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Stefaan Verdegem

(b Liège, April 7, 1859; d Bruxelles, July 19, 1917). Belgian oboist, teacher, and director of the Brussels Monnaie opera house. He studied oboe at the Liège Conservatoire with Alphonse Romedenne, receiving the premier prix in 1875, and a gold medal in 1877. Guidé started his career as principal oboe of the Association Artistique in Angers, France, where he became acquainted with a number of young French composers including Massenet, Chabrier, Saint-Saëns, and Vincent d’Indy, who dedicated his Fantaisie pour Orchestre et Hautbois principal op.31 to him. In 1884 he became the oboe teacher at the Brussels Conservatoire, and principal oboe of the Monnaie opera house. Much admired by conductors and composers such as Felix Mottl, Hans Richter, and Richard Strauss—who called him ‘the poet of the oboe’—Guidé’s reputation was renowned throughout Europe. Considered the godfather of the Belgian oboe school, the most famous of his students was Henri De Busscher, who influenced Leon Goossens and the English oboe school, and, later, as oboist of the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra, the American oboe school as well. Also gifted as a conductor and concert organizer, Guidé became co-director, together with Maurice Kufferath, of the Monnaie opera house in ...

Article

Eldonna L. May

(b Detroit, MI, Jan 1, 1929; d Detroit, MI, July 2010). American singer, educator, choral director, and composer. He worked tirelessly to promote and preserve the works of African American musicians through coalition building and artistic entrepreneurship by founding the Brazeal Dennard Chorale and cofounding the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s “Classical Roots” concert series in 1976. Dennard attended Highland Park Junior College (1954–56) and he received his undergraduate (1959) and master’s (1962) degrees in music education from Wayne State University. He first gained exposure to music through attending church choir rehearsals with his mother. He studied piano and voice with Dean Robert L. Nolan and later sang with the Robert Nolan Choir. His professional career began at age 17 as conductor of the Angelic Choir at Peoples Baptist Church in Detroit. From 1951 to 1953 he was responsible for the music for all chapel services while serving as a corporal in the US Army in Virginia. Beginning in ...

Article

Vera H. Flaig

(b Balandugu, Guinea, West Africa, 1950). Drummer, director, and teacher of Guinean birth. Mamady Keïta began his official apprenticeship with the village djembéfola at the age of eight. By his late teens, he was lead drummer of Ballet D’Joliba. By 22 he became the company’s first drummer to act as artistic director. Upon his retirement from the ballet in 1986, Keïta played briefly for the national ballet in Côte D’Ivoire before settling in Belgium where he founded an international djembé school called Tam Tam Mandingue.

Keïta came to live in the United States in 2004. At his first official workshop as an American resident, Keïta announced: “I spent fifteen years cleaning up the djembé drumming in Europe. Now it is time to do the same in America.” Despite the growing popularity of the djembé, Keïta was surprised by the lack of understanding about its history and music within American drum circles. Keïta, together with six other ...

Article

Jean W. Thomas

(b Darmstadt, Germany, May 4, 1816; d Pittsburgh, PA, Feb 20, 1897). Composer, conductor, performer, merchant, impresario, and teacher of German birth. Kleber immigrated with his family to Pittsburgh around 1832 from Darmstadt, where he was trained in piano and voice. Three years later he launched his long career in Pittsburgh as music “professor” by becoming an instructor at Western Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies. In 1839 he organized a brass band, first known as the Kleber Band, then The Pittsburgh Band, described as the first brass band west of the Alleghenies. That year also marked his entry into the music business with a piano salesroom under the name “Ye Golden Harp.” By 1850 he was operating a growing business in pianos, organs, instruments, and sheet music. The store was a gathering place for the city’s musicians, including Stephen Foster, for whom Kleber served as a mentor.

Fluent in German, French, and Italian as well as English, Kleber acted as an impresario throughout much of his career, serving as a local manager for many European touring artists who were a mainstay of the American concert stage. He also organized concerts for local musicians, featuring himself variously as conductor, pianist, and singer. Considered by some to be brash, aggressive, self-promoting, and combative, he and Augustus, his brother and business partner, gained notoriety as well as a $100 fine each in ...

Article

Bonnie E. Fleming

(b Harrisburg, PA, March 2, 1921; d Westport, CT, Sept 16, 2017). American singing actress, producer, stage director, and teacher. Possessing a wide range of performing skills, she was known for undertaking challenging operatic roles such as Birdie and Regina in Mark Blitzstein’s Regina (1949, 1953, and 1958) and Lizzie in Jack Beeson’s Lizzie Borden (1965). She worked on Broadway, in light opera, on radio and television, and at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Lewis attended Penn State University and was encouraged by its Glee Club director to audition for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she went on to study with Emilio de Gogorza. After her teacher suddenly left the Institute, Lewis auditioned and made her debut with the Philadelphia Opera Company at the age of 19 in the role of the Marschallin in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. A remarkably quick study, Lewis absorbed music and words in any language almost on the spot, a gift to which she attributed most of her early success. In ...

