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Article

Saadalla Agha Al-Kalaa

(b al-Qrayya, Syria, Oct 18, 1915; d Beirut, Dec 26, 1974). Syrian singer, composer, ‘ūd player and film actor and producer. In 1924 political circumstances forced his family to move to Egypt. His mother, the noted singer ‘Aliyya al-Munther, taught him singing in the Syrian style. He studied the ‘ūd (lute) at the Cairo Institute for Arab Music. His professional work began as an ‘ūd player and singer at the national radio station and in Badī ‘a Maṣabnī's variety show saloon.

In 1941, through his sister Asmahān , he entered the cinema industry, and for the rest of his life was involved in films as a composer, singer actor, and producer. His singing of Syrian mawwāl (popular songs), tangos and rumbas achieved great popularity, and his work laid the foundations for Arab variety show films, cinematic operetta, orchestral musical overtures and comic and sad songs. His 31 films are mostly autobiographical and provide valuable insight into the role of the musician in society....

Article

Craig A. Lockard

(b Vienna, Austria, May 2, 1924). American and Israeli actor and singer. Born into a Jewish family, he spent his youth in Austria. Following the Nazi occupation the Bikel family escaped to Palestine, where he made his stage debut in 1943. Moving to London to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he began his acting career in 1948 in A Streetcar Named Desire. In 1954 he immigrated to the United States and, in 1961, became a naturalized American. He made his concert debut at Carnegie Recital Hall, New York, in 1956 with a program of folk songs. In 1959 he was cast as Georg von Trapp in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. During his long career Bikel has appeared in numerous films, plays, and musicals, from the lead in Zorba to over 2000 performances as the penniless milkman Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof...

Article

Hsun Lin

[Bryner, Youl]

(b Sakhalin, Russia, July 11, 1920; d New York, NY, Oct 10, 1985). American actor, singer, and photographer of Russian birth. He spent his early childhood in China and was brought up in Paris, where he sang in clubs before moving to the United States. He was noted for his deep, rich voice and strong stage presence. His Broadway debut came in the musical Lute Song with Mary Martin in 1946, but his best-known character was the King of Siam in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I (1951), for which he won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor. He also played the King in the 1956 film version, which won him an Oscar. Brynner shaved his head for this character and baldness became one of his personal trademarks. He received a Special Tony Award (1985) in honoring his 4525 performances in The King and I...

Article

Colin Mackerras

(b Anhui, Nov 22, 1811; d Beijing, Jan 24, 1880). Chinese opera actor. He went to Beijing early in life and earned a living selling musical instruments before taking up a career on the stage. Although his first public appearance was a failure he later became famous through a brilliant performance at a private banquet attended by many of Beijing’s most eminent citizens. By 1845 he had become the leader of the Sanqing troupe, one of the Four Great Anhui Companies (sida huiban), and retained the position until his death. Although most famous as a laosheng (old male), he could perform dan (female) and xiaosheng (young male) roles as well. Acknowledged by some as the father of Peking opera, he was the leading Peking opera actor of the 19th century, noted for his versatility, having mastered many kinds of Chinese opera music; he founded a style of Peking opera singing known as the ‘Anhui school’, which emphasized ...

Article

Krystyn R. Moon

[Frank Lee; Lee Tung Fook; Lee Sing]

(b Watsonville, CA, 1875; d Los Angeles, CA, May 1, 1966). American singer, vaudevillian, and film actor. Lee was a Chinese American music pioneer who helped to open the vaudeville stage to other Asian American performers. He began to study voice and music theory in 1897, relatively late in life, with Margaret Blake Alverson, a prominent music teacher in the Bay Area. After eight years of studying and performing in local churches, he received his first vaudeville contract to sing at the Empire Theater in Oakland, California in January 1905. For the next 14 years, he toured the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Belgium. Based on theater reviews and correspondence with his music teacher, it is clear that Lee’s act consisted of light operatic and popular songs as well as ethnic send-ups, which included Irish, Scottish, and Chinese caricatures. Of particular significance were his Chinese numbers, in which he made fun of stereotypes of Chinese immigrants and wore elaborate costumes. His Scottish routines, which were based on Harry Lauder’s Highlander caricature, were also popular. With the decline of vaudeville, Lee moved in the late 1920s or early 1930s to Hollywood where he performed minor and walk-on roles in at least 39 films....

Article

Dominique-René de Lerma

(b Baltimore, MD, c1840; d Surabaya [now in Indonesia], 1902). American minstrel-troupe manager. He became one of the most successful African American managers of minstrel groups. In about 1865 he organized the Original Georgia Minstrels, probably named after a 15-member troupe of former slaves called the Georgia Minstrels, established in April of that year by W.H. Lee in Macon. Hicks’s troupe began touring in the Northeast and the West and, within three years, included a 13-piece brass band. In 1870 Hicks and some of his members joined with Sam Hague’s Great American Slave Troupe (formerly Lee’s group) for a tour of the British Isles. In July of the following year there was a disagreement and Hicks returned to the United States. He sold his company to Charles Callender in 1872 but continued to work as its manager. From 1877 to 1880 he toured Australia with a new troupe, also called the Georgia Minstrels. Returning once more to the United States, he worked with various groups including Hicks and Kersands’ Minstrels, McIntosh and A.D. Sawyer’s Colored Minstrels, and Callender’s Minstrels, with whom he presented the Callender Consolidated Minstrel Festival in the Grand Opera House, New York, in ...

