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(b Naples, 1717 (?); d Naples, after July 28, 1778). Italian harpsichordist, composer, and maestro di cappella. Son of Giuseppe D’Alessandro, Gennaro studied with Leonardo Leo, according to tenor Anton Raaff. Fétis’ statement that D’Alessandro was born in 1717 is unsourced. On August 21, 1739 he was hired as maestro di coro at Venice’s Ospedale della Pietà, a position he retained until May 13, 1740. He was the first in a distinguished cohort of Neapolitan choirmasters who served at the Pietà during the 18th century, following a local trend started in 1726 by Nicola Porpora at the Ospedale degli Incurabili.

Of the sacred music D’Alessandro composed for the Pietà only incomplete vocal partbooks of a Miserere and a Missa brevis survive in the Fondo Correr of the Conservatorio ‘Benedetto Marcello’ in Venice, bearing the names of the soprano (Michielina) and the alto (Placida) among the figlie di coro...

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Jason A. Wright

(b Birmingham, AL, March 16, 1943; d Manhattan, NY, May 9, 2015). American organist and composer. A graduate of The Juilliard School, Robinson served The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Holy Family Catholic Church, Park Avenue Christian Church, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, and Park Avenue Synagogue, all in New York City. He was chair of the organ department and professor of music (1984–2015) at the Manhattan School of Music. Robinson composed music for organ solo, organ and orchestra, chorus (122 compositions for both the Christian and Jewish traditions), and solo voice with organ and/or orchestral accompaniment. Other compositions include music for a film, 9 Variations on a Dance Theme (1966–7) directed by Hilary Harris, a play by Anne Sexton (1973), and an unfinished opera, Scene from Medea: an Opera in Progress (1979). His works were commissioned by houses of worship and concert halls across the United States. Noted commissions include works for the Archbishop of Canterbury (...

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Malcolm Riley

(b Chatham, June 1, 1903; d Bournemouth, May 1, 1946). English organist and composer. The only child of William Thomas Whitlock and Annie Jemima Reeves, he was enrolled as a chorister at Rochester Cathedral, Kent from the age of seven (initially under Bertram Luard-Selby) and later appointed assistant organist there under Charles Hylton Stewart. In 1920, at the age of 16, he won the Kent Scholarship to the RCM, where he studied composition with Stanford and Vaughan Williams and organ with Henry G. Ley. From 1924 to 1928 he was Organist of St Mary’s Church, Chatham, when he was forced, due to ill-health, to cut back his activities. After a short time for treatment at the Midhurst Tuberculosis sanatorium in Sussex he took up the part-time post of Organist of St Matthew’s Parish Church in Borstal, a village near Rochester. His move to Bournemouth in 1930 resulted in greater awareness of his accomplishments both as a performer and composer. There he worked as Director of Music at St. Stephen’s Church until ...

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Hana Vlhová-Wörner

[Domazlaus Predicator]

(b Bohemia, c. 1300; d c. 1350). Dominican friar and a leading author of liturgical poetry during the period of rising patriotic feelings in Bohemia. Several sequences to Bohemian patron saints appearing after 1300 are attributed to his authorship, among them De superna hierarchia to Corpus Christi (with acrostic ...

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[Sister Aimee ]

(b Salford, ON, Oct 9, 1890; d Oakland, CA, Sept 27, 1944). American evangelist, composer, librettist, and hymn writer. Known worldwide as “Sister Aimee,” she founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (FSGC) and built the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, California. The daughter of a Canadian wheat farmer, she grew up in the Methodist church and the Salvation Army, from which she inherited a strong preference for hymn singing. The Salvation Army also taught her the value of community service, emphasized the potential of women to be active in the ministry, and demonstrated the importance of vigorous and attractive music in worship services, especially brass bands and popular congregational hymns. After the death of her first husband, the preacher and missionary Robert Semple in Hong Kong in 1910, she settled in New York City, where she became active in religious revival work. In 1912 she married businessman Harold McPherson, but her growing interest in pursuing an evangelical ministry led to their divorce in ...

