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Christopher Palmer

revised by Martin Marks

(Towner)

(b New York, NY, 8 Feb 1932). Composer, arranger, conductor, and pianist.

He learned the piano from the age of eight and after moving to Los Angeles with his family in 1948 studied with the pianist and arranger Bobby Van Eps. He served in the US Air Force (1951–4), orchestrating for and conducting service bands, then moved back to New York, where he studied for a year with Rosina Lhévinne at the Juilliard School and played in jazz clubs and recording studios. After returning to the West Coast he enrolled at UCLA and took up private composition studies with Arthur Olaf Andersen and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, among others. From 1956 Williams was a studio pianist in Hollywood and two years later began arranging and composing music for television, contributing the main title to Checkmate (1960; see Thomas and Burlingame). Through the mid-1960s he composed for several series and worked for Columbia Records as a pianist, arranger, and conductor; he also made a number of albums with André Previn. During this period Williams began scoring feature films, with many of his earliest scores for comedies, such as ...

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

Daniele Buccio

(Henry )

(b Canton, OH, Aug 18, 1905; d West Redding, CT, July 31, 1978). American composer, violinist, bandleader, recording engineer, and producer. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, he performed as a light classical violinist in the United States and Europe. During the 1930s he studied conducting with Maurice Frigara in Paris. After a near-fatal car accident in 1940, he organized his own dance band, the Light Brigade, which recorded for RCA and Columbia. After he disbanded it at the turn of the decade, Light devoted himself to management, working for several record companies before becoming president of Waldorf Music Hall Records in 1954. He founded his own label, Grand Award, in 1956 and had success with Dixieland and honky-tonk piano albums. In 1959, he founded Command Records on which he released Persuasive Percussion, the first in a successful series of high-fidelity albums that used stereo technology to great advantage. Over the next two decades, he continued to produce hit albums drawing on the latest technological savvy and packaged with covers usually designed by Josef Albers. Musicians who appeared on Light’s albums include the Free Design, Doc Severinsen, Dick Hyman, Bobby Byrne, and Bobby Hackett. In ...

Article

John Koegel

(b Bucyrus, OH, March 15, 1854; d Alameda, CA, Oct 16, 1926). American composer, pianist, conductor, and music educator. He studied piano with William Mason at the Boston Conservatory, and piano and composition with Carl Reinecke in Leipzig, where his Symphony in F (1872) was performed. In the 1880s, because of ill health, he moved to San Luis Obispo, California, for its fine weather, teaching music, and leading local performing groups. In 1889 he moved to Santa Barbara, California, where he also taught music, led the town band, and conducted some of the first performances of Haydn’s music in the western United States. There he met members of the Californio elite, who sang Mexican folk and parlor songs for him. McCoy arranged ten of these in his series Canciones del País: Folk Songs of the Spanish Californians (Santa Barbara, CA, 1895), later issued in San Francisco in ...

Article

John A. Emerson

(b Pueblo, CO, July 22, 1889; d Carmel Valley, nr Jamesburg, CA, Nov 9, 1959). American cellist, composer, and conductor. His father was the nationally known educator Preston Willis Search and his wife the pianist and composer Opal Piontkowski Heron, whom he married on 27 February 1923. In 1901 Search began studying cello in Jena, Germany, and subsequently he was a pupil of Joseph Adamowski at the New England Conservatory (c1903–4) and of Lino Mattioli and George Rogovoy at the Cincinnati College Conservatory (c1904–7). From 1907 to 1911 he attended the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied cello with Julius Klengel, composition with Gustav Schreck, Richard Hofmann, and Max Reger, and conducting with Arthur Nikisch. After returning from Germany he made three recital tours of the United States and was first cellist of the American SO in Chicago (1915–16). After serving as conductor of the Mare Island Naval Training Station orchestra and band (...

