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Owen Wright

[Maḥmūd ibn Mas‘ūd al-Shīrāzī]

(b Shiraz, 1236; d Tabriz, 1311). Persian physician and scientist. The most outstanding pupil of the mathematician Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī, he is particularly known for his work in medicine, optics and astronomy. His encyclopedia, Durrat al-tāj (‘Pearl of the crown’) demonstrates his mastery of the whole range of traditional medieval scholarship, and contains within its treatment of the mathematical sciences (quadrivium) a lengthy section on music. This is mainly a restatement of the musical theory developed by Ṣafī al-Dīn, but is important for its attention to musical practice, particularly in its codification and description of modes and rhythmic cycles. In both areas it points to the existence of a wider range of structures than is apparent from the works of Ṣafī al-Dīn; its treatment of the modes in particular is far fuller, and is less restricted by purely theoretical concerns. It ends with the most extended, complex and precise example of notation to be found in the works of the medieval Arab and Persian theorists, a unique document which allows some insight into the nature of the compositional practice of the period with regard not only to formal, modal and rhythmic strategies but also to techniques of text setting....

Article

Ronit Seter

[Berman, Bernhardt]

(b Wiesbaden, July 20, 1923). Israeli critic, composer and musicologist. He moved to Mandatory Palestine in 1936. After studying composition with Paul Ben-Haim, his most influential teacher, Bar-Am attended the Ecole Normale de Paris (1949–51). He studied musicology at Tel-Aviv University (BA 1977), where he became the principal lecturer for courses on Jewish music and Israeli contemporary music (1973–96) and the first director of the Archive of Israeli Music. The secretary general of the Israeli League of Composers (1960–76, 1976–8), he became chair of the organizing committee of the ISCM in Israel in 1980. Though most influential as the music critic of the Jerusalem Post between 1958 and 1995, Bar-Am also wrote many essays on Israeli music in Hebrew, English and German, notably ‘A Musical Gateway between East and West’ (Jerusalem Post, 20 April 1988). He ceased composing in the early 1970s but resumed in ...

Article

(b Kolozsvár [now Cluj-Napoca], Aug 16, 1907; d Tel-Aviv, Nov 5, 1964). Israeli composer and music critic of Hungarian origin. He grew up in a highly religious family – some of his forebears were Hassidic rabbis – which originated from the Moravian town Boskovice. Educated at the Jewish lyceum Tarbut in Cluj during the period in which it briefly flourished before forced Romanization and repression of the Jews in Transylvania, he studied the piano with Hevesi Piroska and then in Vienna with Victor Ebenstein. In 1927 he took advanced studies in Paris with Lazar Levi (piano), Dukas (composition) and Boulanger, which shaped his predilection for French music, in particular Debussy and Milhaud. Back in Cluj, he became, in 1930, one of the conductors of the State Opera and founded a fine Jewish amateur orchestra named after Karl Goldmark. In 1937 he contributed to a volume on Jewish topics with a study of contemporary Jewish music, the revival of which he related to the Russian influence on music after Wagner. He followed Sabaneyev’s example in regarding the collection and publication of Jewish folksong as a prerequisite for the emergence of such a music, stressing the linear, non-harmonic nature of Jewish musical expression. Concurrent with the essay, he composed ...

Article

[Denis Browne, William Charles]

(b Leamington Spa, Nov 3, 1888; d Achi Baba, Turkey, June 4, 1915). English composer and critic. He was educated at Rugby and at Clare College, Cambridge, where he became a close friend of Dent; he graduated in classics and took a MusB in 1912. After a short spell of teaching at Repton he moved to London as a critic and teacher; his articles for The Times (1913–14) and the New Statesman (1914) reveal a brilliant musical mind. His posthumously published songs are particularly beautiful and the ballet suggests a rare ability to absorb new idioms. He was killed in action shortly after burying his friend Rupert Brooke.

Article

Saadalla Agha Al-Kalaa

(b Aleppo, Syria, 1884; d Aleppo, Nov 26, 1952). Syrian musician and music researcher. He studied music and muwashsha singing in Aleppo and Istanbul. From 1912 to 1920 he lived in Turkey, where he taught music and wrote an unpublished book entitled The Real Theories in the Science of Musical Readings. On return to Aleppo he became leader of the Mawlawi Sufi group, playing the flute (nāy) during the ceremonies and teaching muwashsha singing.

