(b Algiers, Feb 14, 1941). French pianist, arranger, leader, and musicologist. He discovered jazz following a period of classical piano studies. In 1962 he moved to Paris and performed in amateur bands, and in 1966 he became a professional musician. As house pianist at the Jazz O’Maniac he accompanied Albert Nicholas, Bill Coleman (1971–2), and Benny Waters (1971–3), as well as Benny Carter, Jo Jones, Illinois Jacquet, Buddy Tate, Slam Stewart, Stephane Grappelli, Vic Dickenson, Cat Anderson, and others. From 1976 to 1979 he was co-director, with Marc Richard, of the Anachronic Jazz Band, which aimed to present modern jazz themes with a traditional New Orleans jazz orchestration, as may be heard on Anachronic Jazz Band, i–ii (1976, 1978, Open 02, 09). From 1979 to 1983 he led the Happy Feet Quintet, with which he recorded the album Happy Feet and Friends (...
E. Ron Horton
(b San Francisco, CA, March 17, 1953). American percussionist, composer, and scholar. He is a California-based artist and educator whose world travels and ethnic heritage have had a major influence on his musical career. His mother was a native of Tokyo, Japan, and his father was of African American and Choctaw decent. He grew up in a military family, moving between California, Germany, and Japan during his formative years. His career in music began in earnest after he returned to San Francisco in 1980. In 1985 he moved to New York and further developed his career while studying jazz performance at Rutgers University. He subsequently earned a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, studying ethnomusicology, a field that allowed him to focus on the musical styles that reflected his cultural heritage. He then began an extensive relationship with the Smithsonian Institute working as the curator of American musical culture, director of the Jazz Oral History program, and a performer in the Smithsonian Jazz Trio. In ...
(b Kensington, London, Nov 20, 1766; d Bristol, May 15, 1821). English composer and theorist. Entering music as a largely self-taught amateur, he became a popular glee composer and a respected authority on music theory.
He was the son of a builder, Thomas Callcott, by his second wife, Charlotte Wall, and was educated at a private school by William Young; he was a brilliant student of classics, Hebrew and philosophy. Until he was 13 it was planned that he should become a surgeon, but he was so disgusted by witnessing an operation that he gave up this idea. He had learnt something of music from Henry Whitney, organist of Kensington parish church, and he began to practise the organ seriously while continuing to pursue, untaught, the study of languages and mathematics. He also learnt to play the clarinet and the oboe, and began to compose. In 1782 he became acquainted with Samuel Arnold and Benjamin Cooke, who encouraged him to enter the profession; the next year he became assistant organist of St George’s, Bloomsbury. Through Cooke he was admitted as a ‘supernumerary hautboy’ at the concerts of the Academy of Ancient Music. From this time onwards his efforts in composition were mainly devoted to the glee. His first glee, ...
(b Moose Jaw, Canada, Oct 27, 1918; d Toronto, Jan 16, 1981). Canadian theorist, teacher, and composer. He led dance bands and played trumpet in Toronto (1939–49) before he ended his career as a performer for reasons of health and turned to teaching (1950). He wrote texts on arranging, harmony, counterpoint, 12-tone music, and melody (New York, 1965–76) that became widely used, and he taught many leading jazz musicians in Canada in the 1950s and 1960s. He also composed several works in the third-stream idiom, of which he was an enthusiastic advocate; these include Collage no.3 and Song and Dance, both of which were recorded by Duke Ellington with the Ron Collier Orchestra on Duke Ellington: North of the Border (1967, Decca 75069). His Three Entertainments for Saxophone Quartet (1969) was recorded by the New York Saxophone Quartet. (EMC2...
(b Durrës, Albania, Jan 20, 1914; d Tirana, Albania, March 30, 1977). Albanian folk music researcher and composer. Born into an intellectual family, he studied music in Bucharest (1936) and later Milan (1939) before returning to Albania during World War II. Initially, Dheri was appointed music instructor at the high school in Shkodra, where he organized small ensembles and choral groups following the war. In 1949, he was transferred to the Committee for the Arts and Culture in Tirana and, in 1953, to Radio Tirana. During this period, Dheri contributed to the Radio’s sound archives, collected and transcribed folk pieces, created pedagogical texts, and composed light popular waltzes, tangos, and foxtrots. His primary contribution followed his appointment to the newly formed Institute of Folk Culture in 1968. As an editor and the founding director of the national archives for folk music, Dheri oversaw the publication of early systematic collections including ...