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Nicolae Gheorghiță

(b Achaias, Palaias Patras, Peloponnese, Greece, 1777; d Bucharest, Oct 10, 1821). Greek composer, psaltēs, teacher, historian, poet, copyist, and calligrapher. He studied Byzantine chant with his father Athanasios (the personal physician to Sultan Abdul Hamit (d 1789) and a servant of the Great Church), and with Iakovos Protopsaltēs (d 1800) and Petros Byzantios Fygas (d 1808) at the School of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. In 1797 he settled in Bucharest, taking courses at the Princely Academy and at the same time teaching ecclesiastical chant at Căldărușani Monastery (1797–1809) and the schools of psaltic music in Bucharest (1809–16). He was acknowledged as an excellent performer on the tambur and keman, but also played the piano. He was the author of a musical grammar, The Theoretical and Practical Didaskalia of Church Music Written in Particular for the Tambur and Keman Instruments...

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(b Shoah, Ethiopia, 1949). Ethiopian singer, church musician, and liturgical scholar, naturalized American. Seyoum began studying music at the age of eight and attended various religious schools in his homeland. As he grew older, he began to learn new types of performance, including the Bethlehem style of singing, Christian chant, and sacred dance. At 17 years of age, he was already named a quanygeta, or “leader of the right hand side,” an important position among Ethiopian church musicians (also called dabrata). He quickly rose from deacon to marigeta, the leader of the musicians. He spent ten years in Greece learning more about liturgical practices and then came to the United States in 1982. Seyoum settled in Alexandria, Virgina, and joined the Debre Selam Kidist Mariam Church in Washington, DC. He became a leader there, and his remarkable musical skills have led to the preservation of many traditional elements of the Ethiopian Christian tradition in America. To codify and disseminate these practices, Seyoum released a six-CD set of liturgical materials. He has memorized the entirety of the Ethiopian Psalter (Dawit) and has intimate knowledge of other sacred books, such as the Ethiopian Hymnary. Seyoum is an expert of instrumental church practices, including those that are tied to the extremely complicated notational system from Ethiopia that includes more than 600 symbols. He is also the only living master of the prayer staff and its movements (an art called ...

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Nicolae Gheorghiță

(fl 1665–89, Wallachia). Romanian psaltēs and composer. He studied Byzantine music at the Metropolitan School in Bucharest, being appointed in 1665 to the position of secretary (grămătic) at the Princely Church (Biserica Domnească) of the Annunciation in Bucharest and later to that of protopsaltēs to the Princely Court of Wallachia (Ιωβάσκου Βλάχου και Πρωτοψάλτου της Ουγγροβλαχίας Κούρτης, DK-Kk Gr. MS 4466, f.127), which he held until 1689. The name Vlachos points to the fact that for a period he was also active outside the country, most likely on Mount Athos.

Named in the manuscripts as a pupil of Germanos (fl 1660–85), Iovașcu is the Romanian composer whose musical works, although less numerous than those of his contemporaries and exclusively in the Greek language, enjoyed the widest circulation in the Greek-speaking world, being eagerly copied particularly in the musical codices housed in the libraries of Mount Athos....

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Laurie J. Sampsel

(b Cheshire, CT, Aug 29, 1772; d Argyle, NY, April 1850). American psalmodist and singing master, brother to the engraver Amos Doolittle. Eliakim moved to Hampton, New York, around 1800. There he married Hasadiah Fuller in 1811, and the couple had six children. He also lived in Poultney and Pawlet, Vermont, where he taught singing schools. A Congregationalist, Doolittle is remembered primarily for his 45 sacred vocal works. He composed in every genre common during the period, with the exception of the set piece. His most frequently reprinted pieces were his fuging tunes, and his “Exhortation” appeared in print over 40 times by 1820. Doolittle was talented at musically depicting the meaning and mood of the texts he set. Most of his music was published in his own tunebook, The Psalm Singer’s Companion (New Haven, CT, 1806). He also composed a secular tune, “The Hornet Stung the Peacock,” about a naval battle during the War of ...

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Jonas Westover

(b Washington, DC, Nov 21, 1947). American hymn writer and seminary professor. She grew up studying piano, then focused on religious studies as an undergraduate at Southwestern at Memphis University, later called Rhodes College (BA 1969). She earned advanced degrees from Chicago Theological Seminary (MDiv 1973, DD 1983), the University of Notre Dame (MA 1987), and Boston University (DD 1989). She was ordained by the United Church of Christ in 1974 and served at various churches until accepting the position of professor of worship at the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1989. Having written songs as a child, she became interested in writing hymn texts in the mid-1970s. She has written nearly 200 poem-texts, including “Arise, your Light Has Come,” “O Loving Maker of the Earth,” and “When we are Tested,” most of which have appeared in various hymnals and edited collections. Some of her texts have been designed for special occasions, such as “Send us your Spirit” for the ...