In 1927 he was invited to teach at the Royal Institute of Music in Cairo; his pupils included the composers Riyād al-Sunbaṭī and Muḥammad ‘Abd al-Wahhāb. In Egypt he documented many old muwashsha and musical pieces. In 1931 he went to Tunisia to do joint research with the French musicologist Baron D'Erlanger, and while resident in Tunis taught muwashsha for six years. He made the first notations of Tunisian Andalusian ...

Article

Susan Au

(b Tianjin, China, Feb 4, 1903; d Searsmont, ME, July 12, 1983). American poet, dance critic, and librettist. Following his education at Harvard and the University of Vienna, he studied dance in Vienna at the Hellerau-Laxenburg school, a center of Ausdrucktanz, or expressive dance. He performed and choreographed in Germany, but returned to the United States in 1935 when the Nazis came to power. In New York City he renewed his acquaintance with composers Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson, whom he had met in Europe. Through their good offices, he was appointed dance critic of the periodical Modern Music in 1936. His association with Copland also included the writing of three opera libretti, though only one, The Second Hurricane (1937), was actually produced on stage. From 1943–5 he temporarily replaced Walter Terry, who was doing military service, as dance critic of the New York Herald Tribune....

Article

Anthony Parr

(b London, Jan 1, 1879; d Coventry, June 7, 1970). English writer. Closely associated with Cambridge and the Bloomsbury group, he campaigned actively against censorship. His travels in Europe and India yielded two of his best-known novels, A Room with a View (1908) and A Passage to India...

Article

Martin Cooper

(b Deolali, India, Feb 27, 1893; d Cheltenham, Sept 6, 1972). English critic. After serving in World War I and as a civil servant he worked at the National Gallery. Expert knowledge of the visual arts and of European culture in general lent a valuable perspective to his music criticism in the ...

Article

Hsun Lin

(b Los Angeles, CA, Aug 11, 1957). American playwright. Hwang is known as the pre-eminent Asian American playwright in the United States. His plays often combine humor, pathos, and a sense of awe at ancient rituals. His early works focus on Chinese American experiences. His first success, the Obie Award-winning FOB (1980), depicts the conflicts between an American-born young man of Chinese descent and newly arrived Chinese immigrants. One of his best known works is M. Butterfly (1988), a play for which he won a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It is loosely based on a news report of a relationship between a French diplomat and a male Chinese opera singer. Hwang co-wrote the books for the musicals Aida (2000) and Tarzan (2006), rewrote the book for a revival of Flower Drum Song (2002), and provided the librettos for Philip Glass’s works ...

Article

Igor′ Bėlza

(b Kars, Turkey, 26 April/May 9, 1902; d Moscow, Nov 6, 1981). Russian musicologist and critic. After completing his studies at the Moscow Conservatory (1926–31) he worked on the editorial staff of Pravda as a consultant musical sub-editor (1934–57) and held various important posts on the board of the Soviet Composers’ Union; he was also editor of the journal Sovetskaya muzïka (1952–7). He then published several significant works, which appeared after years of exhaustive research; his monographs on Bach and Khachaturian, for instance, developed essays that he had published before the war. In his books on Borodin, Musorgsky and Khachaturian he examined the oriental motifs in Russian classical and Soviet music in detail.

A.P. Borodin (Moscow, 1933)Sebast′yan Bakh (Moscow, 1937, enlarged 4/1963)‘Pyataya simfoniya D. Shostakovicha’ [Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony], SovM (1938), no.3, pp.14–28Aram Khachaturyan: ėskiz kharakteristiki [Aram Khachaturian: a character sketch] (Moscow, 1939)...

Article

Owen Wright

( b Rashmayyā, 1800; d Damascus, 1880). Lebanese physician and polemicist . Among his many writings is a treatise on music, the earliest manuscript of which is dated 1840. This is the most important Arabic work on the subject from the first half of the 19th century. It is always referred to as the first text in which, with an explicitly mathematical formulation resulting in precise string sections, the modern theory of a 24 quarter-tone octave is articulated. But his definitions, which presage much later inquiry on norms of intonation, are tucked away in a concluding section, so that the bulk of the work is generally ignored.

