaps for teaching at the court. As early as ...
Bonnie J. Blackburn
(b Florence, c1480; d after 1545). Italian theorist and composer. Nothing is known of Aaron’s early training, his teacher, or his career before 1516. He claims to have had ‘the greatest friendship and familiarity’ with Josquin, Obrecht, Isaac, and Agricola in Florence (most likely between 1487 and 1495, and not necessarily at the same time). By 1516 he was a priest in Imola, where he wrote his first book, Libri tres de institutione harmonica, translated into Latin by the humanist Giovanni Antonio Flaminio. A contemporary poem by Achille Bocchi praises Aaron for rescuing music ‘from squalor and dismal neglect’. By March 1520 he was a singer in Imola Cathedral and from the next year a chaplain; he was also paid by the city to teach music to those who wished to learn. His career in Imola ended abruptly in June 1522 when he was wounded in a factional uprising and his chapel in the cathedral destroyed (Blackburn, forthcoming). By ...
revised by Gary R. Boye
(b Bitonto, nr Bari; d after 1651). Italian composer and guitarist. He is known by four books of pieces for five-course Baroque guitar. They consist mainly of simple battute accompaniments to popular songs and dances of the early 17th century such as the passacaglia, ciaccona, folia, Ruggiero and aria di Fiorenza. The accompaniments are set down in the alphabet system of chord notation (alfabeto) devised by Girolamo Montesardo, in which letters of the alphabet designate fingering positions for various major and minor chords. Each of Abatessa’s books contains instructions concerning the interpretation of the alphabet tablature, the fingering of the chords and the tuning of the guitar; the 1652 book also explains how to tune the guitar with the harp, presumably for the simultaneous playing of continuo parts. The 1627 collection gives instructions regarding the execution of certain kinds of strum such as the trillo and ...
Giovanni Carli Ballola
revised by Roberta Montemorra Marvin
(b Alessandria, March 20, 1851; d Alessandria, May 2, 1894). Italian organist and composer. He began his musical studies with his stepfather, Pietro Cornaglia. From 1868 to 1871 he attended the Milan Conservatory, studying the piano with Antonio Angeleri and composition with Lauro Rossi and Mazzucato. His graduation exercise, the cantata Caino e Abele, won the first prize and a medal of honour. He toured abroad as a concert pianist, but from 1880 until his death was organist at the cathedral in Alessandria, where he also founded a school of composition, singing and piano, and conducted concerts for the Associazione filarmonica alessandrina. He composed three operas, Isabella Spinola (1877, Milan), Maria di Warden (1884, Venice) and Una partita a scacchi (1892, Pavia), the latter based on Giuseppe Giacosa's popular comedy. In these works, which did not have much success, Abbà Cornaglia remained uninfluenced by the innovatory tendencies of the ‘Scapigliatura’ and of Catalani and by the new ...
(b Città di Castello, Jan 26, 1595; d Città di Castello, ? after March 15, 1679). Italian composer and teacher. He travelled to Rome with his brother Guidobaldo, an artist, in 1623 and 1625 (Andrae, 17–19), and was employed at S Giovanni in Laterano from January 1627 to May 1629. According to his verse autobiography (in I-Rvat ) he served there ‘seven years and some months’, or from 1622, but neither this nor his statement that he held earlier positions in Città di Castello and at the Gesù in Rome have been confirmed. He subsequently served as maestro di cappella at the cathedrals of Città di Castello (June 1629 to May 1632, December 1635 to November 1640 and May 1677 to March 1679) and Orvieto (December 1632 to 1635). In Rome his principal tenures were at S Maria Maggiore, where he trained boy sopranos (...
(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 ‘ud (lute). His acquaintance with the poet Aḥmad Shawqī helped him socially, and his settings of Shawqī are classics of the genre. Chosen by Sayyid Darwīsh to perform in his operetta Al-barouka (or La mascotte), ‘Abd al-Wahhāb some years later completed Darwīsh's posthumous Cleopatra, though he composed no original music for the theatre. However, he played in many musical films, performing his own songs. Among the awards he received are the Order of Merit and the State Prize for the Arts....
(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 (1950–52) and composition at the Freiburg Hochschule with Harald Genzmer (1952–7). After graduation he returned to Egypt, where he taught at the newly founded Cairo Conservatory. In 1971 he was appointed professor of composition there, and he proceeded to establish the first composition department in the Arab world, teaching several Egyptian and Arab composers (including Daoud, Ghoneim, Salama and Al-Saedi) until his retirement in 1986. In 1987 he left for the University of South Florida, in Tampa, Florida, where he lived and taught until his death during a visit to Germany....