Article

Colin Mackerras

[ Mei Lan-fang ]

( b Beijing, Oct 22, 1894; d Beijing, Aug 8, 1961). Chinese opera actor , a specialist in dan (female) roles. He came from a well-known theatrical family and was trained at Fuliancheng, the most important school for actors in Beijing. He became famous in 1913 when he visited Shanghai. From then on he was in great demand both inside and outside China. He went to Japan in 1919, 1924 and 1956, to the USA in 1930 and to Europe in 1935, his many trips playing a major role in the spread of Beijing opera around the world. A versatile actor, he mastered Kunqu as well as Beijing opera. He was most famous as a qingyi, but could perform any of the dan roles and was an excellent acrobat. After the Communists came to power he helped them in their drama reform and took part in numerous conferences and committees; he joined the Chinese Communist Party in ...

Article

Colin Mackerras

(b Beijing, 1901; d Beijing, Dec 26, 1966). Chinese actor of Beijing opera, a specialist in laosheng (old male) roles. A Hui, or Chinese Muslim, he entered Beijing's Fuliancheng Training School in 1909. He established his own school of performance in which the singing was noted for its enthusiasm and lack of restraint, but consistent with maintaining perfection and precision of technique. Ma was very innovative in his acting and took on newly created roles readily. Having gone to Hong Kong in the spring of 1948, where he starred in several opera films, he returned to China in 1951, serving the new Communist regime in many capacities. He performed for the Chinese troops in Korea and headed the Beijing Opera Company in Beijing and its Traditional Drama School. In 1964 he supported the move towards the revolutionary Beijing operas and even performed in them. He was, however, an early casualty of the Cultural Revolution, which began in ...

Article

Mukesh  

Alison Arnold

[Mathur, Mukesh Chandra ]

(b Delhi, July 22, 1923; d Detroit, Aug 27, 1976). Indian film actor, playback singer and recording artist . Mukesh’s singing career began in 1940 when a respected actor and distant relative, Motilal, brought him to Bombay after hearing him sing at his sister’s wedding in Delhi. Motilal initially supported Mukesh, providing accommodation in his house and arranging vocal training. Mukesh’s first film role was as the hero in National Studios' Hindi movie Nirdosh (1941), in which he sang his first film song as an actor-singer, ‘Dil hi bujha hua’. Despite the film’s box-office failure he spent two more years working as an actor-singer for Ranjit Movietone. In 1945 he sang his first playback song, ‘Badariya baras gai us par’, for Ranjit’s film Murti, and in the same year he recorded the song ‘Dil jalta hai to jalne de’ by the music director Anil Biswas for Paheli nazar...

Article

David W. Bernstein

revised by Wendy F. Hsu

(b Tokyo, Japan, Feb 18, 1933). American performance artist, composer, singer, and songwriter of Japanese birth. Ono was born into a wealthy banking family and raised in Tokyo. In 1953, she moved to New York to attend Sarah Lawrence College where she studied music and philosophy. Ono married Toshi Ichiyanagi in 1956. In the early 1960s the couple’s Manhattan apartment became the site of many performance events; several of the artists who performed there later became associated with Fluxus. Dubbed “the high priestess of the happening,” Ono was a pioneer in the conceptual art movement. She once claimed that “the only sound that exists … is the sound of the mind.” Her conceptual scores, described by George Maciunas as “Neo-Haiku Theater,” often consist of only brief instructions. Earth Piece (1963), for example, instructs the performer to “listen to the sound of the earth turning.” A specialist in extended vocal techniques, Ono performed self-composed pieces that featured her virtuosic vocal exploration of screams, sighs, moans, gasps, and multi-phonics....

Article

Gayle Murchison

(b Bombay [Mumbai], India, c1947). Indian singer and actress. From an affluent family, Puthli attended college in Mumbai. After studying Indian classical music and dance and Western opera as a youth, she began singing jazz and pop with local bands at age 13 and made her first recording in 1968. She met author Ved Mehta, who wrote about her in Portrait of India (New York, 1970). She appeared in two films by Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, The Guru (1969) and Savages (1972). A dance scholarship from the Martha Graham Company brought her in that same year to New York, where Mehta introduced her to CBS executive John Hammond. In 1972 she recorded two critically acclaimed tracks for Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction album. She recorded two pop and two disco albums of her own for CBS (1973–6) and a disco album for the TK label in ...

