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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....

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Alex Harris Stein

(b Dayton, OH, Oct 14, 1957). American writer, guitarist, and bandleader. He was a staff writer for the Village Voice from 1987 to 2003 (a contributor since 1981) and one of a group of young African Americans writing for the Voice on black culture, politics, and identity. His work focuses on black music and culture from a postmodern, black nationalist perspective and is noteworthy for an unconventional style that Tate describes as blending academic and street culture. One of the first journalists to cover hip hop, he has written about Miles Davis, George Clinton, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Bob Dylan, and others. He has contributed to the New York Times, Rolling Stone, VIBE, the Washington Post, Spin, The Nation, Down Beat, and other publications. His books include Flyboy in the Buttermilk (New York, 1992), Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience (Chicago, 2003), and ...

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Charles Jahant

(b New York, NY, March 18, 1912; d New York, NY, Aug 9, 1981). American conductor and music critic. He studied at Columbia University (MA 1934) and the Institute of Musical Art, and was a critic for the New York Herald Tribune from 1939 to 1943. During World War II he served with the US Army in Italy; in 1944 he conducted opera performances at Rome’s Teatro Quirino, and in 1944 and 1945 conducted at the Rome Opera, working with such artists as Gigli, Ferruccio Tagliavini, and Maria Caniglia. He led the Phoenix SO from 1949 to 1952, then went to Turkey where he was conductor of the Ankara SO from 1957 to 1958. In 1959 and 1960 he led the American Opera Society in complete performances of Berlioz’s Les troyens at Carnegie Hall when the scheduled conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham, was indisposed. In 1961 he founded the Friends of French Opera, which presented a number of neglected works, especially those of Jules Massenet. In the early 1970s he was director of Opera Atlanta, then head of the opera department at the Peabody Conservatory. For more than 40 years his radio commentaries were heard during the intermissions of Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. His published writings include ...

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Scott Warfield

(b Jackson, MS, Sept 14, 1910; d New York, NY, Aug 29, 1982). American conductor, composer, arranger, educator, and writer on music. After studying composition at the Cincinnati Conservatory, Engel moved to New York, where he had lessons in composition at the Juilliard School with rubin Goldmark and then privately with roger Sessions . During the late 1930s Engel provided incidental music for plays and dance groups and conducted his own Madrigal Singers under the auspices of the WPA. He conducted the premieres of Kurt Weill’s Johnny Johnson and Aaron Copland’s The Second Hurricane, and he also led the chorus in the audience at the improvised premiere of Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock.

Engel is best known for his work in commercial venues. He supplied vocal and choral arrangements and other forms of incidental music for theatrical and broadcast productions. As a conductor, his most successful shows on Broadway included Gian Carlo Menotti’s ...

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Jacquelyn Sholes

(b Shenandoah, IA, June 2, 1898; d Memphis, TN, Feb 4, 1990). American music critic, conductor, and pianist. He studied at the University of Nebraska (1915–16), Chicago Music College (1920–22, subsequently incorporated into Roosevelt University), and the Gunn School in Chicago (MM 1923). He worked as a music critic for the Chicago Herald and Examiner between 1925 and 1936 and for the Chicago Tribune from 1943 to 1947. Between 1935 and 1943 he served as the Illinois state director of the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Music Project and as a co-conductor of the Illinois SO. In 1947 he became the first full-time music critic for the Los Angeles Times, a position from which he officially retired in 1965. He subsequently contributed to the LA Times as a staff writer and, from 1966 until shortly before his death, as Critic Emeritus. Goldberg was known for his emphatic support of conductors Zubin Mehta and Georg Solti and also for his recollections of such figures as Percy Grainger, Josef Hofmann, Vladimir Horowitz, Lauritz Melchior, and Artur Rubinstein. Trained as a pianist, he was especially knowledgeable about pianists and piano repertory....

