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Nicholas Carolan

[Séamas Ó hAonghusa]

(b Jamestown, Co. Dublin, May 5, 1919; d Naul, Co. Dublin, Oct 5, 1982). Irish traditional musician, singer and collector. Having learnt uilleann piping from his civil-servant father and worked in publishing, Ennis became a music collector for the Irish Folklore Commission in 1942. He made important Irish-language collections on paper, aided by his gifts as a performer. In 1947 he transferred to Radió Éireann, Irish state radio, to work with its new mobile recording unit, and in 1951 to the BBC in London where he was a major contributor as a collector and performer to the highly successful radio series As I Roved out, and to the collecting projects of Brian George and Alan Lomax among others. From 1958 he was a freelance performer and broadcaster. Chiefly known as an outstanding uilleann piper with a distinctive personal style, he was also a whistle player and singer, storyteller and translator from Irish. As a piper and as a founder-member in ...

Article

Paul F. Wells

[Joseph C. ]

(b Lake Forest, IL, Oct 20, 1935). American Folklorist and folksinger. He was exposed to folk songs by his parents when he was a child and began to play the guitar as a teenager. His interest in folk music deepened during his undergraduate years at Oberlin College (BA 1957). Among other musical activities while in college he hosted a radio program and served as local agent for the Folkways, Stinson, and Elektra record labels. He pursued graduate studies in folklore (MA 1961) and ethnomusicology at Indiana University and began to hone his skills as a performer in parallel with his academic and archival work there. In 1963 he was hired as librarian at the Archive of Folk Song at the Library of Congress (now the Archive of Folk Culture); this marked the beginning of a 35-year career at that institution. He was promoted to head of the archive in ...

Article

Jeff Todd Titon

[Sandy ]

(b White Plains, NY, Sept 4, 1925; d Bangor, ME, Aug 1, 2009). American folklorist, folksinger, and song collector. Ives was educated in English (MA, Columbia) and folklore (PhD, Indiana University), and taught for more than 40 years at the University of Maine. His travels in Maine and the Maritime Provinces of Canada brought him into contact with the traditions of local song-making and storytelling, particularly among men working in the woods in lumber camps and as guides. Ives’ reflexive studies of New England song-makers from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries show a keen intelligence and generosity of spirit. His eight books concentrated on deceased working-class songsters and storytellers (Larry Gorman, Lawrence Doyle, Wilbur Day, George Magoon, and Joe Scott), and on creativity within traditional forms. He claimed that vernacular literature and song had social and aesthetic values that transcended its sentimentality. His teaching and writing inspired two generations of New England folklorists, and he was active as an educator and public speaker throughout the state of Maine, where he is remembered with affection. He founded the Northeast Archives of Folklore, which later became incorporated into the Maine Folklife Center at the University of Maine, and which houses thousands of recorded interviews, photographs, and artifacts related to traditional music and lifeways in Maine and the Maritimes....

Article

Nicoletta Demetriou

(b Lefkonoiko, May 5, 1904; d Nicosia, May 10, 2004). Cypriot church cantor, Byzantine music scholar, and folk song collector and singer. He studied Byzantine music with Stylianos Hourmouzios in Nicosia (1921–4). He continued his studies in Byzantine music with Ioannis Sakellarides and Spyros Kapsaskis at the National Conservatoire of Athens, where he also studied Western music (1933–4). In 1935 he was appointed chief cantor (protopsaltis) at Agios Ioannis, the archiepiscopal cathedral in Nicosia, where he remained until the end of his life. In 1934 he became the first person to make commercial recordings of Cypriot folk songs. The ten songs he recorded were issued by HMV in Athens. In 1951 he published Kypriaki Laïki Mousa (Cypriot Popular Muse), the largest collection of Cypriot folk songs up to that time, which contained 83 transcriptions in both Byzantine and staff notation.

As a Byzantine music scholar he published 13 books, which covered different aspects of liturgical chanting. He was also the founder of a Byzantine music school in Nicosia (...

