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Howard Goldstein

[Wells, Julia Elizabeth]

(b Walton-on-Thames, Oct 1, 1935). English singer and actress. Her prodigious talents as singer and dancer were recognized early on by her mother (Barbara Morris Wells, a pianist), and stepfather (Ted Andrews, a Canadian vaudeville performer). After vocal lessons with Lilian Stiles-Allen and sporadic appearances in her parents' act, she made her solo début at the age of 12 in the Starlight Roof revue (1947), singing ‘Je suis Titania’ from Ambroise Thomas' Mignon. She repeated this feat at the Royal Command Performance of 1948.

Following engagements on BBC radio (‘Educating Archie’, 1950–52) and in Christmas pantomimes, she was asked to play the female lead in the Broadway production of Sandy Wilson's West End musical The Boy Friend (1954). This led to her portrayal on Broadway of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (1956), a role she repeated in London in 1958...

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Philip L. Scowcroft

(b March 26, 1874; d Marlow, Bucks., Dec 14, 1948). English composer and conductor. He studied composition at the GSM with MacCunn and then pursued a career in London's West End, latterly as a musical director, especially at the Playhouse, Winter Garden, Alhambra, Shaftesbury and Adelphi theatres. He subsequently worked for the BBC from 1926 to 1930. Drawing on his theatrical background he composed incidental music and also operettas, of which The King's Bride, Violette and especially the well-characterized Medorah achieved modest success.

He was also adept at writing colourful, attractively scored and melodious suites and single movements. Some of these showed a fondness for Ireland, the country which also inspired his Overture to an Irish Comedy. Others sought to explore fresh ideas in the light concert suite, a common genre in the first half of the 20th century, as in his Mediterranean Suite (three dance movements representing Spain, Italy and France) and ...

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(b Stratford-upon-Avon, June 27, 1963). English popular singer. He studied at the Guildford School of Acting before touring in Godspell, later gaining a leading role in the Manchester production of The New Pirates of Penzance. He created the role of Marius in the long-running Les misérables (1985) in London, introducing the song ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’, and took over Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera. He played Alex in Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love in London (1989) and on Broadway (1990), and so introduced ‘Love changes everything’, which was arranged to demonstrate Ball’s full-bodied top range. The popular success of the number enabled his expansion into the popular field and into concert tours. In 1991 he released his first solo album and the following year represented the UK in the Eurovision song contest with One Step Out of Time. His concert repertory has become increasingly wide, and he performed on his ...

Article

Alyn Shipton

(b Leeds, Nov 11, 1913; d Clacton, May 6, 1993). English dance bandleader, saxophonist, pianist and singer. She was a child prodigy as a pianist, broadcasting on ‘Children’s Hour’ in 1922, and playing frequently in public. She took up the clarinet and saxophone in her teens, and in 1929 joined her first all-female band, led by Edna Croudson. After some years with Croudson, she came to London and in 1937 played in female orchestras directed by Teddy Joyce, becoming leader of his Girl Friends. In 1940, after leading small groups of her own, she formed a nine-piece band for the revue Meet the Girls, which had an entirely female cast. For the rest of her career Benson led an all-female band, variously called her Rhythm Girl Band, her Ladies’ Dance Orchestra and her Showband. She broadcast frequently during World War II and afterwards, and toured internationally for the Entertainments National Servicemen’s Association from the 1940s onwards. In the 1940s she mainly played in a jazz-influenced swing style, but later often added a string section to play dance music in the manner of Victor Sylvester or Mantovani....

Article

Karen Monson

[Rosenbaum, Borge]

(b Copenhagen, Jan 3, 1909; d Greenwich, CT, Dec 23, 2000). American pianist, musical humorist and conductor of Danish birth. After early training with his father, he gave a piano recital at the age of eight in Copenhagen, which won for him a scholarship to the conservatory; he later studied with Frederic Lamond and Egon Petri in Berlin. He performed in amateur musical revues in Copenhagen, but his satires of Hitler placed him in danger and he fled, first to Sweden and then to the USA, where he later became a citizen. In New York in 1940 he began regularly to appear on Bing Crosby’s ‘Kraft Music Hall’ radio series, which led to a radio show of his own. Starting in the autumn of 1953 he gave nearly 850 daily recitals under the title ‘Comedy in Music’ at the Golden Theater on Broadway. He toured in many parts of the world and appeared widely on radio and television and in films. His routines (which were partly improvised) were a mixture of verbal and musical humour, delivered at the piano; though his comic reputation was based on his continually forestalling and interrupting his own playing, he was an accomplished performer, as his elaborate musical jokes (such as the composite piano concerto consisting of well-known passages from the repertory skilfully run together) demonstrated....

