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Véronique Roelvink

Gheerken, Gerit, Gerrit, Gerryt, Gheeraert, Geerhart, Gerard, Gerart],[die Hondt]

(fl 1521–47). South Netherlandish composer, born in Bruges, probably around 1495. He was the son of the Bruges tegheldecker (roofer/tiler) Jacob de Hondt, who originated from a family of Bruges city roofers, living in the parish of St Jacob. We have no information on Gheerkin’s musical education, in Bruges or elsewhere. The first trace of Gheerkin de Hondt as zangmeester is found in the archives of the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft, where he became coraelmeester on 3 June 1521. He left the church in 1523, and returned for the period from 1 August 1530 to March 1532. On 13 July 1532 he is mentioned as zangmeester of his home church St Jacob in Bruges, where he served until the end of 1539. On 31 December 1539 he received his first payment as zangmeester of the Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap (‘Confraternity of Our Illustrious Lady’) in ’s-Hertogenbosch, a joint position with the chapter of the church of St Jan, for which he had probably already applied in ...

Article

William D. Gudger

revised by Erik Levi

(Albert Rudolf)

(b Berlin, April 30, 1903; d Herford, Oct 19, 1960). German composer. His father was director of music at the St Matthäus-Kirche in Berlin. After initial music studies with Arnold Ebel, Raphael attended the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin (1922–5). There he studied composition with Robert Kahn, organ with Walter Fischer and piano with Max Trapp. From 1926 he taught theory and composition at the State Conservatory and at the Kirchenmusikalisches Institut, Leipzig. He was particularly encouraged in his compositional efforts by Karl Straube, to whom he dedicated his Requiem (1927–8). As a result of being of half-Jewish origin, Raphael was one of a number of composers whose works were banned by the Nazi regime, and in 1934 he resigned his position at Leipzig and moved to Meiningen, and then to Laubach, Oberhessen, in 1945. He continued to compose and teach privately; in 1948...

Article

Catherine Wojtanowski

(b Samakand, Tajikstan [Uzbekistan], Dec 28, 1920). Bukharan Jewish singer. From an early age, she immersed herself in Bukharan Jewish traditions, first under the influence of her father, a cantor, who died when she was six. Her original surname was changed to Kuinova in an attempt to avoid anti-Semitic persecution by the Soviet government. She began vocal lessons at the age of 14, performing first in her school choir and on Soviet radio. Renowned for her expertise in traditional music, she toured the Soviet Union widely, performed for foreign dignitaries and at state functions, and earned the award of Honored Artist of the Soviet Union. Kuinova also became an expert in shashmaqam, a traditional music of Central Asia which features texts that date from 15th century. In 1980, she immigrated to the United States, settling in Queens, New York, becoming an active member of the Bukharan Jewish musical community, and participating in the Soviet Jewish Community Cultural Initiative. She has performed in a variety of settings, often supported by two or three instrumentalists. In ...

Article

Henry Sapoznik

(b Brooklyn, NY, Oct 4, 1912; d Plantation, FL, March 18, 2000) American klezmer clarinetist, saxophonist, and violinist. Though born in the United States, he was considered an equal of the great European klezmer clarinetists such as Dave Tarras and Naftule Brandwein.

Beginning his career at age 12 playing violin for silent movies, Epstein mastered the clarinet and later the saxophone, and played regularly on the Yiddish stage, on the radio, and in concert. The Epstein Brothers, including Max, Willie (trumpet), Isidore, or “Chizik” (clarinet) and Julie (drums), dominated the New York Jewish music scene for nearly three decades. They are best known for their playing in the Hasidic community in postwar New York, where they became the pre-eminent orchestra. They issued several recordings, including the classic LP Dukes of Freilachland (1958).

After a disastrous investment in a Yiddish theater, Max and his brothers abandoned New York for Florida, where they continued to play for weddings and parties. The number of people who requested the music they had mastered steadily diminished throughout the 1960s, however. The renewed interest in klezmer music in the 1970s brought them out of retirement. Their career was further enhanced when keyboard player Pete Sokolow (...

Article

Dafni Tragaki

[Sarah Skinazi]

(b Constantinople, 1897?; d Athens, 1980). Greek singer of Jewish origin, famous for her recordings of smyrneiko (urban popular song from Smyrna) and rebetiko song. Eskenazy came from a poor family who moved to Thessaloniki around 1900, where she started performing as a dancer until she got married to a wealthy man and gave birth to a son, Paraschos. A few years after her marriage, her husband died and Roza moved to Athens, where she launched her successful career as a musician. In Athens her voice was discovered by the famous rebetiko composer and recordings’ supervisor for the local Columbia record company, Panagiotis Tountas, who promoted Roza as a performer of the cosmopolitan repertoire of the café-aman. As a singer born in the late Ottoman empire, Roza could fluently sing urban popular songs of the Eastern Mediterranean (smyrneiko, i.e. from Smyrna, and politiko, i.e. from Constantinople), rebetiko...