Article

H.C. Colles

revised by Frank Howes

[née Kennedy]

(b Perth, Oct 1857; d Edinburgh, Nov 22, 1930). Scottish singer, folksong collector and editor. Her father, David Kennedy, was her first teacher, and she completed her studies under Mathilde Marchesi in Milan and Paris. From the age of 12 she acted as her father’s accompanist. This background, together with her striking musical abilities, brought her to a leading position in promoting interest in the Gaelic songs of the Hebrides, although she was neither the first nor the most highly qualified collector in this area. Her published arrangements were criticized as being too free, but she defended them on the ground of the variability of the songs according to time, place and singer. This she had learnt from her experience as a collector in the Outer Hebrides, which she visited first in 1905. She was married to A.J. Fraser, and her daughter Patuffa became a player of the cláirseach. In addition to her publications, her lecture-recitals – given with her daughter and with her sister Margaret – were of prime importance in introducing Hebridean song to scholars, singers and the general public. She took the title role in Bantock’s Celtic folk opera ...

Article

Susan Feder

(b New York, NY, Sept 22, 1899; d Plainfield, NJ, May 23, 1979). American soprano and folklorist. She studied voice in New York with Cesare Stunai, Henry Russell, and Katherine Opdycke, and made her debut in 1929, as Gounod’s Marguerite, with the Quebec Opera Company, Montreal. During the 1930s, while continuing to sing opera in New York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere (her roles included Aida, Tosca, and Carmen), she became interested in American folk music and folklore and began collecting songs, particularly from residents of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and the Zuni Indians of New Mexico, about both of which she lectured and wrote articles. Her recital programs (from 1937) ranged from Hopkinson and Billings to MacDowell, Farwell, and Gershwin (often performed from manuscript); she also sang Native American songs in original languages and folksongs from all over North America. A frequent performer on radio, she was the soloist on ...

Article

Carole Pegg

[Miller, Jimmie]

(b Salford, Lancs, 1915; d Oct 22, 1989). English folk singer, songwriter and collector. He inherited a large repertory of traditional Scottish songs from his parents, William Miller and Betsy Hendry. During the early 1930s he wrote satirical songs. In 1934 he married Joan Littlewood, with whom he formed several theatres, the most famous of which was Theatre Workshop. He changed his name during the Lallans movement in Scotland in the 1940s. He married the dancer Jean Newlove in 1950, with whom he had Hamish and Kirsty MacColl (b 1949; d 2000); both became singers and musicians.

MacColl was one of the architects of the Folk Music Revival ( see England; Folk music §3 ), which began in England in the early 1950s. In 1953 he founded (with Alan Lomax, Bert Lloyd, Seamus Ennis and others) the Ballads and Blues Club in London, later to become the Singers Club. In ...

Article

Ron Pen

(b Louisville, KY, April 28, 1892; d nr Lexington, KY, March 1, 1980). American Folksinger, folk-music collector, and composer. He began collecting and transcribing songs at age 14 and composed his first song, “Go ’way from my window,” in 1907. A skilled pianist upon his graduation from Louisville’s Dupont Manual High School, he continued his studies at Cincinnati Conservatory and the Schola Cantorum in Paris. A pilot with the US Army Signal Corps during World War I, he published two collections of wartime songs, Singing Soldiers (1927) and The songs my mother never taught me (1929).

While based in New York, Niles toured internationally with contralto Marion Kerby from 1929 to 1933, arranging African American and Appalachian material for their repertoire. He also began publishing his arrangements and compositions with Carl Fischer and G. Schirmer and recording for Victor’s Red Seal label. From 1931 to 1934...

Article

Kerala J. Snyder

revised by Geoffrey Webber

(b Magdeburg, bap. March 17, 1664; d Wolfenbüttel, June 6, 1735). German music collector, singer and composer. The son of a brewer, he began his musical education with the Magdeburg Kantor Johann Scheffler, spent two years (1678–80) at the Thomasschule in Leipzig under Johann Schelle and continued his studies at the Johanneum in Hamburg. There he began his professional career as alto and later tenor soloist in the city's Kantorei, interrupted by a year at the university in Leipzig (1683–4). From 1686 to 1689 he worked as a tenor at the court in Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel; during this time he lived with the Kapellmeister Johann Theile, receiving lessons in composition from him and in singing from the two Italian castratos in residence at the court. He himself became Kapellmeister in 1689 to Duke Christian Albrecht of Schleswig-Holstein and moved to Gottorf Castle with his new bride, Magdalena Darnedden, daughter of a Brunswick brewer....

