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Article

Samuel S. Brylawski

(b Chicago, Oct 6, 1893; d Los Angeles, May 6, 1979). American composer. He began his career as a song plugger and arranger for the publishing companies of George M. Cohan and Irving Berlin, and had his first success as a songwriter (in collaboration with the composer George W. Meyer) with Everything's peaches down in Georgia (G. Clarke, 1918), introduced by Al Jolson. He wrote many songs to lyrics by Jack Yellen (with whom he founded the publishing firm Ager, Yellen & Bornstein in 1922), including I wonder what's become of Sally (1924), Ain't she sweet? (1927) and Happy days are here again (1930); the last became closely associated with the presidential campaigns of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Other well-known songs by Ager are I'm nobody's baby (lyrics by B. Davis; 1921), Auf Wiedersehen, my dear (A. Hoffman, E.G. Nelson, A. Goodhart; ...

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William A. Everett and Lee Snook

[Geisman, Ella]

(b Bronx, NY, Oct 7, 1917; d Ojai, CA, July 8, 2006). American singer and actress. Trained as a dancer and with a career which began on Broadway, she became known as the perennial ‘girl next door’ in MGM motion pictures. Her early career in film was as a dancer in shorts such as Dime a Dance (1937), but she gained attention with her first major Broadway role in Best Foot Forward (1941) and reprised her role in the 1943 film version. Other musical films in which she appeared include Thousands Cheer (1943), Girl Crazy (1943), Two Girls and a Sailor (1944), Music for Millions (1944), Two Sisters from Boston (1946) and Good News (1947). In 1948, she began to appear in non-musical films, including dramas and comedies. She received a Golden Globe Award in ...

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Michael J. Budds

American vocal trio. It was formed in 1932 by the sisters LaVerne (b Minneapolis, 6 July 1915; d Brentwood, CA, 8 May 1967), Maxene (Maxine) (b Minneapolis, 3 Jan 1918; d Hyannis, MA, 21 Oct 1995) and Patti (Patricia) (b Minneapolis, 16 Feb 1920; d Los Angeles, CA, 30 Jan 2013) Andrews. They began performing in vaudeville houses in the Midwest with the Larry Rich Orchestra in 1932, and first achieved national prominence with a version of Bei mir bist du schön in 1937. They made frequent radio appearances in the late 1930s and 40s, including regular performances with the Glenn Miller Orchestra; they acted in 16 films (1940–48), often cast as themselves; they made nationwide tours; and they produced a steady stream of popular song recordings, some with Bing Crosby and Guy Lombardo. Among the most popular of their recordings were ...

Article

Ronald Riddle

(b New York, May 20, 1889; d Harmon, NY, Oct 10, 1918). American composer and pianist. After studying the piano at the National Conservatory of Music in America and taking private lessons with Alexander Lambert, he pursued a varied career in New York, writing material for vaudeville entertainers, serving as a staff pianist for various publishers and recording extensively both on piano rolls (Duo-Art, QRS) and discs (Victor). Arndt’s compositions combine salon gentility with occasional ragtime syncopation, foreshadowing the novelty-piano works of the 1920s by such composers as Confrey and Bargy. They include ...

Article

Thomas L. Gayda

(b Vienna, Aug 17, 1880; d New York, Feb 25, 1942). Austrian composer. He studied law and music at Vienna University, the piano with Hugo Reinhold and L. Thern (1898–1904) and composition with Robert Fuchs and Franz Schmidt. By 1905 he had decided to devote his time to composition, and by 1932 had composed 32 operettas. His first, Vergeltsgott (1905), was produced at the Theater an der Wien and had 69 performances, while one of his greatest successes was Hoheit tanzt Walzer (1912), first produced at the Raimundtheater and performed more than 2500 times over the next ten years. Characteristically Ascher’s music was in a strong local Viennese idiom, and he created a perfect example of the so-called Wienerlied with S’Lercherl von Hernals (1911). He also wrote lieder and film music. Ascher was arrested during the Reichskristallnacht, and upon his release emigrated to the USA (...

Article

Lise Waxer

(b Santa Clara, Feb 11, 1893; d Havana, Jan 20, 1943). Cuban pianist and bandleader. As the leader of the Havana Casino Orchestra he is best known for having launched the El manicero (‘Peanut Vendor’) craze in the United States after his band performed this number at New York’s Palace Theater on 26 April 1930. Written by Moises Simon, the song became an instant hit, and within a year popular jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington had recorded versions of the tune. Expanding upon the traditional Cuban conjunto (sextet or septet), Azpiazú’s band was a 14-piece dance orchestra with trumpets, saxophones, trombone, tuba, piano, bass and Cuban percussion. Although Latin bands already existed in New York, his was the first group to be successful with the non-Latino public, helping to catalyze the rhumba dance craze that lasted throughout the decade. The Havana Casino Orchestra recorded popular versions of other tunes such as ...