In fact, Mushāqa's treatise is concerned primarily with scale, instruments and mode, and forms part of a tradition of description and definition exemplified by the treatise of Cantemir and, in Arabic, the anonymous Shajara dhāt al-akmām (‘The tree with calyxes’). All regard the theoretical octave as made up of a set of primary notes between which are intercalated secondary ones, and Mushāqa adds to their number by filling the gaps left by earlier writers. The ensuing account of instruments covers chordophones (including the violin) and aerophones, and gives a detailed account of lute tuning. But particularly important is the extensive catalogue of modes, both for its descriptive content, with each mode being defined in terms of a basic melodic matrix, and for its insight into the differentiation of Syrian practice from the Ottoman system of the day....

Article

Jehoash Hirshberg

(b Russia, 1899; d Tel Aviv, 1968). Israeli critic, choral conductor and composer of Russian birth. In 1925, soon after his emigration to Palestine, he was appointed music critic of the newly founded socialist daily Davar, a position he retained throughout his life. He changed his surname from Rabinowitz to the more Hebrew Ravina in 1930. His frequent and detailed reviews, which insisted on a high standard of performance and programming, and sought a genuine Jewish musical style, were highly influential. In an attempt to bring music to the people, he collaborated with David Shor on an ambitious education project that included public lectures, the publication of popular music appreciation booklets and song anthologies, and the establishment of a nation-wide network of amateur choirs. He was also a strong supporter of contemporary music in Palestine. His many songs (around 60), mostly written for young children, were intended as part of a newly composed folksong repertory....

Article

Larisa Georgievna Danko

(b Leninakon [now Gryumri, Armenia], April 7, 1924; d Leningrad, March 12, 1977). Soviet musicologist, aesthetician, sociologist and critic. He graduated in 1949 from the faculty of theory and composition at the Leningrad Conservatory, in 1953 from the Research Institute of Theatre and Music, and in 1954 from the philosophy department of Leningrad University. A year later he joined the staff of the Leningrad Institute of Theatre, Music and Cinematography, and in 1968 was also appointed to a professorship at the Leningrad Conservatory. He was awarded the Kanditat degree in 1954 for his dissertation on populist song during World War II and received the doctorate in 1965 for his dissertation on Borodin. In 1976 he initiated the formation of the Soviet Union’s first department of music criticism, at the Leningrad Conservatory. In the last ten years of his life he was a director of the criticism and music studies divisions of the Leningrad Union of Composers and of the Union of Composers of the USSR....

Article

Masakata Kanazawa

(b Tokyo, July 4, 1922). Japanese writer on music. He graduated at Tokyo University in 1944 and took up music criticism in 1946, writing for Mainichi, a daily newspaper, for half a century. In his early writings he was critical of excessive intellectualism in the avant garde and of musical commercialism. In 1951 he went to study in Paris, staying for six years; he was much influenced by his teachers, developing a particular interest in French music after 1800 and its cultural background. On his return he established the Tōyama Music Foundation in 1962 and opened a private music library specializing in medieval and Renaissance music as well as contemporary music; later he donated the early music material to Keio University, as the Tōyama Collection, while the contemporary materials (including autograph manuscripts of Japanese composers) went to the Documentation Centre of Modern Japanese Music, which he founded in ...

Article

Masakata Kanazawa

(b Tokyo, Sep 23, 1913). Japanese music critic. He studied French literature at Tokyo University, graduating in 1936. During World War I he published translations of Schumann's writings (Tokyo, 1942) and of Richard Benz's Ewiger Musikers (Tokyo, 1943). He founded a ‘Music Classroom for Children’ in collaboration with the conductor Hideo Saito and the pianist Motonari Iguchi in 1948, which eventually led to the foundation of Tōhō Gakuen School of Music in 1961. He also co-founded the Institute of 20th-Century Music with Minao Shibata, Yoshirō Irino and others in 1957, which sponsored a series of summer festivals of contemporary music. Meanwhile he began to write actively for journals and newspapers, particularly for the Asahi newspaper. He has published nearly 60 books and translated many others, including Rostand's La musique française contemporaine (Tokyo, 1953), Arthur Honegger's Je suis compositeur (Tokyo, 1953, 2/1970), Bernstein's The Joy of Music...