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Article

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 ...

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

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

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 ...

Article

Walter Starkie

revised by Charles Fox and Alyn Shipton

[Federico]

(b Manila, Dec 12, 1907; d Manila, Jan 16, 1979). Filipino bandleader, pianist, conductor and composer of Spanish parentage. He studied at the Madrid Conservatory, with, among others, Trago and Perez Casas. In 1921 he went to England for two years' study at St Joseph's College, London, and later entered Stanford University, California, where his parents intended him to study law. However, under the influence of Bloch, with whom he had composition lessons, he left in 1926 to give his attention to music. At this point his fascination for jazz and dance music began, and he led the Stanford University Band for a season at the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, while continuing formal composition studies. After cutting his first discs with his Cinderella Roof Orchestra in Hollywood, he returned to England to read law at Cambridge University (where his brother, the saxophonist Manuel (Lizz) Elizalde, was also a student) in ...

Article

(b Vienna, Oct 20, 1853; d New York, Sept 13, 1914). American composer and conductor of Austrian birth. He received his musical education in his native city, where he reportedly studied with Jacques Offenbach. He emigrated to the USA in 1882, became conductor at the Thalia Theatre, New York, and began arranging other composers’ works. His own first published score was 1776, a three-act romantic comic opera in German (1884), but his first (and greatest) success was The Passing Show (1894), the earliest of the lavish topical American revues. Englander composed scores for about 55 shows, principally comic operas, writing as many as four a year during the period 1895 to 1904. More than 50 of his songs and a handful of piano pieces (mostly from the shows) were published. Although he was a prolific composer of well-crafted songs and dances, Englander’s thorough grounding in Viennese operetta prevented him from adapting, towards the end of his career, to the Tin Pan Alley and musical comedy styles. The most popular songs in some of his shows were in fact written by other men: for example, ‘Sweet Annie Moore’ (...

Article

Andrew Lamb

[Faster, Otto]

(b Hamburg, Feb 16, 1854; d Hamburg, Jan 11, 1931). German conductor and composer. The son of a journalist, he was educated in Hamburg and studied music with August Herzog (1870–72). He began a career in business, but from 1880 was active as conductor and composer of waltzes, polkas, and other dances and marches. His waltz ...

Article

(b London, Nov 4, 1872; d London, April 21, 1939). British conductor and composer. He first studied with his father, a Dutch immigrant who, as Louis von der Finck, was a theatre violinist, conductor and composer in London. Herman Finck began to play the violin in theatre orchestras at 14, studied with Henry Gadsby, entered the Guildhall School of Music at 16 (his compositions there included violin sonatas) and learnt theatre orchestration from Edward Solomon. At the Palace Theatre of Varieties Finck was a pianist and violinist (from 1892), a leader and sub-conductor to Alfred Plumpton (from 1896) and a conductor (from 1900). In 1919 he moved to the Queen’s Theatre, and in 1922–31 was musical director at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, where he conducted the London premières of romantic musicals such as Rudolf Friml’s Rose Marie. From 1933 he conducted the Sunday night concerts at Southport. His memoirs were published in ...

Article

J.G. Prod’homme

revised by Andrew Lamb

(b Buxières-les-Mines, April 5, 1862; d Paris, July 14, 1923). French composer and conductor. He was a pupil of Dubois and Franck at the Conservatoire, where he won a first prize in harmony and an organ prize. He made his début as a composer with a ballet-divertissement, Les sources du Nil, given in 1882 at the Folies Bergère (the first of several given there or at the Casino de Paris). His most important ballet is Phryné; he also composed several operettas, notably Les saltimbanques (Paris, 1899) and Hans, le joueur de flûte (Monte Carlo, 1906). Ganne conducted the orchestra for the balls at the Opéra, and was for many years musical director at the casino at Monte Carlo. He wrote more than 200 works, including songs, salon pieces and some excellent dance tunes such as the Valse des blondes and the mazurkas La czarine and La tzigane...

