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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

Barbara Chmara-Żackiewicz

(b Glinno, nr Poznań, April 9, 1757; d Warsaw, July 23, 1829). Polish impresario, librettist, actor and singer. He was a central figure in the history of the Polish theatre. He studied in Kraków (1770–73), where he attended many theatrical and concert performances organized by Sierakowski, prompting him to change the direction of his career away from the army and towards the theatre. He probably completed his studies at the Piarist school in Warsaw. For a few months during 1778 he studied acting with L. Montbrun, a Warsaw theatrical impresario. Soon afterwards he made his début as an actor in N.T. Barthé’s comedy Zmyślona niewierność (‘Imaginary Infidelity’), and on 11 July 1778 as a singer and librettist in the première of Maciej Kamieński’s opera Poverty made Happy. In 1783 he became the director of the National Theatre in Warsaw, remaining in this position (with some breaks) until ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Salvatore Phillip]

(b Detroit, MI, Feb 16, 1935; d South Lake Tahoe, CA, Jan 5, 1998). American singer, composer, producer, actor, and politician. Bono began his career as a composer; one of his first songs, “Things You Do To Me,” was recorded by Sam Cooke in 1957–8. He eventually made contact with Phil Spector, with whom he worked closely for several years. One of his first successes came in 1963, when his song “Needles and Pins” (co-written with Jack Nitzsche) was recorded by Jackie DeShannon and reached number one on the charts in Canada. The height of his musical career came in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the duo Sonny and Cher. He wrote, produced, and performed on many of their hits, including “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On.” Success with Cher, to whom he was married from 1964 to 1975, led to many appearances on television, including ...

Article

Richard Langham Smith

(b Strasbourg, June 22, 1852; d Paris, Dec 12, 1938). French theatre and opera administrator, director, actor and librettist. Carré had studied drama at the Paris Conservatoire and had a successful career as an actor before becoming co-director of various Paris theatres: first the Vaudeville, and later the Théâtre Libre and the Comédie-Française. He soon left the Vaudeville to become director of the theatre in Nancy. Carré’s main contribution to operatic history was made as director of the Opéra-Comique, a post which he held from 1898 to 1914 and where his strong team included André Messager as musical director and Lucien Jusseaume as designer. He worked hard to raise the musical standards of this institution and was responsible for the premières of major operas by French composers: he commissioned Debussy’s Pelléas, Charpentier’s Louise and Dukas’ Ariane et Barbe-bleue, and works by Hahn, Bruneau and Hüe. He gave the first French performances of several Italian operas, including ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Colón Román jr, William Anthony; ‘El malo’]

(b South Bronx, New York, April 28, 1950). American bandleader, composer, arranger, trombonist, popular singer, producer and actor. Dubbed ‘El malo’ (the ‘bad boy’) of salsa, he began playing the trumpet in 1963 with the teenage band the Dandees. Switching to trombone, he made his professional début at 17 with the album El malo (Fania, 1967). Both as a bandleader and a member of the Fania All-Stars, he quickly moved to the fore of the burgeoning New York salsa scene, cementing the raw, trombone-heavy ‘New York sound’ inspired by earlier artists such as Eddie Palmieri and Mon Rivera. Between 1967 and 1973 he made a series of important recordings with vocalist Hector Lavoe, which included the albums Asalto Navideño I and II (Fania, 1972 and 1973) with cuatro virtuoso Yomo Toro, where traditional Puerto Rican Christmas aguinaldos were fused with salsa. During his second period (...

Article

(b Los Herreras, Nuevo León, México Dec 16, 1921; d Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, Sept 1, 2003). Mexican actor, singer, songwriter, and film director. Eulalio “Piporro” González Ramírez is best known for developing an idiosyncratic style of parodying Northern Mexican, or norteño, identity, lifestyle, and language through music and comedic acting for radio, stage, and film. His career spanned 60 years. He began as a newspaper reporter and radio personality in Monterrey and in US-Mexico border towns when he landed a role on the radio comedy, Ahí viene Martín Corona (Here Comes Martín Corona) produced in México City and starring the popular singer and actor Pedro Infante. At age 28, he played Infante’s elderly sidekick in 19th-century northern México where his bumbling character, “Piporro,” helped solve conflicts and dustups in local ranch life. The show’s success led to the 1951 film of the same name starring González and Infante. González enjoyed countless roles as “Piporro” in classic ...