Article

Ray Pallett

(b Laurenço Marques [now Maputo], Jan 7, 1899; d London, April 17, 1941). British popular singer. His father was Greek, his mother was Lebanese. Bowlly was brought up in South Africa and joined Edgar Adeler’s leading dance band in 1922, touring South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, East Africa and the Far East. He left Adeler in 1924 and took up a residency at Raffles Hotel, Singapore. In 1927 he went to Germany and made his first recording, Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies. A prestigious engagement lasting one year followed at the Savoy Hotel, London, with the bandleader Fred Elizalde. He had a major break in 1930 when he joined a recording studio band led by Ray Noble, with whom he made the original versions of songs which have become standards. These, all by Noble, included The Very Thought of You, Love is the Sweetest Thing, The Touch of your Lips...

Article

Robert Howie

(Walter John)

(b Helensburgh, April 2, 1890; d London, Oct 20, 1957). Scottish actor, producer and director. After a disastrous début as a comic in music hall in Glasgow, he danced in West End musicals until he understudied, then replaced, Jack Hulbert in Tonight’s the Night (1915–17), in which he sang Kern’s ‘They didn’t believe me’. He established himself as a leading man, particularly in the revues of André Charlot, then starred with Gertrude Lawrence in A to Z (1921), introducing Ivor Novello’s ‘And her mother came too’. He also scored success in New York in two editions of Charlot’s London Revue (1924 and 1925). An ambitious and astute businessman, he produced Battling Butler (1922) as a vehicle for himself, and in 1926 brought Kern’s Sunny to the London Hippodrome, which became the home to a series of Buchanan productions. With Elsie Randolph he appeared in ...

Article

Mark Brill

(Auguste)

(b Ménilmontant, Sep 12, 1888; d Paris, Jan 1, 1972). French singer and actor. He left school at 11 to become an electrician and soon thereafter became an acrobat, until an injury forced him to pursue singing and dancing instead. In 1900 he made his début at the Café des Trois Lions as a singer and comedian. His song-and-dance routines made him popular at local cafés and music halls where he was known as ‘Le Petit Chevalier’. Through a three-year contract at the Folies Bergères, where he began a ten-year partnership both on and off stage with the star Mistinguett, he developed the sophisticated and charismatic persona that was to make him popular on stage and in film. He learned English from a fellow POW during WWI, after which he successfully resumed his music-hall career and appeared in silent films and theatrical productions. His trademark straw hat, bow tie and cane complemented the elegant grace and joie de vivre that would come to personify French charm and sophistication. The advent of sound film allowed his charisma and talent to come through, and in ...

Article

Geoffrey Self

(b Hucknall, Aug 27, 1886; d Chichester, Dec 23, 1957). English viola player and composer. He studied violin with Georg Ellenberger and harmony with Ralph Horner, but changed to the viola, for which he found a greater demand in Nottingham. Entering the RAM in 1906, he expected viola to be his main study and was indeed placed with Tertis, but the principal, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, had admired his submitted songs and allocated him to Corder for composition. Coates rapidly came to the forefront of viola players, playing for the Beecham SO and Wood's Queen's Hall Orchestra, of which he was principal viola 1912–19. Chronic neuritis plagued him and in 1919, after Wood dismissed him, he never played again.

His composing reputation had been made early by such songs as Stonecracker John (1909) and by Wood's performance of the Miniature Suite at the 1911 Proms. Thereafter he produced a steady stream of orchestral suites, phantasies, marches and waltzes together with some 160 songs, the last march being completed in ...

Article

Geoffrey Block

[Kaufman, Seymour]

(b New York, June 14, 1929; d New York, Nov 18, 2004). American composer and pianist. The son of Russian immigrants, he began to play the piano at the age of four, and performed recitals at the Steinway and Carnegie halls by seven. He studied counterpoint and orchestration at the New York College of Music and developed a serious interest in jazz, within a few years performing in New York nightclubs with his trio and starting a long recording career as a jazz pianist. A collaboration with the lyricist Joseph Allan McCarthy yielded several song hits between 1952 and 1956, including Why try to change me now?, I'm gonna laugh you right out of my life and Tin Pan Alley, the last of which appeared in Coleman's first Broadway venture, the revue John Murray Anderson's Almanac (1953). By the late 1950s he had produced an impressive list of song standards with lyricist Carolyn Leigh, which included ...

