(b Kochowitz, nr Leitmeritz, Bohemia, Sept 20, 1832; d Stuttgart, April 1, 1915). Bohemian composer. After studying at the Prague Conservatory, he was engaged in 1853 as a double-bass player at the Stuttgart Hofkapelle where he then served as Kapellmeister from 1867 to 1888. Between 1852 and 1894 he composed orchestral and chamber music in addition to sacred and secular vocal works. He was most important in the field of operatic composition, his six operas winning him acclaim as one of the masters between Meyerbeer and Wagner. His first opera, Anna von Landscron (1858), was firmly rooted in the German Romantic opera tradition. However König Enzio, produced four years later, clearly showed the influence of French grand opera, which the composer had studied first-hand during a long visit to Paris. He was especially successful in 1866 with his third opera, Astorga, whose less dramatic text allowed scope for his primarily lyrical style to develop. In ...
Anna Amalie Abert
(b Santiago, 1863; d Santiago, May 29, 1911). Chilean composer. He studied theory and singing at the National Conservatory, and the organ and composition privately. He was organist at Santiago Cathedral, and occasionally conducted zarzuelas. In 1902 he composed the first act of his opera-ballet Caupolicán; based on the 16th-century poem La araucana by Alonso de Ercilla, the libretto is by Pedro Antonio Pérez and Adolfo Urzúa Rozas. The première of Act 1 took place at the Teatro Municipal, Santiago, in June 1902. Acevedo then received an award that enabled him to study in Milan, where he composed the last two acts of Caupolicán. The complete work, comprising three acts and 11 scenes, was given its first performance at the Teatro Municipal, Santiago, on 8 December 1942, more than 30 years after the composer’s death. Acevedo also composed masses and other religious works, but the public, devoted to Italian opera at that time, never accepted his music....
(b Hinsbourg, Jan 4, 1904; d Illkirch-Graffenstaden, Sept 7, 1984). French conductor, composer and opera administrator . He studied in Strasbourg with Erb and in Paris with Koechlin and Gédalge. He joined the Strasbourg Opera in 1933 as a répétiteur and stayed until he retired in 1972, being successively chorus master (1933–6), conductor from 1936, co-director (with Ernest Bour) from 1955 to 1960 and director (1960–72).
Adam sought to create a balanced repertory of French, German and Italian classics, together with contemporary works (such as Jean Martinon’s Hécube, 1956, which was specially commissioned) and revivals of rarely given masterpieces such as Les Troyens (1960) and Roussel’s Padmâvatî (1967). He gave the first French performances of Bizet’s Don Procopio (1958), Françaix’s L’apostrophe (1958), Dallapiccola’s Il prigioniero (1961), Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten (1965), Britten’s ...
(b Verona, Nov 4, 1878; d Milan, Oct 12, 1946). Italian playwright, librettist and journalist . After graduating in law at the University of Padua he devoted himself to literature, first as theatre critic of the Arena (Verona), then as playwright. His first stage work was the one-act comedy I fioi di Goldoni in Venetian dialect; thereafter he proved remarkably successful in a comic-sentimental vein with such plays as Una capanna e il tuo cuore (1913), Capelli bianchi (1915), Felicità Colombo (1935) and its sequel Nonna Felicità (1936). In 1911 he made the acquaintance of Giulio Ricordi, head of the publishing firm, of whom he left a valuable memoir in his Giulio Ricordi e i suoi musicisti (Milan, 1933, 2/1945 as Giulio Ricordi, amico dei musicisti). It was Ricordi who first put him in touch with Puccini, who briefly considered setting his Spanish-derived libretto ...
Lesley A. Wright
(b Paris, June 28, 1823; d Paris, Jan 1900). French playwright and librettist. He studied at the Collège Bourbon (Lycée Condorcet) and began his career as a dramatist with Le fils du bonnetier (1841), a vaudeville written with Ludger Berton. For the next decade, however, he was employed in business and on the editorial staff of the daily newspaper Le corsaire (1847–9). He began writing more vaudevilles and comedies in the 1850s, usually in collaboration with others. He was a member of the Société des Gens de Lettres and secretary of the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques.