Lucrecia R. Kasilag
(b Santa Cruz, Manila, May 14, 1876; d Manila, April 23, 1944). Filipino composer, conductor and violin teacher. At an early age he studied solfège, composition, conducting and the violin with Ladislao Bonus. He played the violin in the Rizal Orchestra in his youth, and in 1910 he founded the Oriental Orchestra; in the early 1920s he conducted many zarzuelas and operas. He was the moving spirit behind the Manila Chamber Music Society, of which he became director in 1921. A well-known violin teacher, he also excelled as a nationalist composer. Among his works are the zarzuelas Ang sampaguita (‘The Sampaguita Flower’), Anak ng dagat (‘Son of the Sea’), Luha’t dugo (‘Tears and Blood’), Ang masamang kaugalian (‘The Bad Traits’), Delinquente and Declaracion de amor. Other compositions include a cantata, O! dios sa kalangitan (‘O God in Heaven’), Ibong adarna (‘The Adarna Bird’), a coloratura song, and Kundiman...
Lisa A. Urkevich
[Muḥammed ‘Abdu ‘Othmān Marzuq al-Dehel al-‘Asīrī]
(b Jizan, Saudi Arabia, 1949). Saudi singer, composer and ‘ūd (lute) player. His father was a well-known sailor who died when Muḥammed was two years old. Muḥammed began singing at the age of six, and at nine he received his first vocal training through the study of Qur'anic recitation, which, along with the call to prayer (adhān), he offered at school events. About the age of 13 he became involved with amateur traditional singers and learnt to play the ‘ūd. Because of his close proximity to Yemen, he encountered master musicians of the al-yamānī style. He gained a diploma in shipbuilding and was offered a scholarship to study in Japan, but declined the offer, preferring to become a professional musician. His first recognized composition was Hala yā bū sha'ar tha'ir (1965). He went on to record over 80 albums in a variety of styles, including popular Egyptian styles, but he has been most appreciated for his folkloric, traditional Saudi and Gulf pieces. He gained an international reputation and has often been called ‘...
J. Michele Edwards
(b Tokyo, April 18, 1937). Japanese marimba player and composer. After xylophone study with Eiichi Asabuki (1950–59), she earned two degrees from Tokyo Gakugei University, studying composition with Shosuke Ariga and Toshio Kashiwagi as well as percussion with Masao Imamura and Yusuke Oyake. An active professional performer since 1960, she has toured extensively in Europe, North America and Asia with annual recital tours since 1981. Through development of new technical skills and by expanding the repertory with over 70 commissions, she has contributed significantly to the status of marimba music, for which she was honoured by induction into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1993. After a decade of studio work and orchestral playing, she studied the performances of jazz artists such as Milt Jackson and Lionel Hampton in order to develop her own personal style of improvisation as a creative source for composition. Technically challenging yet idiomatic for the marimba, her works generally begin with improvisation and are later notated. Her compositions include wide dynamic ranges, techniques borrowed from folk music traditions and careful voicing of chords. Using four- and sometimes six-mallet technique, she often combines a melodic line with an impressionistic background of rhythmic patterns. Her performances of her compositions and those of other Japanese composers have been very influential on developments in the USA, especially since ...
revised by John D. Drake and Stephan Hörner
(b Bayreuth, Feb 20, 1761; d Stuttgart, March 2, 1838). German composer, pianist and organist. In 1771 he became a pupil of A. Boroni at the Hohe Karlsschule in Stuttgart, where in 1782 he joined the private band of the Duke of Württemberg as a harpsichordist. On Zumsteeg's death in 1802 he succeeded him as Konzertmeister, and took over the direction of the ensemble until the appointment of J.F. Kranz. By 1815 he held the position of organist at court and director of the official music. In 1832, having completed 50 years' service with the court, he was given a gold medal and a pension.
Most of Abeille's compositions date from the first 30 years of his service at Stuttgart. Besides two sonatas for keyboard with accompanying violin (1783), his published instrumental works include sonatas and other pieces for both piano solo and piano duet, a piano trio, a piano concerto and a concerto for piano duet, which was favourably mentioned by Gerber (...
(b Salon-de-Provence, bap. Feb 24, 1674; d after 1733). French composer. He was the son of Jean Abeille, a royal notary, and may have been a choirboy at the collegiate church of St Laurent in Salon-de-Provence. From 1699 to 1700 he was maître de chapelle of the primate’s church of St Trophime, Arles; from 31 March 1713 until 17 October 1713, when he was succeeded by François Pétouille, he was vicaire de choeur and maître de musique at the royal parish church of St Germain-l’Auxerrois in Paris. No further details of his life are known.
His most important compositions were two volumes of the Psalms of David translated into French by Antoine Godeau, Bishop of Vence, dedicated to Mme de Maintenon and intended for the use of the young ladies at St Cyr. The 150 psalms are set with considerable skill and variety: the earlier ones are short and simple, but the later ones, in three parts alternating with ...
