(b Milan, June 26, 1933; d Bologna, Jan 20, 2014). Italian conductor. Son of the violinist and teacher Michelangelo Abbado, he heard Debussy’s Nocturnes as a small boy and immediately had the ambition to become a conductor. Soon after the war he attended rehearsals by Furtwängler and Toscanini in Milan; his quiet, undemonstrative manner on the podium derives in part from his aversion to the dictatorial approach he witnessed in Toscanini. He first learnt the piano with his father, and studied at the Milan Conservatory until 1955, before going to the Vienna Music Academy to study conducting with Hans Swarowsky. In 1958 he won the Koussevitzky Competition, and a series of concert and operatic engagements in Italy followed. His career was further boosted when he won the Mitropoulos Prize in 1963 and worked for five months with the New York PO. His international success was rapid, and led to his first appearances at the Salzburg Festival in ...
(b Milan, Dec 30, 1954). Italian conductor. He studied at the conservatories in Pesaro and Milan, and with Franco Ferrara in Rome. He made his conducting début with the orchestra of the Accademia di S Cecilia in 1977, and his operatic début, with Simon Boccanegra, in Macerata the following year. His career developed with guest appearances in leading Italian opera houses and regular collaborations with orchestras in Italy, France, Germany and the USA, where he made his début (with the Orchestra of St Luke’s) in 1991. He has also conducted at the Edinburgh Festival (1982) and at festivals in Israel, Lille and Munich. In 1991 Abbado was appointed chief conductor of the Munich RO, a post he held until 1998. Meanwhile, he has consolidated his operatic career with guest engagements at La Scala, the Vienna Staatsoper, the Staatsoper in Munich (making his début with a new production of ...
J. Michele Edwards
(b Tokyo, April 18, 1937). Japanese marimba player and composer. After xylophone study with Eiichi Asabuki (1950–59), she earned two degrees from Tokyo Gakugei University, studying composition with Shosuke Ariga and Toshio Kashiwagi as well as percussion with Masao Imamura and Yusuke Oyake. An active professional performer since 1960, she has toured extensively in Europe, North America and Asia with annual recital tours since 1981. Through development of new technical skills and by expanding the repertory with over 70 commissions, she has contributed significantly to the status of marimba music, for which she was honoured by induction into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1993. After a decade of studio work and orchestral playing, she studied the performances of jazz artists such as Milt Jackson and Lionel Hampton in order to develop her own personal style of improvisation as a creative source for composition. Technically challenging yet idiomatic for the marimba, her works generally begin with improvisation and are later notated. Her compositions include wide dynamic ranges, techniques borrowed from folk music traditions and careful voicing of chords. Using four- and sometimes six-mallet technique, she often combines a melodic line with an impressionistic background of rhythmic patterns. Her performances of her compositions and those of other Japanese composers have been very influential on developments in the USA, especially since ...
(b Port Chester, NY, Dec 16, 1944; d Cortlandt Manor, NY, Aug 22, 2017). American jazz guitarist, composer, and bandleader. He grew up in Greenwich, CT, and began playing guitar at the age of 14. He was primarily self taught until he studied at the Berklee College of Music (1962–6) and with Jack Petersen. Abercrombie joined Johnny Hammond’s touring band after the blues organist had spotted him performing with other Berklee students at Paul’s Mall in Boston. After studying briefly at the University of North Texas, in 1969 he moved to New York where he performed and recorded in Billy Cobham’s jazz-rock band Dreams (1970), joined Chico Hamilton’s group, and recorded with Gato Barbieri (1971), Barry Miles (1972), and Gil Evans (1974). Abercrombie attracted wider attention performing with Cobham’s fusion band Spectrum from 1974. He also toured with Jack DeJohnette and recorded his debut album, ...
(b Yerevan, March 8, 1932). Armenian cellist and teacher. She studied first at the Yerevan Central Music School (where her teachers were K. Khizanov and L. Grigoryan) and then with Grigoryan at the Komitas Conservatory in Yerevan (1950–53). She continued her studies with Rostropovich at the Moscow Conservatory (1953–6) and became a laureate of the H. Wihan International Cello Competition (1955). In 1956 she made her début as a soloist with the Armenian PO, and has performed regularly with the orchestra since then. In 1960 she became professor of cello at the Yerevan Conservatory. She has performed widely in Russia, the USA, Canada and Western Europe, as a soloist and during numerous festivals, specializing in 20th-century works, notably those by Armenian composers. She has given premières of some 100 works, a number of which are dedicated to her. Her playing is distinguished by refinement of intonation, a broad range of colour and a strong dramatic impetus....
