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Matthew Oltman

(Xaver)

(b Pursruck [Oberfalz], Sept 1, 1906; d Munich, Oct 2, 2001). German composer, conductor, and recording engineer. At the Munich Hochschule, Biebl studied composition with Joseph Haas and Siegmund von Hausegger, conducting with Heinrich Knappe, and Catholic church music with Ludwig Berberich. He taught at the Mozarteum before being drafted into military service in 1943 and spent two years as an American prisoner of war at Fort Custer (1944–6) where he developed an appreciation for American folk songs and spirituals. After the war, Biebl directed a church choir and worked as a recording engineer for Bavarian Broadcasting where he helped facilitate choral programming. He was an advocate of amateur choral singing and composed over 2000 arrangements and original songs, many of which remain popular among German singing societies.

Biebl is best known for his Ave Maria (Angelus Domini). Originally written for double male chorus, it received its première in Munich on ...

Article

James Chute

(b Denver, 7 Dec 1947; d Green Valley, CA, 5 Dec 2005). Composer and conductor. He studied conducting with Antonia Brico, whose tutelage and encouragement was a decisive influence. While still in high school in Denver, where he was a jazz drummer, he played timpani in her community orchestra and she introduced him to the music of the great composers of the 18th and 19th centuries. He attended Yale University (BA 1969), where he encountered the work of Anton Webern, whose influence was also significant. At Yale, he co-founded the experimental ensemble Not Morton Baby with his brother Martin Mosko and Burr Van Nostrand and studied conducting with Gustave Meier and composition with Donald Martino and Mel Powell. When Powell left Yale to become founding dean of the department of music at the California Institute of the Arts in 1970, Mosko followed him to CalArts, where he studied with Powell, ...

Article

Warren M. Sherk

(b Pittsburgh, 29 June 1870; d Los Angeles, 23 Jan 1926). American composer, conductor, arranger, and singer. Largely self-taught, his fondness for the theater as a teenager led him to compose an operetta and to a career composing dramatic music. Educated at Pittsburgh Catholic College, he spent two years in Leipzig studying music theory with Reinecke and vocal music with Ewald. Returning to Pittsburgh in 1891, he began teaching voice, singing at St. Paul’s Cathedral, and writing vocal music. He founded the East End Musical Club, a vocal ensemble he also conducted. By 1900 he was settled in New York writing sacred music and art songs, and from 1903 to 1909 employed as an editor and arranger at major music publishers. He gained nationwide exposure as a composer in 1909 with his incidental music for a play, The Climax, which included the expressive “Song of the Soul.” Concert performances of his vocal music ensued....

Article

Daniel Goldmark

(b Minneapolis, MN, 28 March, 1941). Composer for television, conductor, arranger, and orchestrator. Clausen grew up in Jamestown, ND, where he took up French horn and piano, as well as singing in school choirs. He attended North Dakota State University studying mechanical engineering before a summer in New York City, before being exposed to first-run Broadway musicals and other professional musical settings convinced him he should pursue music instead. He took up string bass and baritone sax and graduated with a degree in music in 1963, followed by a masters degree at Berklee College of Music.

After moving to southern California, his first high-profile professional gig was as an arranger for the second season of The Donny and Marie Show, and eventually conductor and music director for the show’s third season. He moved away from variety and into scripted drama with his work on Moonlighting; during this time he also scored the comedy series ...

Article

Donna Arnold

(b Makaryev, Kostroma Province, Russia, 20 March/1 April 1896; d Lakewood, NJ, 9 Oct 1985). Russian émigré choral conductor, founder of the Don Cossack Choir. He studied at Moscow’s Synodal School of Church Singing, and afterwards joined a Don Cossack regiment in the Russian Civil War. Defeated by Bolsheviks and exiled from Russia in 1920, his regiment was interned at a miserable camp near Istanbul. Ordered to found a choir to raise morale, he arranged repertoire from memory and, remarkably, transformed 36 amateur singers into a world-class ensemble. Once liberated, the Don Cossack Choir began a high-profile international career that spanned six decades.

Its concerts, sung in Russian, comprised Russian Orthodox liturgical works and folk, traditional, and soldier songs. Jaroff arranged most of the music. Conducting with minimal hand movements and penetrating facial expressions, he evoked extremely expressive rubatos and dynamic changes that enthralled audiences. The Don Cossacks were particularly renowned for their brilliant technique and superb octavists (whose vocal range extended to an octave below the bass) and falsettists. Jaroff’s unusual inclusion of falsettists was crucial to the choir’s compelling signature sonority and made mixed-choir masterpieces from the Russian canon feasible. Extra-musical factors, especially the very short Jaroff’s strict control of his Cossack giants, fascinated and delighted their fans....