Article

Juan Pablo Gonzalez

(b San Carlos, Nuble, October 4, 1917; d Santiago, February 5, 1967). Chilean traditional singer, collector, cantautor (singer-songwriter), poet and artist. Parra inherited a folkloric repertory from her parents, singing with members of her family in circuses, theatres and bars in Santiago. From 1953 she dedicated her life to the subject of Chilean folklore: collecting, broadcasting on radio, recording and teaching. During the periods 1954–6 and 1961–4 she lived in France, based in Paris, performing in festivals, theatres, clubs, radio and television and recording Chilean music. In 1964 her art was exhibited at the Louvre’s Musée des Arts Decoratifs. On her return to Chile she installed a tent in a suburb of Santiago called La Reina, and here she lived and worked with Chilean popular culture, performing until her premature death by suicide.

With intuitive and powerful talent, Parra consciously introduced an original aesthetic to popular urban song, bringing together distinctive aspects of different Latin American traditions in a manner which could be described as a kind of ‘primitivism’, while at the same time developing literary, musical and performing aspects of the tradition, establishing her own influential models of popular Chilean musics during the 1960s. She had seminal influence on the emerging, groundbreaking generation who were to forge Chile’s ...

Article

Jennifer Spencer

(b Aleksandrovka, Bobrov district, 21 June/July 3, 1864; d Moscow, Jan 21, 1927). Russian folksinger and collector of folksongs. From 1899 to 1903 he was a clerk in a Moscow hospital, and for some years took singing lessons from Camillo Everardi. In 1903 he was invited to join a commission on folk music set up by the Society of Friends of Natural Science, Anthropology and Ethnography, attached to Moscow University. He appeared in folk concerts organized by this commission in Moscow and elsewhere: he had a fine baritone voice and was particularly successful in his interpretations of the songs of the Voronezh government, which he had known since childhood. These concerts captured the interest of Russian audiences, and Pyatnitsky was encouraged to form an ensemble of singers and instrumentalists to give regular performances of folk music.

In 1910 Pyatnitsky founded a larger choir, whose programmes featured not only folksong arrangements but also choral dances, children's games and dramatized scenes of peasant life. He made more than 400 cylinder recordings of folksongs from the Voronezh government, and also formed an invaluable collection of folk instruments and peasant costumes....

Article

Jean R. Freedman

[Margaret ]

(b New York, NY, June 17, 1935). American folksinger, songwriter, and folksong collector, daughter of musicologist charles Seeger and composer, educator, and folksong anthologist Ruth Crawford Seeger. Peggy learned piano, guitar, music theory, and transcription from her parents. With her brother mike Seeger , she learned banjo from a book written by their half-brother pete r. Seeger . She later became proficient on autoharp, Appalachian dulcimer, and English concertina. She made her first recording, Folk Songs of Courting and Complaint, while a student at Radcliffe College (1953–5). During the autumn of 1955, she studied at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. From 1956 to 1959 she traveled throughout Europe, the United States, Russia, and China before settling in England with folksinger, songwriter, and playwright Ewan MacColl [James Henry Miller] (1915–89), who became her musical partner, husband, and father of her children, Neill, Calum, and Kitty. With MacColl, she made more than 100 recordings of traditional Anglo-American ballads, political songs, love songs, work songs, and songs from literature. They frequently performed in folk clubs and concert halls, at festivals, on television, and in films. Seeger and MacColl felt that traditional music was a solid foundation on which the modern songwriter could build. They brought to their songwriting a political dimension, believing that folksongs represent the struggles of ordinary people whose lives are often ignored and whose creations are frequently slighted....

Article

Frank Kidson

revised by David Johnson

(b? Edinburgh, c1684; d ?London, after 1752). Scottish singer and folksong collector . His father was Daniel Thomson, one of the king's trumpeters for Scotland. He sang solos as a boy at a Musical Society concert in Edinburgh on St Cecilia's Day 1695. By 1722 he had settled in London, where he gave a benefit concert in February that year, including (according to Burney) a Scottish folksong as an encore.

Thomson published Orpheus Caledonius, a Collection of the Best Scotch Songs set to Musick (London, 1725), a lavishly produced volume dedicated to the Princess of Wales, with a subscription list of 300 notable people. It contains 50 Scottish folksongs, most of them taken from Allan Ramsay's Tea-table Miscellany (Edinburgh, 1723); the melodic ornaments and the figured bass accompaniments are Thomson's own. Hawkins described Thomson as ‘a tradesman’ and the collection as ‘injudicious and very incorrect’; it is true that some of the song texts are in crude, oral versions and that the figured basses have grammatical mistakes. In ...