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James Chute

(b Kenosha, WI, 19 Oct 1948). American composer.

He earned the BA in English literature (1970) and the MA in Italian literature (1972) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, before studying composition with Les Thimmig and electronic music with Bert Levy, receiving the MM in composition, also from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1974. He spent the summers of 1974 and 1975 studying with Mario Davidovsky at the Composers’ Conference (Johnson, Vermont) and studied with Robert Morris, Krzysztof Penderecki, Toru Takemitsu, and Yehudi Wyner at Yale University (MMA 1976, DMA 1980). In 1977 he joined the faculty at Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, New York), where he was the first recipient of the William Schuman Chair in Music. His many awards include the Rome Prize (1976–7), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1979–80), the Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (...


Ryan Hugh Ross

(b Vienna, March 11, 1897; d New York, June 12, 1995) Austrian-born composer, conductor, pianist, and repetiteur.

Burger began formal music studies in 1916 at of the University of Vienna, attending lectures by Guido Adler and Egon Wellesz. The following year he enrolled at the Imperial Academy of Music and the Performing Arts where he studied composition with Franz Schreker. In 1919, he left Vienna to study composition with Engelbert Humperdinck in Berlin. Upon Schreker’s appointment as director of the Hochschule für Musik Berlin in 1920, Burger returned to his former tutor’s studio. While enrolled, Burger also studied conducting (1921–2) and was employed as accompanist to the tenor Leo Slezak until gaining his diploma in 1922.

Burger served as repetiteur for the Karlsruhe Opera in 1922–3, and in 1924–7 at the recommendation of Bruno Walter he assisted Artur Bodanzky at the Metropolitan Opera. He served as accompanist to Contralto ...


Mark Anthony Neal


(b Memphis, TN, 25 March 1942). American soul singer, pianist, and songwriter.

Franklin was the second youngest of four children born to her mother Barbara Siggers and Rev. C.L. Franklin. As a toddler Franklin and her family moved to Buffalo, New York, and later settled in Detroit, Michigan, when she was four. Franklin’s father was a prominent preacher and Civil Rights activist who became known nationally through his recorded sermons. In her youth Franklin sang and played piano in her father’s church and often toured with him. Franklin’s musical gifts developed quickly through exposure to her father’s circle of acquaintances, including singers such as Dinah Washington, Clara Ward, Sam Cooke, Mahalia Jackson, and a young James Cleveland, who lived with the Franklin family for a period of time. She recorded her first album in 1956 under the title Songs of Faith. As a vocalist Franklin was profoundly influenced by Ward and Washington....


J. R. Taylor


(b Duquesne, PA, 28 Dec 1903; d Oakland, CA, 22 April 1983). American jazz pianist and bandleader.

He was one of the most influential pianists of the pre-World War II period, and his Chicago-based Grand Terrace Orchestra one of the most popular black bands that worked outside of New York.

Hines grew up in a lower middle-class home in Duquesne, Pennsylvania (now a suburb of Pittsburgh). Trained primarily in the Western classical tradition by local teachers, in his teens he made his way to Pittsburgh’s black Hill District, where he was exposed to popular music and early jazz and crossed paths with such piano luminaries as Luckey Roberts, James P. Johnson, Willie “the Lion” Smith, and Eubie Blake. In 1921 the classical and popular vocalist Lois Deppe hired Hines as his accompanist, and the two worked together steadily for the next three years, both as a duo and in Deppe’s Serenaders, a nine-piece ensemble with which Hines made his first recordings in ...


Brian Thompson


(b Ste Théodosie de Verchères [now Calixa-Lavallée], QC, 28 Dec 1842; d Boston, MA, 21 Jan 1891). French-Canadian composer, pianist, and educator.

Lavallée received his early training from his father, Augustin Pâquet dit Lavallée, an instrument builder and bandmaster, and French immigrants Paul Letondal and Charles Sabatier. In 1859 he was engaged as a musician with the New Orleans Burlesque Opera Company and spent much of the next 12 years as music director of this and other touring troupes.

During the Civil War years, Lavallée enlisted as a member of the band of the 4th Rhode Island regiment. After being mustered out of service in the autumn of 1862, he resumed his career as music director. In 1864–5 he resided in Montreal, performing and writing criticism, then resumed touring. In 1870, he became music director for the New York-based San Francisco Minstrels. He finally abandoned minstrelsy in 1872...


Paul Griffiths

(b Framingham, MA, 30 March 1935). American composer and performer, particularly of live-electronic music.