Article

Alyn Shipton

[William]

(b London, May 6, 1899; d Wembley, March 25, 1969). English bandleader, drummer and entrepreneur. His father was a bandmaster and he was a chorister at St Margaret’s, Westminster, before joining the 2nd Battalion, City of London Regiment as a drummer boy. Cotton was later commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps. From 1922 he worked in dance bands in London and Brighton and co-led the San Prado Band at the 1924 Wembley British Empire Exhibition. He made his first broadcast the same year. He formed his own London Savannah band, playing first in Brighton and later in Southport (from 1925), and by acquiring music for US dances from liners docking in Liverpool, he helped introduce such music to Britain, including the Black Bottom. The band with which he played at the Astoria Hotel, London (1927), contained a nucleus of musicians (most notably the pianist Clem Bernard) who stayed with him for many of his subsequent performances, at Ciro’s club in London and Paris (...

Article

Raoul F. Camus

(b Naples, Italy, June 21, 1871; d New York, Aug 15, 1952). American conductor, impresario, and composer of Italian origin. He studied music at the conservatory in Naples, and by the age of 17 was conductor of the city’s municipal band. He left this position after eight years to play trombone in another band during its American tour. Encouraged by the wealth of performing opportunities in the USA, he recruited 40 musicians during a trip to Italy in 1902, and then traveled with them to New York, where the band’s opening concert was well received. In the next few years he toured the USA and Canada. He appeared on the Chautauqua circuit from 1910 to 1916. While pursuing his band activities, he organized an opera company in 1918 that continued for five years. The Depression brought about a decline in professional bands, and in 1936 he became conductor of the New York City Symphonic Orchestra, formed under the auspices of the WPA. A year later he became bandmaster of the New York State Symphonic Band, also a WPA group. In ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Cugat Mingall de Brú y Denolfeo, Francisco de Asís Javier]

(b Gerona, Jan 1, 1900; d Barcelona, Oct 27, 1990). Spanish bandleader, violinist and arranger, active in America. Cugat’s family moved to Cuba when he was five. A child prodigy, he was playing the violin in Havana cafés by the age of seven or eight, and later studied formally in Berlin and peformed with the Berlin PO. He arrived in New York City in 1921 and formed a tango orchestra, and then moved to Hollywood, taking up a life-long hobby as caricaturist before returning to New York with a contract at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1930. Despite his European origins, Cugat became the most commercially famous name in Latin music during the 1930s and 40s, especially among non-Latino North Americans, and his Latin orchestra remained resident at the Waldorf Astoria through the next decade.

Cugat did not pretend to perform authentic Latin American music, yet his lush orchestral arrangements helped popularize Cuban and other Latin American sounds in mainstream North America, earning him the title of the ‘King of the Rhumba’. Among his most famous recordings are ...

Article

Philip L. Scowcroft

(b London, Sept 4, 1899; d Bournemouth, Dec 6, 1973). English composer, organist and conductor. He showed precocious ability on the violin, cello, piano and organ and as a conductor; by the age of 20 he had gained experience in London theatres and cinemas and later was the organist at the Shepherd’s Bush Pavilion. He became head of Boosey & Hawkes’s Light Music department. His compositions included ballad-type songs, piano miniatures, music for film and radio, and he occasionally wrote for the theatre.

He is best remembered, however, for his orchestral works. These have a characteristic sparkle, even whimsicality, displayed in titles like Dance of an Ostracised Imp, The Boulevardier and the overture Punchinello, all of which achieved great popularity. Apart from these single-movement works Curzon also contributed significantly to the repertory of the light concert suite: his Robin Hood Suite ends with a memorable march in the manner of Eric Coates. Much of his work displays Spanish or Hungarian colour, although he never visited either country, and several movements show a gift for period pastiche. His orchestration is imaginative: accordion and harp join with woodwind and strings in ...

Article

Alyn Shipton

[Joseph ]

(b Zeerust, South Africa, March 9, 1909; d Northwood, July 2, 1993). South African jazz drummer and bandleader, active in Britain. He arrived in England aged two, and began playing drums in public at 13. Three years later he played on numerous transatlantic crossings in ships’ bands for Cunard liners, before returning to London to play with the trumpeter Max Goldberg (1926). Daniels assumed leadership of that band, but Goldberg continued to play regularly for him (1926–7) and in Daniels’s later groups. Daniels played in bands led by Al Tabor (1927), Billy Mason (1929) and Harry Roy (1929–32, 1932–7). While in Roy’s band, Daniels formed a recording band, his Hotshots, in June 1935. He led this band full time from 1937, and became recognized as the leading drum virtuoso in British jazz, exemplified by recordings such as Crashing Through...