Article

(Romualdo)

(b Tudela, Feb 7, 1822; d Madrid, March 18, 1870). Spanish composer and conductor. Orphaned at an early age, he became a choirboy at Tudela Cathedral in 1830 and studied there with Rubla. In 1834 he was a pupil of Guelbenzu at Pamplona and in 1842 entered the Madrid Conservatory to study the piano with Pedro Albéniz y Basanta and composition with Ramón Carnicer. In 1845 the Italian company at the Teatro de la S Cruz in Madrid made him the director of its chorus. In 1846 he went to Paris as conductor of a ballet company, but in 1848 returned to Madrid as director of the Teatro Español, where his first zarzuela, La mensajera, had its première in December 1849. This began a series of successes for Gaztambide as a conductor of opera and zarzuela companies in Madrid. For several seasons he conducted operas at the Teatro Real, and he directed the first performance in Spanish of Meyerbeer’s ...

Article

Alfred Loewenberg

revised by Andrew Lamb

(b Danzig [Gdańsk], Feb 7, 1823; d Baden, nr Vienna, June 15, 1895). German conductor, librettist and composer. He was the son of Friedrich Genée (b Königsberg, 1796; d Berlin, 1859), conductor at a theatre in Danzig, and, although first intended for the medical profession, took up music, studying with A. Stahlknecht in Berlin. Between 1847 and 1867 he was successively Kapellmeister at theatres at Reval (now Tallinn), Riga, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Danzig, Mainz, Schwerin and Prague. In 1868 he became conductor at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna, and in the following years was increasingly involved with not just the musical but also the literary side of the works produced there. At first concerned with adapting foreign works for production, he became much in demand as a clever writer of operetta librettos. This side of his activities developed particularly through his association with Johann Strauss (ii) who, being unfamiliar with writing for the theatre, used Genée not just as a lyricist but for the detailed working out of his melodic ideas. Thus Genée’s handwriting is to be found extensively in the autograph score of ...

Article

Geraldo  

Alyn Shipton

[Bright, Gerald W.]

(b London, Aug 10, 1903; d Vevey, May 4, 1974). English band-leader. He studied the piano at the RAM; after working as a cinema pianist and restaurant organist he led the resident band at the Hotel Majestic, St Anne's-on-Sea, for almost five years during the late 1920s and made frequent broadcasts. He led the Gaucho Tango Band at the Savoy Hotel (1930–37) and in 1933 formed a dance orchestra into which he introduced some good jazz soloists and which gave a short series of Sunday Night Swing Club Concerts at St Martin's Theatre (1939). In 1940 he left the Savoy to tour, became supervisor of the Entertainments National Services Association Band Division and played in the Middle East, North Africa and Italy, strengthening his band throughout the war (unlike most leaders). From then until the mid-1950s he was the leading dance-band leader in Britain, showing an adventurous sense for current idioms. In parallel with his bandleading, Geraldo ran a theatrical booking agency from the late 1940s. Among his contracts was the supply of bands to North Atlantic passenger liners, and his musicians became known as ‘Geraldo's Navy’. He gave up bandleading in the late 1950s, but occasionally re-formed his band for concerts and broadcasts. He continued his management activities and for a time was music director of Scottish Television....

Article

Alyn Shipton

[‘Gibby’]

(b Clinton, MA, Jan 4, 1903; d London, May 10, 1954). American pianist, bandleader and composer, active in Britain. He played the piano as a child, appearing in public aged ten, and going on to attend the New England Conservatory. In 1924 he came to Britain to study the piano at the RAM, but he soon took up an alternative career in dance music, playing with the Boston Orchestra at the Berkeley Hotel. He led the Sylvians at the Savoy in 1926, taking over leadership of the hotel’s popular Orpheans orchestra from Debroy Somers in 1927, but disbanding it the following year. He became a musical director for the Gramophone Company (1928–9), for whom he led the New Mayfair Orchestra, recording prolifically and providing accompaniments for almost all the popular singers and variety turns recorded by the company. In 1929 he worked for the British and Dominion Film Company as a musical director, spending most of ...