Brenda M. Romero
(b Tlaxiaco, Mexico, Sept 9, 1967). Mexican singer, composer, and anthropologist. She was already well known in Mexico when she emerged in the US mainstream with her performance in the film Frida (2002). Her father was Scottish American and her mother is Mixtec from Oaxaca, thus Downs grew up traveling back and forth between the United States and Mexico and between cultures. She began singing at the age of five and began formal classical voice studies at 14 at Bellas Artes in Oaxaca. She subsequently studied in Los Angeles and at the University of Minnesota, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, focusing on Oaxacan highland textiles. In addition to crediting African American music in general, and female singers and the music of jazz in particular, for showing her the many ways in which the voice can be used as an instrument to articulate a wide palette of expressiveness, she credits a range of musical influences, including the Grateful Dead, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Meredith Monk (especially her extended vocal techniques), Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane. She has conducted most of her work in collaboration with her husband ...
(b San Diego, CA, May 22, 1953). American composer, media artist, performer, and bio-acoustic researcher. After taking violin and viola lessons with Mary Gerard, James Glazebrook, and Howard Hill and pursuing undergraduate studies in music at San Diego State University, Dunn earned the MFA in new media at the Danube University’s Transart Institute in Krems, Austria (2009). He also studied composition with David Ernst, kenneth Gaburo , Norman Lowrey, and Pauline Oliveros, and served as assistant to harry Partch (1970–74), in whose ensemble he performed for a decade. Engaging in both traditional and experimental compositional approaches, Dunn has conceived music for the concert stage, radio, and film, and explored sound art, including sound installations and soundscape recordings. Dunn has also dedicated himself to studies in acoustic ecology and bio-acoustic research. He has taught at the College of Santa Fe and San Diego State University, where he was director of the Electronic Music Studio. He has served as vice-president of the International Synergy Institute in Los Angeles (...
(b Norwich, April 11, 1912). Canadian composer, theorist and conductor of English origin. He moved to Canada in 1928, becoming a Canadian citizen in 1930. His composition teachers have included Alfred Whitehead in Montreal and Paul Hindemith at Yale University (1952–3). He also studied conducting with Willem van Otterloo in Utrecht (1956). From 1946 until his retirement in 1977, he taught at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He also conducted the Queen’s SO (1946–54), and founded and conducted both the Kingston Choral Society (1953–7) and the New SO of Kingston (1954–7).
George’s music is in a 20th-century idiom characterized by traditional formal structures and modal harmonies, and influenced by his studies of ethnomusicology and the structural aspects of music. His operas are large-scale works based on historical events with librettos adapted from contemporary writing. He has also composed many choral pieces....
(b Czernowitz [now Chernovtsy, Ukraine], Oct 26, 1888; d Vienna, Oct 12, 1960). Austrian theatre historian and librettist . He went to Vienna in 1907, studying German, philosophy and musicology (under Guido Adler) at the university and practical music at the academy. In 1908 he became a private pupil of Robert Fuchs and also studied operatic production at the Vienna Hofoper. In 1910 he became Max Reinhardt’s assistant for a production of the second part of Goethe’s Faust at the Deutsche Theater, Berlin. After war service he was appointed librarian at the Austrian National Library, where he founded a theatre archive in 1922 and a film archive in 1929; he initiated studies in theatre history at Vienna University in 1947. During the last years of his life he was accorded many national and international awards.
Although Gregor left important monographs on the history of Vienna’s theatres, on Richard Strauss’s operas and on the broad cultural history of theatre and of opera, he is probably best known as the librettist of Richard Strauss’s ...
Jay W. Junker
(b Honolulu, HI, Aug 4, 1927; d Honolulu, Jan 7, 2017). Hawaiian musician, bandleader, songwriter, and researcher. A leading figure in the late 20th-century revival of Hawaiian culture, Kamae has led the seminal Sons of Hawaii band for over 50 years. He reintroduced a large number of classic Hawaiian songs from earlier eras, composed several standards, and documented important Hawaiian topics on over 1000 hours of film.
He began his career in 1948 performing light classics and pop with Shoi Ikemi as The Ukulele Rascals. Self taught, Kamae developed chord voicings and plucking techniques that expanded the instrument’s reach. In 1959 Kamae met Gabby Pahinui and formed Sons of Hawaii. He radically transformed his style for the group, moving between rhythmic accompaniment and pa‘ani (soloing) in a fluid give and take. He also began singing in a distinctive voice full of Hawaiian vocal inflections. With mentoring from scholar Mary Kawena Pukui and others, Kamae began researching older Hawaiian repertoire and composing. His arrangement of waltzes, such as “Sanoe,” and other songs of the 19th century introduced a classical elegance into the group. At the same time The Sons performed downhome party favorites, like “‘Ama ‘Ama.”...