Article

Paul Webb

[Dones, Phyllis Haddie]

(b London, Aug 15, 1890; d Brighton, April 27, 1975). English soprano. After a precocious beginning as a schoolgirl in Bluebell in Fairyland at the Vaudeville Theatre (1901), she went on to make her name in The Belle of Mayfair at the same theatre (1906), replacing its original star, Edna May, who left abruptly after a dispute with the management. Dare subsequently also took over from Gertie Millar in The Quaker Girl, but her biggest success was in The Arcadians (1909), the most popular English musical of the pre-War era. In this she introduced the song ‘The Girl with a Brogue’, demonstrating that she could project her personality as well as do justice to the music. Although she sang in American musicals, most notably in Kern’s Music in the Air (1934), she was happiest in English shows, however Ruritanian the setting, and was brought back from retirement to play the king’s mistress in Ivor Novello’s ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Minsk, April 17, 1883; d London, June 2, 1947). British composer and bandleader. His father, Eduard Darewski, was a Polish singing professor. Herman Darewski was educated in London and studied music in Vienna (1897–1900). After his first successful songs he joined the publishers Francis, Day & Hunter (1906), for whom he wrote music hall, pantomime and musical comedy songs, including Sister Susie's sewing shirts for soldiers (1914). He composed a series of successful revues, his style concentrating on light, undemanding and rhythmically engaging songs. In 1919 he formed a publishing company, which was short-lived, and a successful band in the style of the American dance bands then in vogue. He became musical director at the resorts of Bridlington (1924–6, 1933–9) and Blackpool (1927–30) and at a London cinema (1930–32). His brother Max Darewski (1894–1929...

Article

Simon Collier

(b Buenos Aires, Dec 11, 1899; d Mar del Plata, Mar 11, 1980). Argentine tango violinist, bandleader and composer. The son of an Italian immigrant proprietor of a private conservatory in Buenos Aires, he served his apprenticeship in tango bands such as those of Eduardo Arolas (1918–19) and Osvaldo Fresedo (1919–20). In 1923 he formed his first sextet, which included his brothers Francisco (piano) and Emilio (second violin). The band remained a sextet until 1930, after which it enlarged to between 10 and 14 instrumentalists; and this remained its standard size until De Caro’s retirement (1954). One of the best-loved dance bands of the tango’s ‘Golden Age’ (1920–50), it made successful trips to Brazil (1927), Italy and France (1931) and Chile (1937). With its clarity, meticulous phrasing, careful instrumental balance and sophisticated arrangements, it pioneered the ‘evolutionist’ trend in tango music, contrasting with the ‘traditionalist’ tendency favoured by more conservative bandleaders. Like his brother Francisco, De Caro was an expert arranger and composer who made notable contributions to the tango repertory. His autobiography was published as ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Graslitz [now Kraslice], Bohemia, July 8, 1857; d Dresden, Sept 24, 1910). German composer and conductor. The son of a woodwind instrument maker, he attended the music school in Graslitz for three years and then (1874 to 1879) studied the clarinet with Julius Pisařowitz at the Prague Conservatory. In 1880 he became theatre conductor in Brno and was subsequently at various other German theatres before he went to the Carl Schultze-Theater in Hamburg in 1883. There he met the singer Anna Maria Eppich (1864–1919), whom he married in 1886 after the wide success of his first operetta Don Cesar; this work, which used the same story as Wallace’s Maritana, was performed throughout Germany and Austria and as far afield as the USA. In 1893 Dellinger became chief conductor at the Residenz-Theater in Dresden, where further operettas by him were produced with limited success. In later years he suffered from financial worries and consequent overwork, and in ...

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Patrick O’Connor

[Maria Magdalene]

(b Weimar, Dec 27, 1901; d Paris, May 6, 1992). American actress and singer of German birth. She studied the violin and piano first in Weimar then later at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, but abandoned a career as a violinist to go on the stage, partly because of a wrist injury. After work as a chorus dancer and playing small parts, she entered Max Reinhardt’s theatre school. In 1928 the composer Mischa Spoliansky cast her in a major role in his musical Es liegt in der Luft, in which she sang her first recorded song, ‘Wenn die beste Freundin’. The following year Spoliansky’s Zwei Kravatten brought her to the attention of the Austrian-American film director Josef von Sternberg who cast her as the cabaret singer Lola-Lola in Der blaue Engel, for which she sang four songs by Friedrich Hollaender, including ‘Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss aus Liebe eingestellt’ (‘Falling in Love Again’). Sternberg made six films with her in Hollywood (...