[Abrams, Richard Louis]
(b Chicago, IL, Sept 19, 1930; d New York, Oct 29, 2017). American pianist, composer, and administrator. After receiving private piano lessons, he studied at the Chicago Musical College and taught himself the system of composition devised by Joseph Schillinger. He began to work professionally in 1948 and performed regularly at the Cotton Club in Chicago during the 1950s, accompanying visiting musicians such as Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt, and Max Roach. After composing and arranging for the Walter “King” Fleming band in the mid-1950s, Abrams joined the hard bop ensemble MJT+3 and made his recording debut on the group’s album DADDY-O PRESENTS MJT+3 (1957, VJ 1013). Beginning in 1961 Abrams led the Experimental Band, a composer-centered rehearsal ensemble whose members included the double bass player Donald Rafael Garrett, Jack DeJohnette, Roscoe Mitchell, and the reed player Joseph Jarman. He subsequently co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians...
(b Havana, Cuba, Feb 26, 1942). Cuban-American guitarist, composer, arranger, and educator; immigrated to the United States and naturalized in 1975. He studied piano and composition at the Conservatorio Orbón in Havana, and guitar under Héctor García and Julian Bream. Abril participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion (1961) and was consequently incarcerated for twenty-two months in Cuba. Returning to the United States, he established a performing and recording career as a classical guitarist, whose arrangements for the instrument have been published worldwide. He holds the PhD degree in music theory from Florida State University.
A series of medical issues with his hands during the 1980s subsequently redirected his focus to composition. Rejecting atonality and traditional developmental procedures in his early works, Abril cultivated a compositional style characterized by tonal and often polytonal harmony and linear writing. Although not a folklorist, he shows an affinity for Cuban musical culture, particularly in the rhythmic component. His compositions include ...
(b Honolulu, HI, August 13, 1958). American recording artist and performer of Filipino descent. A Filipino American artist, she grew up in National City, CA, and excelled at piano, violin, and percussion during her childhood. While an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, she played keyboards in various Los Angeles jazz clubs and attracted the attention of Quincy Jones. Having been introduced to traditional Philippine music by Bayani de Leon, she studied kulintang (gong-chime) with Aga Mayo Butocan. The influence of Philippine music may be heard on her first album Adventure (Japan Sony/Epic, 1987), which was released in the United States as Jungle Wave (CBS, 1987). Her single “Adventure” reached number one on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play Charts in 1988. In the same year Academia received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to found the World Kulintang Institute and Research Studies Center; the institute released the album ...
(b Turin, Sept 26, 1941). Italian violinist and conductor. He studied the violin with Luigi d’Ambrosio at the Naples Conservatory, took the diploma in 1956 and a postgraduate course with Yvonne Astruc at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena. He won the international competitions at Vercelli (1955) and Geneva (1956), and in 1958 both the RAI Spring Trophy and the Premio Paganini international violin competition at Genoa. He toured throughout Europe and North and South America and soon became one of the best-known and most admired Italian violinists of his generation. An instinctive player with an easy, agile and brilliant technique, he is an all-round musician with a repertory ranging from Vivaldi and Bach to contemporary composers, many of whom have written works for him, including Franco Donatoni (Argot for solo violin, 1979) and Xenakis (Dikhtas, 1980). He is considered a fine interpreter of Paganini (whose 24 capriccios and six concertos he has recorded). Accardo has developed an interest in chamber music and is one of the organizers of the ensemble music week held at Naples each year; in ...
(b Bilbao, Spain, Nov 1, 1932). Spanish pianist, active in the United States. He began music studies at an early age at the Bilbao Conservatory and later studied with Nikita Magaloff, Walter Gieseking and Bruno Seidlhofer. After winning awards and international competitions in France, Italy, and Switzerland during his years as a student, Achucarro scored a triumph at the 1959 Liverpool International Piano Concerto Competition. This led to his debut with the London SO, marking the beginning of an extensive career as concert performer that has taken him to over sixty countries where he has performed with over two hundred orchestras, including the Berlin PO, London PO, Tokyo PO, Sydney SO, and La Scala PO. Achucarro made his US debut in 1968 with the Chicago SO under Seiji Ozawa. Since then, Achucarro has performed frequently in recitals and concerts with the premiere American orchestras. Since 1989, Achucarro has held the Joel Estes Chair at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He also teaches master classes at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana of Siena while continuing to maintain a full touring schedule....