Lucrecia R. Kasilag
(b Tagoloan, Oriental Misamis, July 13, 1922; d Fresno, CA, June 5, 1991). Filipina composer and conductor. She studied music at Lourdes College, the piano at St Scholastica’s College and composition at the Philippine Women’s University (MM 1957). Later she attended the Labunski School of Composition in Ohio, the Eastman School and the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC. A nun of the Order of the Virgin Mary, she taught music theory and composition, conducted fund-raising concerts, and travelled widely to take part in international music conferences. In 1977 she moved to the USA, teaching at Kansas University and St Pius Seminary in Kentucky before moving to Fremont, California; in 1980 she was elected president of the Philippine Foundation of Performing Arts in America. Among the honours she received were the Republic Culture Heritage Award (1967) and the Philippines’ Independence Day Award (1973). She produced over 300 compositions and some published music textbooks. Her style is marked by neo-classical and Impressionist features, with quartal harmonies, added-note chords, pentatonic and modal scales....
(b Le Pallet, nr Nantes, 1079; d Saint-Marcel, nr Chalon-sur-Saône, April 21, 1142). French philosopher, poet and musician of Breton origin. After studying philosophy in Paris, he taught dialectic at the cathedral school. His love affair with Heloise, the young niece of Canon Fulbert, brought him fame as a musician. However, after they had secretly married in 1118 Fulbert had Abelard castrated. Heloise became a nun and he became a monk at St Denis. His highly original scholastic method and his restless and blunt nature aroused opposition to his teaching; principal among his opponents was Bernard of Clairvaux. After condemnation by the Council of Sens in 1140, Abelard found support from Peter the Venerable, Benedictine Abbot of Cluny.
Abelard’s songs are few beside his numerous theological and philosophical writings. Heloise’s testimony suggests that his love songs must have been important from both a literary and a musical point of view. In a later letter (probably revised by Abelard) she declared that he had ‘the gift of poetry and the gift of song’; he ‘composed quite a number of metrical and rhythmic love songs. The great charm and sweetness in language and music, and a soft attractiveness of the melody obliged even the unlettered’. These songs, presumably in Latin, have all been lost: they have not been identified among the anonymous repertory....
Lucrecia R. Kasilag
(b San Miguel, Bulacan, Feb 7, 1893; d Manila, March 21, 1934). Filipino composer, conductor and teacher. As a child he had violin lessons from his father, and in 1901 he wrote his first composition, Ang unang buko (‘The First Fruit’), a waltz. He was sent to study at the Liceo de Manila and he learnt to play the piano, but at the same time he had to take various jobs to support himself and his family. In 1916 he entered the Conservatory of the University of the Philippines, and in the next year he composed a march, U. P. Beloved, which won first prize in an open competition. He studied with Victoriano Carreon (singing), José Silos (bandurria), Bonifacio Abdon (violin) and José Estella (piano); he received a teacher’s certificate at the conservatory in 1921, and in 1923 he pursued postgraduate studies there.
The piano concerto, which he wrote for these later courses, was the first concerto written by a Filipino. From the same period are ...
(b Vilnius, Jan 6, 1912; d Minsk, Dec 8, 1985). Belarusian composer. He studied at the Warsaw Conservatory (1935–9), with Kazimierz Sikorski for composition and Drzewiecki for piano, and then at the National Conservatory in Minsk, where he graduated from Zolotaryov’s composition class in 1941. He received the title Honoured Artist of the Belarusian SSR in 1963. The works he produced in the late 1940s and 1950s are conservative, but his First Symphony (1962) reflected a renewal in Belarusian music, under the influence of Shostakovich. In the later symphonies there is an increase in confrontation to the point of expressionism, and tragi-grotesque themes come to play a major role, though the Fourth Symphony has elements of neoclassicism that became characteristic of Abeliyovich’s music in the 1970s. His two books of Freski (‘Frescoes’) for piano, in an impressionist manner, are Belarusian classics, while his songs range from dramatic wartime ballads to Tyutchev settings remarkable for their emotional poise and psychological depth....
(b Aberdeenshire, 1653; d ?Cambridge, after 1716). Scottish countertenor, composer and lutenist. The first occurrence of his name in official records is on 1 May 1679, when he was admitted ‘extraordinary’ then ‘in ordinary’ to the Chapel Royal. From the same time he is listed among the musicians of the King’s Private Musick as one of the lutes and voices and also as a violinist, though the latter post was probably a sinecure. Between 1679 and 1688 he received considerable sums of ‘bounty money’ for undisclosed services to the king while travelling abroad. Evelyn recorded (27 January 1682):
After supper came in the famous Trebble, Mr Abel, newly returnd from Italy, & indeed I never heard a more excellent voice, one would have sworne it had been a Womans it was so high, & so well & skillfully manag’d.
He graduated MusB at Cambridge in 1684...