He attended the School of Music (1952–3) and Institute of Science and Technology (1959–62) of the University of Michigan and studied composition, piano, and horn privately. As a composer and performer he cofounded and worked with the Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music in Ann Arbor (1958–66) and the ONCE Group (1960–68). Mumma also collaborated with Milton Cohen’s Space Theater in Ann Arbor (1957–64) and in New York with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (1966–74) and the Sonic Arts Union (from 1966). With these ensembles and as a soloist, he toured widely in the Americas, Europe, and Japan. From 1973 to 1994 he taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz; he has also held numerous visiting lectureships, including Visiting Professor at the University of California, San Diego (...


Paul Griffiths


(b New York, NY, 3 Oct 1936). American composer.

One of the first masters of the repetitive music that emerged in New York in the mid-1960s and was soon branded “minimalism,” he has consistently broadened and developed his musical world without compromising the streamlined efficiency and precision of his technique. Repetitive, pulse-driven figures have remained a characteristic, but so have the slips and leaps of a lively mind.

Following the divorce of his parents, Reich’s childhood was divided between New York and California, involving him in long rail journeys which he recalled much later in Different Trains. Boyhood piano lessons left little impression; his musical life took off when, at the age of 14, he began studying drumming with Roland Kohloff. At Cornell University (1953–7) his principal study was philosophy, but he also attended William W. Austin’s music course, where he found a congenial view of the subject that jumped from Bach to the 20th century. On returning to New York he devoted himself to composition studies, first privately with ...


Leonora Saavedra

(b Santiago Papasquiaro, Durango, 31 Dec 1899; d Mexico City, Mexico, 5 Oct 1940). Mexican composer, conductor, and violinist.

Sent in 1913 to Mexico City, Revueltas studied with José Rocabruna and Rafael J. Tello at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música. In 1917–18 he studied at Saint Edwards Academy in San Antonio, mentored by Father Louis Gazagne. He studied under Leon Sametini and Felix Borowski at the Chicago Musical College, and graduated in 1919 with a Diploma in Violin, Harmony, and Composition.

A very accomplished violinist, Revueltas sought to establish a professional life as a performer and conductor in the 1920s, moving back and forth between Mexico (1920–21, 1925–6) and the United States (Chicago 1921–3, winter 1924, San Antonio and Mobile 1926–8). He performed solo recitals and in chamber ensembles throughout Mexico and in Texas; and in 1925 participated in Carlos Chávez’s Música Nueva concerts, a pioneering modern music series. In the United States Revueltas found steady work as concertmaster of silent movie orchestras in the Aztec and Texas Theatres in San Antonio and the Saenger Theatre in Mobile. In ...


Michael Meckna

revised by Richard Bernas

[Empress of the Blues]

(b Chattanooga, TN, 15 April 1894; d Clarksdale, MS, 26 Sept 1937). American blues, jazz, and vaudeville singer.

She began her professional career in 1912, leaving home as a dancer in a show whose singer was a budding Ma Rainey. She subsequently performed as a singer with touring shows, using Atlanta’s 81 Theatre as her base. She was performing and living in Philadelphia in 1922, when Columbia Records brought her to New York and launched her recording career with her rendition of Alberta Hunter’s “Downhearted Blues.” Record sales and sold-out theater tours soon established Smith as the most successful black performing artist of her day. Her tent show toured extensively throughout the South, traveling in its own railroad car, and she headlined elaborate vaudeville productions on the T.O.B.A. theater circuit. She had recorded about 200 selections for Columbia by 1931, when a depressed economy and changing public taste severely hit the recording industry; her contract was not renewed. In ...


(c1230–1318). Spanish theorist, poet, historian, and linguist. A Franciscan, lector at Zamora and tutor to Don Sancho, the son of Alfonso el Sabio, he appears to have served one or both of them as a secretary. His Liber de preconiis Hispanie (c1278), dedicated to Sancho, is a brief history of Spain. The Officium Almifluae Virginis (c1278), dedicated to Alfonso X, and Liber Mariae have been identified as sources for no fewer than 50 songs in the Cantigas de Santa Maria. Historia naturalis, Dictaminis Epithalamium, and Ars musica are the works most closely tied to his career as a Franciscan and bear the marks of a university education, which he may have received in Paris as early as the late 1240s.

Ars musica was composed on commission for the minister general of the order, whom Juan Gil identifies only as ‘Johannes’. The identity of this Johannes has been the subject of debate, but evidence points to the likelihood that ...