(b Sibiu, Nov 3, 1940; d Munich, May 27, 2006). German composer of Romanian birth. He studied the piano, the organ and theory privately with Franz Xaver Dressler in Sibiu (1950–58). From 1959 to 1964 he studied composition with Toduta at the Cluj Academy of Music where, after receiving his diploma, he remained to teach composition and music theory. In 1969 he moved to the Federal Republic of Germany to teach at the Robert Schumann Conservatory, Düsseldorf (1969–72) and attend the Darmstadt summer course (1969). He was appointed to teach theory and composition at the Munich Musikhochschule in 1972, becoming professor of composition there in 1976. His awards included the composition prize of the Prague Spring Festival (1966), the Stuttgart Stamitz prize (1970), the city of Stuttgart composition prize (1971), the Stroud Festival composition prize, the Hitzacker prize (...
(b Dresden, Aug 1, 1926; d Dresden Jan 10, 2019). German bass-baritone. As a boy he was a member of the Dresden Kreuzchor, and he studied in the city and at Weimar before making his début at the Dresden Staatsoper in 1949. He joined the Berlin Staatsoper in 1952. That year he made his début in a small role at Bayreuth, graduating to King Henry in 1954 and to Wotan in 1963; his later roles there included the Dutchman, Amfortas, and Hans Sachs. At the Salzburg Festival he was heard as Ochs (1969) and Wozzeck (1972), and at the Vienna Staatsoper he sang the title role in a new production of Don Giovanni in 1972. Also in Vienna he sang a memorable Pizarro in the Beethoven bicentenary production of Fidelio at the Theater an der Wien in 1970, conducted by Bernstein. His other roles included Philip II, King Mark, and La Roche (...
revised by George Leotsakos
(b Piraeus, May 19, 1929). Greek composer and musicologist. He graduated in theology from Athens University (1954), in neo-Byzantine music (1955) and harmony (1956) from the Piraeus League Conservatory, and in counterpoint, fugue and composition (1959) from the Hellenic Conservatory, where he studied with Yannis A. Papaïannou. At Brandeis University (1962–5) he studied composition (with Arthur Berger), Byzantine music palaeography and electronic music. In 1950 he revived the boys' choir of the Greek Royal Palace, which he directed until 1967. He also established and conducted the Athens Chamber Chorus (1958–61). Between 1961 and 1963 he taught Byzantine music at the Holy Cross Theological Academy, Boston, Massachusetts. In 1965 he established the first electronic music studio in Athens. He was a founder-member (1965) and later president (1975–85) of both the Hellenic Association for Contemporary Music and the Greek section of the ISCM. In ...
(b Kingston, ON, Nov 5, 1959). Canadian rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and photographer. The son of a diplomat, he spent his youth in England, Israel, Portugal, and Austria. After returning with his family to North America, he began performing and recording at the age of 15 with rock bands in British Columbia and Ontario. In 1978 he began what became a long and successful songwriting partnership with Jim Vallance, with whom he created most songs recorded under his name up to 1987, as well as songs recorded by Rod Stewart, Kiss, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Diamond, and the Canadian groups Prism, BTO, and Loverboy.
Adams’ albums characteristically alternate between down-tempo piano ballads and straight-ahead rock numbers. His third solo album, Cuts like a Knife (1983) launched him to the status of an international celebrity; its singles included the ballad “Straight from the Heart” and the anthem “Cuts like a Knife,” which both featured for weeks on magazine charts and music television. The next album, ...
(b Worcester, MA, Feb 15, 1947). American composer and conductor. Known particularly for his operatic works on contemporary subjects, he is considered one of the most frequently performed living composers of concert music.
He studied the clarinet with his father and with Felix Viscuglia, clarinettist with the Boston SO. At the age of ten he began theory and composition lessons, and at 14 he had his first piece performed by the community orchestra with whom he practised conducting. He also performed with the orchestra alongside his father, often appearing before an audience of mentally-handicapped patients at the New Hampshire State Hospital. As a student at Harvard University (1965–71, MA 1972) he studied composition with Leon Kirchner, Earl Kim, Roger Sessions, Harold Shapero and David Del Tredici. During this period he performed occasionally as a clarinettist with the Boston SO.