revised by Benjamin Piekut
(b Chicago, IL, July 14, 1952). American improviser, composer, and scholar. A trombone student of Dean Hey, he attended Yale University, where he majored in philosophy (BA 1974). In 1971, he joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a Chicago-based collective devoted to experimental music. He studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams, a founder of the AACM, and worked closely with many other AACM members. From 1980 to 1982 he was music director of the Kitchen, an avant-garde cultural center in New York. From 1991 to 2003, he taught at the University of California, San Diego, where he co-established the program in Critical Studies/Experimental Practices. He served as the Milhaud Professor of Music at Mills College in 1994. In 2004, he was appointed Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University, where he also served as Director of the Center for Jazz Studies (...
Barbara L. Tischler
(b Louisville, KY, Oct 20, 1877; d Louisville, KY, Feb 24, 1919). American composer and folksong collector. She had no formal training as a composer. At the suggestion of May Stone of the Hindman Settlement School in Knott County (Kentucky), she spent the summer of 1914 in Knott and Letcher counties transcribing folksongs and tracing their origins to English and Scottish ballads. By her own description the people of the area called her “the strange woman huntin’ song-ballets.” She published Folk-songs of the Kentucky Mountains (1917, repr. 1922, 1926, 1937), in which 13 of the 20 songs are traced to precursors in Child’s English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882–98). At a time when many American composers turned to folk music as the source of a distinctive voice, McGill’s activities contributed to the search for an American national music. Among her own compositions are the songs “Duna, when I was a little lad” (...
(b Maillane, Bouches-du-Rhône, Sept 8, 1830; d Maillane, March 25, 1914). Provençal poet and philologist . The son of a prosperous landowner, he devoted his life to the promotion of the cultural values of Provençal. His most famous work is the rural epic Mirèio (1859) which Michel Carré used as the basis for the libretto of the five-act opera (sometimes described as an ‘opéra-dialogué’) Mireille, set by Gounod. This was first performed in 1864 and subsequently remodelled. Calendau (1867) formed the basis of Henri Maréchal’s opera Calendel (libretto by Paul Ferrier), which had its première in Rouen in 1894. Maurice Léna’s libretto for C. M. Widor’s opera Nerto (1924, Paris) was derived from Mistral’s verse-tale of the same name. In 1904, half a century after the foundation of the pro-Provençal ‘félibrige’, the Nobel Prize for literature was awarded jointly to Mistral and the Spanish poet José Echegaray....
(b Paris, 1687; d Paris, Oct 13, 1770). French librettist and historian . He was elected to the Académie Française in 1733 and appointed lecteur to Queen Maria Leszczyńska around 1745. He is best known for Les chats (1727), an elegant and witty history of the cat since ancient Egyptian times. As a librettist Moncrif worked exclusively on a small scale, limiting himself to the opéra-ballet, with its separate entrées, and to the independent acte de ballet. A taste for exoticism, first explored in his ‘contes indiens’ Les avantures de Zéloïde et d’Amanzarifdine (1715), is also evident in the librettos. One entrée of L’empire de l’Amour (‘Les génies du feu’) inhabits the enchanted world of Middle Eastern mythology, still a fairly unusual choice in 1733 but soon to become fashionable; his subsequent librettos, notably Zélindor, roi des silphes and Les génies tutélaires, mainly adopt Arabian or Asiatic settings. Most were moderately successful; ...
Laura Otilia Vasiliu
(b Reuseni, Suceava county, Romania, May 2, 1944). Romanian composer, musicologist, and teacher . Rooted in the folklore of Bukovina and in Byzantine liturgical music, furthering the musical environment of his predecessors Ciprian Porumbescu and George Enescu, his works stand at the crossroads of tradition and modernity, having become established through their authentic expression and mastery of form. His personality has been influential in the musical life of Iaşi and the George Enescu University of Arts, which he served as a professor, dean, and rector.
He studied at the George Enescu Conservatory in Iaşi. He graduated in pedagogy and composition under Vasile Spătărelu. He attended composition classes led by Ştefan Niculescu, Aurel Stroe, and Anatol Vieru at the Vacanţele muzicale de la Piatra Neamt (‘Musical Holidays of Piatra Neamţ’, 1972–80), and then he studied with Roman Vlad at the Santa Cecilia Academy in Rome (1980). Up until ...