Article

J. Michele Edwards

[Chieko]

(b Okayama, Dec 13, 1938). Japanese composer and performance artist. She studied music theory and composition with Shibata and Hasegawa and the piano with Koji Taku at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, graduating in musicology in 1961. In 1961 she began to work exclusively as a freelance composer and performer, founding Group-Ongaku, an experimental ensemble focussing on improvisation, taped music and events, with Kosugi and Mizuno. In 1963 Nam June Paik introduced her to Fluxus, and, with the encouragement of George Maciunas, she went to New York to participate in the movement from 1964 to 1965. Most of her works before 1977 are event pieces such as Direction Music (1964), in which ten participants pull strings attached to a performer's fingers, or the series of international mail events published as Spatial Poem (1965–75). In later, notated compositions Shiomi continued to produce intermedia and theatrical works. In ...

Article

Colin Mackerras

(b Shunde, Guangdong province, 1900; d Beijing, April 21, 1964). Chinese actor, a specialist in chou (clown roles). Ma came from an educated family and spent much of his early career abroad, including periods in Singapore, Malaya, Vietnam, California and the Philippines, acting and making films. Apart from the last four years of World War II, he lived from 1933 until 1955 in Hong Kong, his main troupe being the Taiping. In 1955 he returned to Guangdong, where he headed the Guangdong Cantonese Opera Troupe and joined the Guangdong Provincial People's Congress. The last of his three marriages was to the famous Cantonese opera actress Hongxiannü, his partner for ten years in leading the Taiping troupe.

Ma was versatile and innovative as an actor and musician and was the foremost exponent of yueju (Cantonese opera). After returning from America he introduced many Western instruments into the Taiping troupe including the saxophone, which remained part of the orchestra....

Article

Colin Mackerras

(b Qingjiang, Jiangsu province, Jan 14, 1895; d Shanghai, March 8, 1975). Chinese actor. A specialist in laosheng (old male) roles, Zhou first performed in such a role in Hangzhou, the Zhejiang province capital, at the age of seven, and in 1907 acted in Shanghai. In 1908 he went for training to Beijing's Fuliancheng School, and there got to know and became lifelong friends with Mei Lanfang. He left Beijing soon after, spending most of his career in Shanghai. He supported the Communists after 1949, being a member of the National People's Congress for over a decade and joining the Communist Party in 1959. Zhou was deeply involved in politics and used the stage for political causes, especially against the Japanese. Despite his left-wing sympathies he was persecuted as a reactionary when the Cultural Revolution erupted in 1966.

Zhou created many new roles. His singing was noted much more for its expressive quality than the beauty of its sound, some even calling his voice gritty. In ...

Article

Colin Mackerras

[T’an Hsin-p’ei ]

(b Hubei, April 23, 1847; d Beijing, May 10, 1917). Chinese opera actor , a specialist in laosheng (old male) roles. He began training for the stage at the age of ten and was for a time the disciple of Cheng Changgeng and a member of the latter’s Sanqing company. Later he founded his own troupe, the Tongqing, and became a distinguished laosheng actor of Beijing opera. He spent most of his life in Beijing but travelled frequently to Tianjin and four times to Shanghai, the last being in 1913. His greatest social success was to become the favourite actor of the Empress Dowager Cixi. Tan had a powerful voice but as a performer he was better known for his capacity to absorb and transmit the best features of earlier masters than for his creativity. He was highly skilled in acrobatics and his repertory ran to over 300 plays. Five of his 11 children became actors....

Article

Colin Mackerras

(b Beijing, Jan 4, 1904; d Beijing, March 9, 1958). Chinese Beijing opera actor. He was a specialist in dan (female) roles. Cheng's brightest period on the stage was from 1919 until the late 1930s, but he gave more time to teaching from the mid-1930s on. He went abroad several times, notably to Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland in 1932 and 1933 to study Western opera. After the Communists came to power, he devoted himself more to administration and teaching than acting and joined the Communist Party in 1957.

Although mainly a performer of traditional opera, Cheng was adept at creating his own melodies and acted in many newly written operas, especially those featuring new ideas about women of the past. He was one of the four great actors of female roles (sida mingdan). As a singer, his voice was deeper than usual for dan actors, his genius lying in the representation of tragic figures....

Article

Zeami  

Masakata Kanazawa

[Motokiyo, Kanze Saburō]

(b? 1363; d ?Aug 8, 1443). Japanese nō actor and writer. As a boy he was known as Fujiwaka. He was the eldest son of Kan'ami Kiyotsugu, the founder of the Kanze school of . Their performance in 1374 so impressed the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu that he invited them to his court and became their lifetime patron, and eventually became the official performing art of the shogunate. Of about 50 surviving plays by Zeami, the most famous are Takasago, Izutsu and Matsukaze. He also wrote many treatises and essays, the most important of which is Fūshi Kaden (1400), better known as Kadensho (‘Book of Flowers’), a treatise on the aesthetics of . After the death of Yoshimitsu in 1428, Zeami fell foul of his successor, Ashikaga Yoshinori, and was banished to Sado Island in 1434. Whether he returned to Kyoto is not known.

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