Article

Richard S. James

revised by Francis Kayali

(Warren )

(b Buffalo, NY, Jan 23, 1933). American composer, conductor, and keyboard player. He attended the Yale School of Music (1949–50), the University of Buffalo (BA 1953), the Longy School of Music (1953–4), and Brandeis University (1954–6, 1960–61, MFA); in 1956–7 he studied at the Paris Conservatoire on a grant from the French government. His principal teachers in composition were harold Shapero , Irving Fine, and Nadia Boulanger. He has held academic positions at the Longy School of Music (1961–2), Brandeis University (1961–6), and Sarah Lawrence College (1966–92), where he directed the Studio for Electronic Music and Sound Media. In 1965 he received a grant from the Inter-University Committee on Travel Grants to visit the USSR; he has twice won the Ingram Merrill Award (1967–8, 1968–9) and in 1979 obtained an Arthur Foundation grant.

In the 1950s and early 60s Spiegelman pursued a neoclassical approach partly inspired by Stravinsky, by whom he was later befriended. In the early 1960s, inspired by the forays of Stravinsky and Fine into serial music, as well as by Milton Babbitt, he started using serial techniques in his works. Babbitt’s ...

Article

Douglas R. Nelson

revised by Matthew Franke

(b nr Raleigh, NC, Oct 10, 1897; d Asheville, NC, Jan 21, 1959). American composer, flutist, and conductor. He studied flute, conducting, and composition at the Institute of Musical Art, New York, graduating in 1924. In 1928 he won a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship for his symphonic suite From the Southern Mountains, which remained popular throughout his life. His musical goals were fundamentally and sometimes brashly nationalist, as he sought to create a uniquely American musical expression through the use of folk materials. He was actively involved in collecting Southern folk musics, and he helped organize the White Top and Dogwood festivals of Southern music and culture. His most ambitious compositional efforts were dramatic in nature, including an opera, incidental music for the plays of Paul Green and others, and a “musical folk comedy” which never reached Broadway. In 1931 he organized the Institute of Folk Music at the University of North Carolina, and later he established the North Carolina State SO. He also made flutes, engraved music, and invented various writing devices. His music, dominated by folk tunes and folklike material, is based in traditional harmony but overlaid with unconventional chord progressions, major–minor ambiguity, and free dissonance. He published ...

Article

Kevin O’Brien

(b Hartford, CT, Jan 7, 1923; d Charlottesville, VA, March 16, 1994). American composer, keyboard player, conductor, and teacher. He studied piano with Charles King, organ with Ernest White at the Pius X School of Liturgical Music in Manhattanville, New York, composition with Franz Wasner, and chant at Solesmes Abbey in France. In 1944 he enrolled at Catholic University of America as a seminarian; he was ordained a priest in 1947 and received a master’s degree in Romance languages in 1948. He continued composition studies with nicolas Nabokov at the Peabody Conservatory and Nadia Boulanger. Woollen was the youngest charter faculty member of Catholic University’s music department in 1950. Originally in charge of choruses and chant studies, he later taught composition, paleography, history, organ, art song literature, and diction. He attended Harvard University (MA 1954), where he studied composition with walter Piston and musicology with Tillman Merritt. In ...

Article

Terence J. O’Grady

revised by Bryan Proksch

(b Los Angeles, CA, March 31, 1935). American trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and record company executive. He studied trumpet as a child and left college to play in the army for a two-year period. After three years of producing records on his own, he launched A&M Records with Jerry Moss in 1962. A&M’s first issue was also Alpert’s first recording as a trumpeter and bandleader, The Lonely Bull (A&M, 1962). The title track included sounds from the bullring in Tijuana, Mexico, so Alpert dubbed his band the Tijuana Brass. His music exploited a distinctive combination of Mexican mariachi-style brass with jazz rhythms, which was dubbed Ameriachi. A string of hits including “Mexican Shuffle” (A&M, 1964) and “Tijuana Taxi” (A&M, 1965) followed. In 1966 Alpert had five recordings simultaneously listed on the Billboard Top 20. His cover of “This guy’s in love with you” reached no.1 in ...