From 1856 onwards Adenis, in collaboration or alone, produced the librettos for more than two dozen opéras comiques, opérettes and opéras. He worked with Bizet, also a good friend, and with Guiraud and Massenet early in their careers. Contemporary critics occasionally judged his work harshly but he seems to have been generally regarded as competent and dependable, if unoriginal. His sons Eugène and Édouard also wrote plays and librettos; their work is sometimes confused with that of their father....
(b Erpent, Namur, July 17, 1833; d London, Feb 2, 1875). Belgian bass and composer. He studied in Brussels where his opera Hermold le Normand was performed at the Théâtre de la Monnaie on 16 March 1858. After a period of study in Paris he toured Germany and the Netherlands with Merelli’s Italian company, then in ...
(b Bilbao, Aug 10, 1838; d Mendoza, Argentina, July 19, 1901). Spanish composer. He studied in Madrid, Paris, and then Milan, where he was a pupil of Lauro Rossi. He held conducting posts in Bilbao and Madrid before settling in Buenos Aires in 1876, where he conducted at the Teatro de la Opera. He sometimes acted as impresario, and his final appointment was as director of the National Conservatory of Music.
Most of Aguirre’s music is lost, including the opera Gli amanti di Teruel (first performed at the Teatro Principal in Valencia on 16 December 1865). With an Italian text (by Rosario Zapater) and cast with Italian singers, the opera reflected the domination of Italian opera in Spain at the time. It was favourably received in the press, but comparisons made with Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti suggest it was of no great originality. Aguirre wrote two other operas, ...
James P. Cassaro
(b New York, Sept 7, 1924). American composer. He studied at the Juilliard School (where he later taught) with Persichetti, Bernard Wagenaar, and Robert Ward. In 1970 he was appointed chairman of the music department at William Paterson College in Wayne, New Jersey, where he became professor of music in 1973.
With firm musical principles rooted in Classical models, Aitken uses various effects to produce what he considers to be appropriate moods for his works. His style can be characterized as conservative and neoclassical, with rich polyphonic textures reminiscent of Hindemith, although more lyrical. His style is best demonstrated in works such as the Aspen Concerto (1989) and the Violin Concerto (1986), the first of which emphasizes line and development, while the second employs long, angular melodies that are tossed between soloist and orchestra. Later works like Songs and Caprices (2001) are not harmonically adventurous, but use popular and international styles as inspiration. The percussion writing in this work is perhaps its most striking feature. Like Stravinsky and Charles Wuorinen, Aitken has looked to earlier music as an inspiration for several of his works. In ...
(b Pesaro, Nov 30, 1748; d Warsaw, March 27, 1812). Polish composer of Italian birth . He was known as an aria composer and ‘young virtuoso’ in 1777. Later he was conductor at Prince Karol Radziwiłł’s residence at Nieśwież, and from 1782 maître de chapelle at King Stanisław August Poniatowski’s court in Warsaw. In 1796 he went to Rome, and in autumn 1803 was back in Poland, where he spent the rest of his life. He is principally known for his opera Don Juan albo Ukarany libertyn (‘Don Juan, or The Rake Punished’), believed to have been performed in Warsaw with an Italian text by G. Bertati in 1780–81; in 1783 it was performed in Polish, and it was later twice revised by Albertini for performances in 1790 and 1803.
Rudolf A. Rasch
(b Amsterdam, Nov 16, 1664; d Batavia, Dutch East Indies, Oct 4, 1721). Netherlands poet and playwright . Born into a wealthy family, he studied law in Leiden and Utrecht. He was one of the most important and prolific Netherlands poets and playwrights of the decades around 1700, although his works are now little esteemed. He wrote numerous song texts, as well as librettos for ...