Article

[Conn, Catherine ]

(b New Orleans, LA, Sept 3, 1910; d New York, NY, April 17, 2007). American popular singer and actress of German Jewish heritage. She trained as a singer and actress in Europe and New York and began her career with appearances in Broadway musicals in the early 1930s. While continuing to perform on the stage, she starred in a number of Hollywood movies in the 1930s, famously alongside the Marx Brothers in A Night at the Opera (1935). She also acted and sang with Bing Crosby in two movies. Carlisle married the playwright and theater director moss Hart in 1946. After taking some time off to raise her two children, Carlisle established a second career in television in the 1950s. She regularly appeared on the popular TV show “To Tell the Truth” between 1957 and 1978. Her career as a singer continued with her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in Johann Strauss’s ...

Article

Rita Kaizinger

(b Budapest, Sept 8, 1915; d Budapest, Oct 23, 1987). Hungarian composer and pianist. She was born into a well-established Jewish family in Budapest; they owned the city’s ‘English Park’, a famous entertainment park, and her father was a well-known journalist. Hajdú graduated as a piano teacher from the Budapest Academy of Music, where she studied with Zoltán Kodály (folk music) and György Ránki (composition and instrumentation). For more than 40 years she was one of the most successful composers of light music in Budapest. Her song melodies perpetuated in an original manner the typical, operetta-like nostalgic atmosphere of the city. As a pianist she worked with leading Hungarian actors and singers, who generally congregated in the capital. Among her most famous partners were Lili Neményi, Mária Mezei, Hanna Honthy, the Latabár brothers and the opera singers Sándor (Alexander) Svéd and Mihály Székely. Hajdú’s chansons and cabaret songs achieved remarkable popularity. She was one of the founders of Hungarian Television (...

Article

Richard Wigmore

(b Rochovot, Israel, Jan 14, 1960). South African bass-baritone of Israeli birth. The son of an Israeli father and an English mother, he emigrated to South Africa with his family in 1966. After studying singing at the RNCM in Manchester and at the University of Toronto, Saks made his professional début in 1982, in the title role in The Mikado at Stratford, Ontario. He learnt his operatic craft in Germany, singing with the Gelsenkirchen Opera from 1985 to 1988 and the Bielefeld Opera from 1988 to 1991. From 1992 to 1994 he was principal bass-baritone with Scottish Opera. Although he was admired in roles such as Leporello, this period was marred by clashes with the management over the company’s style of productions. He made his Covent Garden début, as Mr Flint in Billy Budd, in 1995 and the following year sang his first major Wagner role, Daland (...

Article

William Y. Elias

Opera in two acts (16 scenes) by Josef Tal to a libretto (in Hebrew) by Israel Eliraz; Hamburg, Städtische Oper, 9 November 1971 (in German).

Inspired by an ancient Talmudic legend, and an allegory about totalitarianism, the opera is set in an idyllic, peaceful country. The King (lyric baritone) hates the Queen (mezzo-soprano), whom he married only to prevent war with her father, and is in love with the Landlady (soprano). In Act 1, the devil Ashmedai (tenor) appears one night to the King and suggests that if he, Ashmedai, could rule as king for a year, he could turn the peace-loving citizens into bloodthirsty savages while the King could live happily with the Landlady. The King has such faith in his people that he agrees to the bet, but as soon as Ashmedai assumes the physical traits of the King and ascends the throne the citizens turn into intolerant, aggressive killers. A terrible war breaks out, causing total destruction. In Act 2, Ashmedai has won his bet, but the real King refuses to reclaim the throne because his faith in his people has been shattered. Ashmedai changes into a rooster and is devoured, unknowingly, by the Queen and her entourage. The King returns to his throne but refuses to continue the war, despite the advice of his Son (tenor), the commander of the army, and is lynched by the furious masses. Ashmedai appears to the people but they refuse to believe the truth. In an apocalyptic scene the physical world disintegrates, leaving only the King’s naked body with his anguished, faithful Daughter (soprano) leaning over him....

Article

John S. Powell

(‘David and Jonathan’)

Sacred opera in five acts by Marc-Antoine Charpentier to a libretto by François Bretonneau; Paris, Collège Louis-le-Grand, 28 February 1688.

The drama is set in the Holy Lands during biblical times. King Saul (bass), on the eve of his battle against the Philistines, consults a Witch (haute-contre), who in turn summons the ghost of Samuel (bass); Samuel predicts defeat. David (haute-contre), banished from the camp of the Israelites by Saul, has joined the Philistine army. In spite of his desire for peace, David is forced to fight against the Israelites and his beloved friend Jonathas [Jonathan] (soprano), son of Saul. When he sees his sons dying and himself about to be captured, Saul falls on his sword. Jonathan, mortally wounded, dies in David’s arms, while the Israelites proclaim David to be Saul’s successor as their king.

David et Jonathas served as a five-part intermède to the spoken tragedy ...