Article

Michael J. Budds

(b Kansas City, MO, May 12, 1928). American composer and pianist. He learnt the cello, drums and piano from an early age and developed a particular interest in jazz. He played as a night club pianist, and then served in the army, touring as a pianist (1950–52). He went on to study music at the Mannes College of Music, New York, the New School of Social Research, McGill University, Montreal and gained a scholarship to the Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara, California. His composition teachers included Milhaud, Martinů and Cowell. Bacharach became an accompanist for Vic Damone, subsequently working with such performers as Polly Bergen, Steve Lawrence, the Ames Brothers and Paula Stewart, to whom he was married from 1953 to 1958. From 1958 to 1961 he toured internationally with Marlene Dietrich. Bacharach began writing arrangements and composing songs in the mid-1950s, working at the Brill Building and collaborating with the lyricist Hal David (...

Article

Brenda M. Romero

A generic term since the 1950s for dance groups that merge theatrical elements of classical ballet with Mexican folk dances. The use of the term was primarily modeled on the famous Ballet Folclórico de México, founded in 1952 by Amalia Hernández (1917–2000). Mexican dance companies had begun to incorporate regional folk dances into their modern dance and classical ballet theatrical productions by the 1920s, as part of the postrevolutionary Mexican nationalist movement in the arts. By the 1950s, such “staged spectacles” were founded on anthropological and historical research and reflected a “revolutionary nationalism” that celebrated and highlighted the importance of music and dance in Mexican identity. No doubt this was partly in response to increasing anti-Mexican sentiment in the United States. Regional Mexican folk dances have always been practiced by Mexican-American immigrant communities in the United States. With the Chicano social and artistic movement that followed the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, ...

Article

David Thomas Roberts

(b Newaygo, MI, July 31, 1894; d Vista, CA, Jan 16, 1974). American composer and pianist. He began to study piano at the age of five in Toledo, Ohio. By the time he was 17 he had discarded his ambitions to become a concert pianist, having become fascinated with ragtime pianists in Toledo’s red-light district, including the famous exponent of eastern ragtime Luckey Roberts. After playing professionally in cinemas and organizing a dance band, he was engaged in 1919 by the ragtime composer Charley Straight to edit, play, arrange and compose for Imperial Player Rolls. Bargy’s association with Straight led to his acquaintance with the agent Edgar Benson, who assembled a band directed by Bargy to record for Victor. Bargy later joined Isham Jones’s orchestra for two years and, in 1928, began a 12-year association with Paul Whiteman’s band, for which he is best remembered today. Later he served as conductor and arranger for Larry Ross’s radio show, and from ...

Article

Gerard Béhague

(Evangelista)

(b Ubá, Nov 7, 1903; d Rio de Janeiro, Feb 9, 1964). Brazilian composer and conductor. In 1920 he moved to Rio de Janeiro where he developed his career, first as a pianist in dance bands and cinemas, then as a composer of pieces for musical theatre, as a radio programmer and announcer, and later as a television programmer. He also composed the sound tracks for various films, especially Walt Disney’s The Three Caballeros (‘Você já foi à Bahia?’), for which he received a diploma from the Hollywood Academy of Cinematographic Sciences and Arts. In 1955, the Brazilian government bestowed upon him, together with Villa-Lobos, the National Order of Merit.

Barroso greatly contributed to the establishment of the classic urban samba in the 1930s. Among the over 160 sambas that he wrote, those of the 1930s and 40s have remained the most popular. Such pieces as Faceira (...

Article

Ronald M. Radano

[Harold George]

(b New York, March 1, 1927). American popular singer and actor. He lived in Kingston, Jamaica, for five years (1935–40), returning to New York in 1940. In 1945 he began a career as an actor, having studied in Erwin Piscator’s drama workshop at the New School of Social Research. He experienced greater commercial success, however, as a popular singer, making his début at the Royal Roost, New York, in 1949. The following year he rejected his popular song repertory and began to sing traditional melodies from Africa, Asia, America and the Caribbean, which he collected in folk music archives. Having secured an RCA recording contract in 1952, Belafonte went on to become the most popular ‘folk’ singer in the USA. His interpretations of Trinidadian calypso music between 1957 and 1959 won him his greatest success and marked the pinnacle of his career. His mass appeal through the 1950s, moreover, enabled him to resume his work as an actor, and he appeared in several films. During the 1960s and 70s his popularity waned, but he continued to record, and to perform in nightclubs and theatres for a predominantly white, middle-class audience. In ...

Article

Robert Howie

(b Buffalo, NY, April 8, 1943; d Tucson, AZ, July 2, 1987). American director and choreographer. He made his début at the age of 17 as Baby John in a tour of West Side Story, and was influenced by working with Jerome Robbins, Michael Kidd and Peter Gennaro in further Broadway shows. His first orginal dances featured in the short-lived A Joyful Noise (1966), and in the following year he staged How Now, Dow Jones whose producer, David Merrick, spotted Bennett’s potential and gave him his first hit, Promises, Promises (1968), with his first show-stopping number, ‘Turkey Lurkey Time’. His staging of Follies in 1971 was so integral to the show’s success that Hal Prince gave him co-director’s credit. By Seesaw (1973), he took over the direction, choreography and writing of an out-of-town disaster and reversed its fortunes: this level of artistic control inspired Bennett to develop ...

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....