Article

(b Berlin, 30 Nov ?1746 [or 1743/4]; d Hanover, May 20, 1796). German actor, manager, dramatist and librettist. While in the Prussian civil service at Danzig he was offered the chance of standing in for a member of Abel Seyler's company at Gotha in 1774; his performance as Riccaut in Lessing's Minna von Barnhelm was much admired and he remained with Seyler's company until 1778, marrying the widowed actress Karoline Flittner soon after joining. In 1778 he established his own company, touring especially in north-west Germany, but having his headquarters at the Elector of Cologne's theatre at Bonn. From 1784 he directed a second company performing at Mainz and Frankfurt (where he had supervised the opening of the new theatre in 1782), while his wife controlled the Bonn theatre. In 1786 he toured again, appearing in Cologne, Hanover, Kassel and elsewhere. His last play, Wer wird sie bekommen?...

Article

Sandra Jean Graham

(b Jacksonville, FL, Aug 11, 1873; d New York, NY, Nov 11, 1954). American composer, lyricist, vocalist, actor, theatrical director, and educator, brother of james weldon Johnson . He was born to James Johnson, a freeman from Virginia, and Helen Louise [née Dillett] Johnson, born free in Nassau, the Bahamas. His mother, a trained singer and educator, began teaching Johnson piano when he was four. From 1890 to 1896 Johnson studied music at the New England Conservatory. He then performed in John W. Isham’s Oriental America, which whetted his appetite for theater. After returning to Jacksonville (spring 1897), he taught music privately and was supervisor of music for Jacksonville public schools (1896–9). He was also choirmaster and organist at a large Baptist church and taught music at the Baptist Academy. Johnson’s earliest compositions, with his brother as lyricist, date from this time.

In summer 1899 the Johnson brothers went to New York hoping to get their operetta ...

Article

Jonas Westover

(b Hattiesburg, MS, Jan 3, 1943). American Composer, lyricist, producer, arranger, actor, and singer. He is best known for collaborating with other artists and for writing the lyrics to the Beach Boys’ album Smile with Brian Wilson. Although he began his career as a child actor throughout the 1950s, he turned to music in his teens, learning guitar and performing with his brother, Carson. He landed a record contract in 1964 with MGM, then moved to Warner Bros. two years later, mostly working as an arranger and a session musician. In 1966 he recorded on the Byrds album Fifth Dimension (Columbia) and began his work on Smile. His songs such as “Surf’s Up” and “Wind Chimes” impressed Wilson, who championed Parks’s work. However, due to strife within the band—caused partly by objections to such songs as “Cabinessence”—Smile went unreleased at the time. Parks went on to work on solo projects, and in ...

Article

John Koegel

(b Hamburg, Jan 29, 1864; d New York, July 30, 1936). German composer, librettist, singer, actor and theatre manager, active in the United States. He began a career as a tenor with operetta companies in Germany and Austria. In 1890 Gustav Amberg brought him to New York to sing operetta roles, though he also sang in opera, most notably in the role of Turridu in Cavalleria rusticana (November 1891). In 1893 Philipp opened the Germania Theater (formerly Aberle’s Theatre), where he produced musical comedies modelled after Harrigan’s stage works, until 1902. He composed, wrote the librettos for, and appeared in such portrayals of German-American immigrant life on New York’s East Side as Der Corner Grocer aus der Avenue A (1893), Arme Maedchen (1893), Ein New Yorker Brauer (1894) and New York bei Nacht (1897). Ein New Yorker Brauer...

Article

Stephen Ruppenthal

revised by Joanna R. Smolko

[James Calwell, Jr. ]

(b Reading, PA, March 21, 1945; d Philadelphia, PA, April 6, 1992). American performance artist, composer, writer, and arts administrator. He studied sculpture at the University of Texas, Austin (BFA 1968), and at the University of California, Berkeley (MFA 1972). As an administrator he cofounded and was vice president and curator of the performance space, 80 Langton Street (San Francisco, 1975–6, later renamed New Langton Arts), and was a trustee of the San Francisco Art Institute (1975–8). As artist-in-residence at the Exploratorium in San Francisco (1976–7) he created the visual installation Light Weight Phantoms; and in 1977 he joined the sculpture department of San Francisco State University. He acted as consultant to museums and galleries and to the NEA, and his performances and sound sculptures have been presented in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1979), the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art (...

Article

Craig Jennex

(b Thunder Bay, ON, Nov 28, 1949). Canadian pianist, composer, musical director, actor, producer, and bandleader. He has been musical director for David Letterman’s late-night shows since 1982. Prior to working with Letterman, Shaffer was a featured performer on “Saturday Night Live.” He has served as musical director and producer for the Blues Brothers and cowrote the 1980s dance hit “It’s raining men.” He has served as musical director for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony since its inception in ...