Article

Jere T. Humphreys

(b Wylie, TX, Oct 17, 1913; d Tallahassee, FL, Dec 13, 2004). American Music educator, conductor, scholar, and administrator. He earned degrees from North Texas State College (BS 1934), Teachers College, Columbia University (MA 1938), and New York University (EdD 1943). He was director of music for public schools in Texas (1934–7) and New York (1938–41), and taught at New York University (1941–3) and the University of Texas (1946–7). He served as an Executive Officer in the US Army Medical Administrative Corps in the United States and Philippines (1943–6). He then taught at Florida State University (1947–66), where he was named Distinguished Professor (1961). During those years he held a Fulbright Fellowship to Japan (1956–7) and summer appointments at North Texas State University, University of Michigan, and Indiana University. He served on committees and advisory boards for the US Department of State International Cultural Presentations Program (...

Article

Anastasia Siopsi

(b Piraeus, 1897; d Piraeus, 1981). Greek composer, music teacher, conductor, music manager, and historian.

He studied music theory with Geōrgios Lampelet and Armando Marsik at Athens Conservatory, and continued his studies in Leipzig with Fritz Benesevic and Max Steinizer. From 1914, and for several years, he was a teacher of vocal training in several schools and a professor in the Academy of Film Studies, of the Higher School of Cinema. He was a member of the board of the organization ‘Ellēnikon Melodrama’ [Greek Melodrama] and directing advisor; founder and conductor of the choir in the church of the Greek community in Leipzig; and founding member of the board of the Union of the Critics of the Theatre and Music, the organization ‘Arxaion Drama’ [Ancient Drama], the Greek Society of composers, writers, and publishers, among others. He was the director of the journal Mousika Chronika [Musical Chronicles] (...

Article

J.M. Schlitz

(b Waterloo, NY, Jan 1872; d Los Angeles, CA, 1938). American Whistler and founder of a school of whistling. She grew up in Tecumseh, Michigan, and studied voice at the Detroit Conservatory. She later sang and taught locally until overstraining her voice. At age 30 she, her mother, and her aunts moved to California, where, after modeling certain bird species in the Sierras, Woodward began performing as a whistler. With the earlier successes of alice j. Shaw still fresh in the public’s mind, Woodward attracted many female students, and in 1909 she opened her California School of Artistic Whistling in Los Angeles.

Woodward’s “Bird Method” of whistling combined popular parlor tunes with chirped ornaments, each associated with a specific bird species and musical symbol. Her school was known for its touring Women’s Whistling Chorus of 30–50 members, which Woodward also directed. Noted students included Margaret McKee, who performed and recorded extensively, and Marion Darlington, who provided the whistling talent for early Disney films (...

Article

Leah G. Weinberg

(b Exeter, NH, Nov 8, 1961). American Musician, songwriter, record company founder, and author. Zanes was raised near Concord, New Hampshire, and after attending Oberlin College for one year, moved to Boston. There, Zanes, his brother Warren, the bass player Tom Lloyd, and the drummer Steve Morrell formed the Del Fuegos. The roots-rock band produced five albums between 1984 and 1989, with singles “Don’t Run Wild,” “I still want you,” “Name Names,” and “Move with me Sister.” After the Del Fuegos disbanded and Zanes’s solo album Cool Down Time failed to sell, he began to listen to banjo songs, cowboy tunes, and traditional songs that he remembered from childhood. After his daughter Anna was born, Zanes’s dissatisfaction with the American children’s music market led him to form a family-oriented band that merged folk and rock styles and instrumentation. Initially known as the Wonderland String Band, the New York based-group underwent changes in title and personnel, first to the Rocket Ship Revue, and then to Dan Zanes & Friends. The seven-member band has produced nine albums on Zanes’s label, Festival Five Records, which include original songs as well as folk, traditional, and gospel songs from the United States, Jamaica, Africa, and Mexico. ...

Article

[Gyorgy Melitonovich ]

(b St. Petersburg, Russia, Jan 22, 1904; d New York, NY, April 30, 1983). Dancer, choreographer, teacher, and ballet company director of Russian birth, active in the United States. He was trained at the Imperial Ballet School in St. Petersburg, where he created his first choreography. He also studied piano and music theory at the Petrograd Conservatory of Music, gaining a firm musical foundation. After graduating in 1921, he danced in the ballet company of the State Theater of Opera and Ballet, and choreographed for his own ensemble, the Young Ballet. In 1924 he left Russia for western Europe, where he joined Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. After the company disbanded following Diaghilev’s death in 1929, he worked in Europe until 1933, when he came to the United States at the invitation of Lincoln Kirstein. The two founded the School of American Ballet in New York in 1934, and together formed four successive companies with the dancers trained there: the American Ballet (...