Article

Claire Levy

(b Sofia, 8 Dec 1934; d Sofia, 12 July 2008). Bulgarian conductor, composer, pianist, and arranger, of Armenian origins, remembered for his prominent role as a musician and public figure in the development of popular music in Bulgaria. He graduated from the Technical University in Sofia (1957) and studied in the Faculty of Theory at the Bulgarian State Conservatory. In 1953 he joined the band Jazz of the Young. By the end of the 1950s he played the piano also at the Satiric Theatre Orchestra and founded Studio 5, a band famous for its supportive role in promoting young singers. Following a similar purpose, later on he initiated Trombata na Vili (‘The Horn of Vili’), a radio contest for discovering new talented pop singers. Since 1960 Kazassian’s music activities have been closely associated with the newly created Big Band of the Bulgarian National Radio where he took successively the positions of pianist (...

Article

Claire Levy

(b Plovdiv, 19 Dec 1937). Bulgarian composer, pianist, conductor, arranger, and bandleader. He was internationally acknowledged for his innovative ideas, cross-cultural experiments, and contribution to the concept of fusion and free improvisation. Classically trained at the Bulgarian State Conservatory (1955–60) under Pancho Vladigerov (composition) and Andrey Stoyanov (piano), he is the author of numerous compositions in styles and genres including jazz, pop, symphony, chamber, film, and theatrical music. He conducted the Radio and Television Big Band in Sofia (1962–6) and led his own avant-garde quartet, Jazz Focus’65 (1965–8), which won the Critic’s Prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967. In 1970 he left Bulgaria for political reasons and moved to the USA where he joined the Don Ellis Orchestra (1971–8), and later collaborated with the classical/jazz quartet Free Flight. He also played with outstanding jazz musicians including Art Pepper, Billy Cobham, and Dave Holland, among many others....

Article

Marta Ottlová, Milan Pospíšil, John Tyrrell and Kelly St Pierre

[Friedrich]

(b Leitomischl, Bohemia [now Litomyšl, Czech Republic], 2 March 1824; d Prague, 12 May 1884). Czech composer, conductor, teacher, and music critic often described as the ‘father’ or ‘inventor’ of Czech national music. While his first language was German and his first nationalist compositions were based on Swedish narratives, Smetana asserted himself as composer of specifically Czech music from the 1860s, and his music posthumously became synonymous with a Czech national musical style. Today, Smetana’s eight operas, including Prodaná nevěsta (‘The Bartered Bride’), as well as his cycle of symphonic poems Má vlast (‘My Fatherland’) form the foundation of the Czech classical musical canon. His opera Libuše is also frequently cited as an ‘apotheosis’ of Czech music, especially in conjunction with the first movement of Má vlast, entitled ‘Vyšehrad’.

After his death, Smetana was transformed in the minds of his audiences and advocates from a composer of nationalistic music to a national symbol himself; he and his works became enduring points of reference for Czechs’ ever-shifting borders, politics, administrations, ethnicities, and imagined futures through the 20th century. For this reason, the actual Smetana in many ways has become inseparable from the myth of ‘Smetana’, as later critics and historians molded his life and work to match their needs. The composer’s supposed greatness, genius, Czechness, tragic deafness, and heroism all give voice to the shifting needs, anxieties, and interests of his audiences as much as to the composer himself....

Article

Amra Bosnić

(b Kuršumlija, Serbia, 1966). Bosnian and Herzegovinian composer. She graduated with a degree in composition from the Academy of Music in Sarajevo (1991), in the class of josip magdić, after which she gained the Master of Composition (2004) under the mentorship of composer dejan despić. Her first position was at the Srednja muzička škola (‘music high school’) in Valjevo, Serbia (1992–2000). She returned to Eastern Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to work as an Associate Professor of Harmony and Harmonic Analysis.

Dutina’s compositions reflect her interest in Balkan folklore, mostly of a rural-vocal type, and in the formal and harmonic devices associated with neoclassicism. She has composed solo songs, chamber music, symphonic works, vocal-instrumental music, choral music, music for children, and film music.

Dutina also cherishes folkloric vocal traditions through her engagement as founder and artistic director of the female vocal ensembles Rusalke (...

Article

Amra Bosnić

(b Dubrovnik, Croatia, 1940). Croatian and Bosnian and Herzegovinian conductor. One of the most significant conductors in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Homen graduated from the Academy of Music in Sarajevo in 1966, under the mentorship of Mladen Pozajić. He also studied composition with Ivan Brkanović and Miroslav Špiler. From 1966, he worked as a conductor at the National Theatre Opera in Sarajevo, and during the 1988–9 concert season he was engaged as the artistic director. Homen has also worked with the National Theatre Ballet in Sarajevo, the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Sarajevo Radio Television Orchestra. In 1971 he was a part-time associate of the Academy of Music in Sarajevo, teaching subjects including choral conducting; in 1986 he was engaged as an Associate Professor of Opera. Homen was a conductor of the Sarajevo student chorus Slobodan Princip Seljo (1962–91) and the Croatian Cultural Society Chorus Trebević (...