(b Ottawa, Sept 7, 1892; d Montreal, Sept 20, 1958). Canadian composer and folklorist . He studied the piano and the organ in Ottawa with Amédée Tremblay and piano in Montreal with Alfred Laliberté. From 1915 he collaborated with Charles Marchand on collecting and arranging folksongs, and he was also active as a teacher, orchestral pianist and accompanist. From 1927 to 1930 he took part in the festivals commissioned by the Canadian Pacific Railway and became their joint musical director with Harold E. Key in 1930; it was for these that his ballad operas, based on Canadian folklore and including many folksongs, were written. His operetta Philippino was broadcast in 1943. O’Brien became a priest in 1952.
ballad operas unless otherwise stated
Jane W. Stedman
(b London, Feb 27, 1796; d London, May 29, 1880). English dramatist, librettist, antiquarian and costume authority . He brought his scholarly knowledge of costume to bear on his stage designs, and was the first to perceive that comedy might arise from ancient Greeks in authentic chitons behaving like Victorians. His first play, a ‘serio-comic, bombastic, and operatic interlude’, was Amoroso, King of Little Britain (1818); his first serious play was The Vampire, or The Bride of the Isles (1820). After much rapid hackwork Planché went to Covent Garden, where he began to reform the unhistorical costuming of Shakespeare’s plays; he also collaborated with Henry Bishop on ‘English operas’ (dramas with music). In 1826 he wrote a diffuse libretto for Weber’s romantic opera Oberon, or The Elf King’s Oath, the plot based on C. M. Wieland’s poem, the words heavily influenced by Shakespeare. This latter quality led Weber to expostulate gently that music needed dramatic situations rather than poetic imagery. In spite of a successful première, the libretto was criticized for lacking human interest, a charge Planché felt keenly. In ...
William Kirk Bares
(b Sharon, CT, Nov 17, 1935; d Kerhonkson, NY, Dec 21, 2017). American trombonist, ethnomusicologist, and composer. A well-regarded jazz soloist, he is perhaps best known as a musical collaborator with ecumenical tastes. Strongly influenced by New Orleans jazz at a young age and seasoned by work in traditional jazz bands as a student at Yale, he transitioned easily to the collective free improvisation scenes of 1960s and 70s New York. Early partners included Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Steve Lacy, Sheila Jordan, Enrico Rava, Carla Bley, John Tchicai, and Milford Graves; he worked with the last two in the New York Art Quartet. The open spirit of his early work is preserved on Archie Shepp’s Four for Trane (1964, Imp.), to which he contributed adventurous arrangements, and his own eclectic Blown Bone (1976, Phillips), which features several of the above artists.
Rudd’s subsequent collaborations extended his longtime interest in non-Western music. He carried out research for Alan Lomax’s cantometrics project (from the early 1980s) and taught ethnomusicology at Bard College (...
revised by Barry Kernfeld
[William; Wagner, Russell William]
(b Canton, MO, Feb 26, 1905; d New Orleans, Aug 9, 1992). American jazz historian, record producer, violinist, and composer. He played violin from the age of ten, and later studied music in Chicago (1924). After private violin tuition in New York (1927) he attended Columbia University Teachers College (1929), where he took up composition; around 1930 he dropped his surname, Wagner, to avoid comparisons with a rather more famous composer in the field. While touring with a theatrical group, the Red Gate Shadow Players, which staged classical Chinese puppet plays (1934–40), he began collecting early jazz records, reselling many through the Hot Record Exchange that he ran from 1935 with the painter Steve Smith. He contributed articles to the magazine Jazz hot and wrote three chapters of Jazzmen: the Story of Hot Jazz Told in the Lives of the Men who Created it...
James G. Roy Jr
revised by Carman Moore and J. Bradford Robinson
(b Cincinnati, June 23, 1923; d Boston, July 27, 2009). American jazz composer and theorist. He played the drums in local clubs while a student at Wilberforce University High School. During a long illness in 1945–6 he formulated the basis of his ‘Lydian concept’, a system of composition based on grading intervals by the distance of their pitches from a central note. After his recovery he wrote scores for Dizzy Gillespie, including Cubana Be/Cubana Bop (one of the earliest works to combine jazz and Latin influences), and for Buddy DeFranco (A Bird in Igor’s Yard) and Lee Konitz (Ezz-thetic and Odjenar); meanwhile he also studied composition with Stefan Wolpe. From 1950 he consolidated and refined his ideas on music theory, publishing them as The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization (1953, 2/1959), which was immediately received as the first major contribution by a jazz musician to the field of music theory. Works followed on an increasingly large scale, establishing Russell, along with Gil Evans, as a leading postwar jazz composer; he combined advanced jazz idioms with an unusually rigorous concern for structure, harmony, and the balance between composition and improvisation. In ...