After moving to San Francisco in 1971...
(b Houston, TX, Aug 27, 1961). American gospel music singer. Adams credits her earliest musical influences as James Cleveland, the Edwin Hawkins Singers, Nancy Wilson, and Stevie Wonder. She worked in a variety of jobs, including stints as a fashion model, television news anchor, and schoolteacher, before devoting herself to gospel music. She began her career as a lead singer touring with the Southeast Inspirational Choir, with whom she garnered the attention of composer/producer Thomas Whitfield who oversaw her debut solo album Just As I Am (1988) with Sound of Gospel Records. Grounded in traditional church music but open to diverse musical influences, Adams is known for infusing traditional gospel with urban musical influences such as jazz, R&B, and hip hop. Her mainstream album Mountain High … Valley Low (Elektra, 1999) is of particular importance in this regard because its diversity of musical styles had the ability to reach both Contemporary Christian and urban music listeners. The album achieved multi-platinum status and went on to earn a Grammy for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album (...
revised by Katie Buehner
(b New York, NY, July 24, 1925). American soprano. Her vocal and musical abilities won her scholarships to Westminster Choir College, Princeton (BM 1946), and the Berkshire Music Center, where she studied with Boris Goldovsky. She made her recital debut at Boston in April 1948 and, after further coaching with Povla Frijsh in New York, appeared at Town Hall in January 1952. This established her reputation and led to engagements with many American orchestras and the New England and New York City Opera companies. She dubbed the title role in Samuel Goldwyn’s film Porgy and Bess (1959). On 23 September 1962 she sang in the inaugural concert at Lincoln Center; she toured the USSR in 1963. The silvery timbre of her voice, her agility, and her distinguished musicianship all made her an ideal performer of Baroque music, as her recordings of Bach (St. Matthew Passion...
(b Springhill, LA, Jan 13, 1962). American country music singer. In line with country “hat acts” and neo-traditionalists such as Toby Keith and Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins has forged a working-class image and hard-driving sound by merging honky-tonk with Southern rock, gospel, and blues. His masculine bravado and allegiance to a blue-collar ethos has solidified his position as one of country’s top acts.
After time spent working on an oil rig, Adkins moved to Nashville in 1992 to pursue his musicalcareer. There he met producer Scott Hendricks, who signed him to Capitol Records. His 1996 debut album, Dreamin’ Out Loud, yielded the successful singles “Every Light in the House,” “I Left Something Turned on at Home,” and “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing,” which became his first number-one country hit. Despite problems with alcoholism and a drunk-driving charge, his 2001 album Chrome reached the top five on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. In ...
(b Mannheim, March 4, 1928). American composer and conductor of German birth. Both of his parents were musical, his father being a cantor and composer of Jewish liturgical music. The family came to the USA in 1939 and Adler attended Boston University (BM 1948) and Harvard University (MA 1950). He studied composition with Aaron Copland, Paul Fromm, Paul Hindemith, Hugo Norden, Walter Piston and Randall Thompson; musicology with Karl Geiringer, A.T. Davison and Paul A. Pisk; and conducting with Sergey Koussevitzky at the Berkshire Music Center. In 1950 he joined the US Army and organized the Seventh Army SO, which he conducted in more than 75 concerts in Germany and Austria; he was awarded the Army Medal of Honor for his musical services. Subsequently he conducted concerts and operas, and lectured extensively throughout Europe and the USA. In 1957 he was appointed professor of composition at North Texas State University, and in ...
(b Moscow, Sept 8, 1947). Russian pianist, conductor, writer and poet. A student of Yakov Zak and Emil Gilels at the Moscow Conservatory (1965–73), he won the 1968 Leipzig Bach Competition, four years later taking the gold medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. After seeking political asylum in Belgium in 1974, he settled in France in 1980, but since 1989 he has returned regularly to his native country for concerts and recordings. Intent on philosophical truths more than absolutes of pianistic finish, placing emotions of the mind and spirit above ‘outward prettiness’, Afanassiev is a provocatively inspirational artist, indebted on his own admission to many of the great individualists of the past: Gilels, Gould, Horowitz, Michelangeli, Rachmaninoff and Sofronitsky all receive tribute in his ‘Homages & Ecstasies’ album (1996). Partial to mono/duographic programming, with a repertory extending from Froberger to Crumb, his extensive discography includes Bach (Book 1 of ...