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Jernej Weiss

(b Dobrova, nr Ljubljana, Slovenia; Dec 25, 1877; d Ljubljana, Dec 6, 1936). Slovenian music educator, conductor, and writer on music. Uncle of composer Bojan Adamič. He received his first musical education at the Ljubljana Glasbena Matica society music school, from 1911 to 1912 he studied at the Conservatory in Trieste, and in 1912 he passed the national examination at the Ljubljana Conservatory. During World War I he joined the Austrian Army, and from 1915 to 1920 was a prisoner of war at Tashkent. In 1920 he returned to Ljubljana, where he taught music at the teacher’s college and at the classical gymnasium until his retirement in 1932. From 1925 to 1928 he was conductor of the Orchestral Society at the Glasbena Matica music society, and from January 1928 to December 1929 editor of the Nova muzika (‘New Music’) magazine. He was also active as a music critic and reviewer for the magazines ...

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Severine Neff

(b Topeka, KS, Oct 2, 1874; d Washington, DC, Nov 22, 1963). American music critic, conductor, and pianist. In 1893 he entered the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied piano with Carl Reinecke. From 1901 to 1905 he taught piano at the Chicago Musical College and studied theory privately with Ziehn. He gave a number of recitals in Chicago that included works by Debussy, Ravel, MacDowell, and Ferruccio Busoni; his playing was described in the Music News as that of a “thinker and experimenter.” From 1910 to 1915, as music critic of the Chicago Tribune, he reviewed works by such composers as De Lamarter, Freer, Clarence Loomis, and Adolph Weidig. Between 1914 and 1916 he taught Ernst Bacon, on whom he exerted a profound influence. He left the Tribune to form the American SO, and became its conductor; the orchestra’s inaugural program (14 November 1915) included works by De Lamarter, Loomis, MacDowell, and Cecil Burleigh. He founded the Glenn Dillard Gunn School of Music and Dramatic Art in ...

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Joseph A. Bomberger

(b Berlin, ?June 12, 1838; d New York, April 28, 1881). Prussian critic, editor, conductor, and writer, active in the USA. Carlberg started piano under the instruction of organist Louis Thiele at the age of four. He later studied violin with Gruenwald and harmony with A.B. Marx. Though his father wanted him to pursue medicine, Carlberg decided to enter a career in music. He traveled to New York in 1857, where he continued his musical studies with Carl Anschütz and served as music editor of the New York Staats-Zeitung from 1858 to 1860. Because he was still a Prussian citizen, Carlberg was conscripted in 1861 and served in the Prussian military for eight months. He also became editor of the Neue Berliner Musikzeitung. During the next decade he gave concerts in London, Vienna, Paris, Warsaw, and Berlin. While conducting in Russia in 1871, Carlberg was persuaded by Prince George Galitzin to return to America to conduct some Russian concerts. Though the concerts were a failure, he was engaged as music director for the Pauline Lucca opera season, also writing reviews for the ...

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Val Wilmer

[Cecil Valentine ]

(b Kingston, Jamaica, March 28, 1926; d Romford, Oct 10, 2009). Jamaican trumpeter, flugelhorn player, conductor, arranger, bandleader, journalist, and broadcaster. Self-taught on clarinet, he changed to trumpet to play with the big bands of the drummer Redver Cooke and the saxophonist Eric Deans, then formed the Beboppers with Ernest Ranglin and Dizzy Reece. He performed annually with the Jamaica All-Stars, and in 1950 he formed a septet which included Joe Harriott. From 1954 he promoted concerts and festivals, organizing the annual Big Band, which featured the island’s leading talents, notably Wilton “Bogey” Gaynair, Don Drummond, and the pianist (later politician) Seymour “Foggy” Mullings. Ranglin, Roland Alphonso, and the trombonist Emanuel “Rico” Rodriguez joined this ensemble to accompany such visiting artists as Sarah Vaughan, Donald Byrd, and Jimmy Owens. Bradshaw, who played in a raw, direct style influenced by Dizzy Gillespie, was a tireless promoter of Jamaican music. For 25 years he served as president of the Jamaican Federation of Musicians, and he arranged the island’s national anthem. Although he recorded extensively and toured throughout the Americas playing reggae, jazz was his preferred mode of expression. Among the guests who appeared with his poll-winning small group are Roy Haynes, Reece, Coleridge Goode, and Byard Lancaster. In the 1990s he travelled to England annually, playing in Birmingham with Andy Hamilton’s band....

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