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Article

Gerald Bordman

[Fannie; Borach, Fannie]

(b New York, Oct 29, 1891; Hollywood, CA, May 29, 1951). American actress and singer. She began singing in her parents’ saloon, then worked on the burlesque circuit playing comic roles, where she came to the attention of Ziegfeld. He gave her a part in his Follies of 1910, in which her performance of Berlin’s ‘Good-bye Becky Cohen’ and Joe Jordan’s ‘Lovie Joe’ stopped the show. She appeared in eight more editions of the Follies as well as numerous other Broadway musicals. She was known particularly for her performance of comic songs with a Yiddish accent, for example ‘I’m an Indian’ from the Follies of 1920, and ‘Old Wicked Willage of Wenice’ in Fioretta (1929; libretto by Earl Carroll, music by George Bagby and G. Romilli). She was also a superb torch-singer, and became associated with such ballads as James F. Hanley’s Rose of Washington Square and Maurice Yvain’s ...

Article

Jon Alan Conrad

(b Flint, MI, March 30, 1933). American orchestrator, conductor and composer. He studied music at Michigan State University and then at the New England Conservatory, which included conducting with Neel and Stokowski, and the double bass. The latter led to performing engagements with numerous orchestras; from 1961 to 1967 he also conducted, particularly ballet orchestras. At this time he began conducting tours and concerts of musicals, and in the 1970s his orchestrations for musicals were first heard. These included orchestrations reconciling a variety of sources with the requirements for modern revivals or compilations (as with Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Carousel, Show Boat, and his contributions to the restoration of the Gershwins’ Strike up the Band). He has composed incidental music, arranged for television and film, provided arrangements for recording (for Mandy Patinkin, Plácido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade), and written songs and musicals, as well as concert and dance works. Additionally he has provided re-creations of Prokofiev’s film music (...

Article

Gerard Béhague

(Francisco)

(b Rio de Janeiro, June 19, 1944). Brazilian composer and singer-songwriter. The son of a prominent historian and intellectual, he began studying architecture at the University of São Paulo in 1963 but decided soon after to pursue a career in popular music. Although he was a great admirer of the bossa nova musician João Gilberto, his first hits, Pedro Pedreiro and Sonho de um Carnaval (both recorded in 1965), as well as Olê Olá, revealed innovative talents. The first piece is an early expression of his concern for and subsequent criticism of some of Brazil's urban social problems. The well-known poet-diplomat Vinicius de Morais, a family friend and fundamental figure of the bossa nova movement, exerted a strong influence on Buarque's music and poetry. Indeed the ‘master of the language’, as Jobim characterized him, went on to produce some of the most sophisticated popular songs of his generation, both poetically and musically. In ...

Article

Gerald Bordman

(b Brooklyn, NY, Feb 7, 1870; d New York, Aug 23, 1933). American actress and singer. She made her début in 1888 and appeared in small roles in several Broadway plays before spending some time performing in Paris and London. She returned to the USA in 1895 to accept a small part in the musical Excelsior, Jr., then assumed the title role in the show’s national tour. She subsequently appeared in such musicals as Victor Herbert’s The Gold Bug (1896), in which she stopped the show with ‘When I First Began to Marry, Years Ago’, and The Wild Rose (1902), in which she introduced ‘Nancy Brown’; she achieved stardom in Sally in our Alley (1902) with her most famous song, ‘Under the bamboo tree’. Cahill continued to play leading roles in Nancy Brown (1903), It Happened in Nordland (1904...

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Samuel S. Brylawski

[Samuel]

(b New York, June 18, 1913; d Los Angeles, Jan 15, 1993). American lyricist. His first assignments as a lyricist were for speciality material for dance bands. In 1937 he and Saul Chaplin, with whom he had earlier led a dance band, adapted a Yiddish theatre song into a very successful song for the Andrews Sisters, Bei mir bist du schön. With Chaplin, Jimmy Van Heusen, Nicholas Brodszky and Jule Styne, he wrote many successful songs for Hollywood films, notably for Frank Sinatra, and won many Academy nominations and awards. His talent for adapting lyrics for special occasions and personalities brought him many commissions for song parodies for industrial shows, benefits and television. High Button Shoes (1947), written with Jule Styne, was a successful Broadway stage show, as was an autobiographical revue, Words and Music (1974).

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dates are those of first New York performance...

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

[Leonard]

(b Winnipeg, MB, Sept 30, 1939). Canadian actor and singer. An accomplished actor on stage, film and television, Cariou’s Broadway credits include Bill Sampson in Applause (1970), Frederik in A Little Night Music (1973), and the title character in Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979). He reprised the role of Frederik in the 1977 film version of A Little Night Music; other film credits include The Four Seasons (1981). He has appeared in numerous television movies and has made guest appearances in various television shows, including the recurring role of Michael Hagarty in Murder, She Wrote, the series which featured his co-star from Sweeney Todd, Angela Lansbury. He possesses a wide range, excellent diction and a dramatic masculine sound, and his voice works effectively in both solo and ensemble settings. His true strength is as a character actor, and his voice quality enhances the theatrical effect of the wide variety of roles which he portrays....