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Howard Goldstein

[Wells, Julia Elizabeth]

(b Walton-on-Thames, Oct 1, 1935). English singer and actress. Her prodigious talents as singer and dancer were recognized early on by her mother (Barbara Morris Wells, a pianist), and stepfather (Ted Andrews, a Canadian vaudeville performer). After vocal lessons with Lilian Stiles-Allen and sporadic appearances in her parents' act, she made her solo début at the age of 12 in the Starlight Roof revue (1947), singing ‘Je suis Titania’ from Ambroise Thomas' Mignon. She repeated this feat at the Royal Command Performance of 1948.

Following engagements on BBC radio (‘Educating Archie’, 1950–52) and in Christmas pantomimes, she was asked to play the female lead in the Broadway production of Sandy Wilson's West End musical The Boy Friend (1954). This led to her portrayal on Broadway of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (1956), a role she repeated in London in 1958...

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Philip L. Scowcroft

(b March 26, 1874; d Marlow, Bucks., Dec 14, 1948). English composer and conductor. He studied composition at the GSM with MacCunn and then pursued a career in London's West End, latterly as a musical director, especially at the Playhouse, Winter Garden, Alhambra, Shaftesbury and Adelphi theatres. He subsequently worked for the BBC from 1926 to 1930. Drawing on his theatrical background he composed incidental music and also operettas, of which The King's Bride, Violette and especially the well-characterized Medorah achieved modest success.

He was also adept at writing colourful, attractively scored and melodious suites and single movements. Some of these showed a fondness for Ireland, the country which also inspired his Overture to an Irish Comedy. Others sought to explore fresh ideas in the light concert suite, a common genre in the first half of the 20th century, as in his Mediterranean Suite (three dance movements representing Spain, Italy and France) and ...

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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 (...

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(b Stratford-upon-Avon, June 27, 1963). English popular singer. He studied at the Guildford School of Acting before touring in Godspell, later gaining a leading role in the Manchester production of The New Pirates of Penzance. He created the role of Marius in the long-running Les misérables (1985) in London, introducing the song ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’, and took over Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera. He played Alex in Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love in London (1989) and on Broadway (1990), and so introduced ‘Love changes everything’, which was arranged to demonstrate Ball’s full-bodied top range. The popular success of the number enabled his expansion into the popular field and into concert tours. In 1991 he released his first solo album and the following year represented the UK in the Eurovision song contest with One Step Out of Time. His concert repertory has become increasingly wide, and he performed on his ...

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Alyn Shipton

(b Leeds, Nov 11, 1913; d Clacton, May 6, 1993). English dance bandleader, saxophonist, pianist and singer. She was a child prodigy as a pianist, broadcasting on ‘Children’s Hour’ in 1922, and playing frequently in public. She took up the clarinet and saxophone in her teens, and in 1929 joined her first all-female band, led by Edna Croudson. After some years with Croudson, she came to London and in 1937 played in female orchestras directed by Teddy Joyce, becoming leader of his Girl Friends. In 1940, after leading small groups of her own, she formed a nine-piece band for the revue Meet the Girls, which had an entirely female cast. For the rest of her career Benson led an all-female band, variously called her Rhythm Girl Band, her Ladies’ Dance Orchestra and her Showband. She broadcast frequently during World War II and afterwards, and toured internationally for the Entertainments National Servicemen’s Association from the 1940s onwards. In the 1940s she mainly played in a jazz-influenced swing style, but later often added a string section to play dance music in the manner of Victor Sylvester or Mantovani....

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(b London, June 21, 1938). English lyricist. In the 1950s his various jobs included that of a writer for the New Musical Express, a performer in the rapidly declining variety theatres (billed under such titles as ‘Donald Black, the young gangster’ and ‘Don Black, a living joke’) and a song-plugger. He began writing song lyrics in the mid-1950s, gaining success in the 1960s when Matt Monroe recorded his April Fool and Walk away, Black’s English version of the German Eurovision song contest entry Warum nur warum. Beginning with the James Bond film Thunderball (1965) he worked with the composer John Barry on many title songs for films, including Diamonds are Forever (1971), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), and Born Free (1966), for which Black received an Academy Award. Further collaborations with Barry include the musicals Billy (1974...

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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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Ray Pallett

(b Laurenço Marques [now Maputo], Jan 7, 1899; d London, April 17, 1941). British popular singer. His father was Greek, his mother was Lebanese. Bowlly was brought up in South Africa and joined Edgar Adeler’s leading dance band in 1922, touring South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, East Africa and the Far East. He left Adeler in 1924 and took up a residency at Raffles Hotel, Singapore. In 1927 he went to Germany and made his first recording, Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies. A prestigious engagement lasting one year followed at the Savoy Hotel, London, with the bandleader Fred Elizalde. He had a major break in 1930 when he joined a recording studio band led by Ray Noble, with whom he made the original versions of songs which have become standards. These, all by Noble, included The Very Thought of You, Love is the Sweetest Thing, The Touch of your Lips...

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Thomas L. Gayda

[Miklós; Nikolaus]

(b Odessa, Ukraine, 7/April 20, 1905; d Hollywood, CA, Dec 24, 1958). Hungarian composer, active in England and the USA. He learnt the piano as a child, later studying in Rome, Vienna and Budapest. By the late 1920s he had contributed songs to long-forgotten and newly-arranged Viennese operettas. He mainly specialized in film music, writing his first score in Vienna for a film starring Richard Tauber and Gitta Alpar. He continued to write numerous European popular song hits during this period. His reputation took him to England in 1937, where he wrote the songs for C.B. Cochran’s revue Home and Beauty.

Although he is credited with the scores to 14 British films over the next ten years, he was solely a songwriter and incapable of scoring incidental music for dramatic situations. Collaborators were employed, often uncredited, and he is known to have relied upon the skills of Charles Williams and Philip Green, and probably also worked with Mischa Spoliansky, Clive Richardson and Sidney Torch....

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Robert Howie

(Walter John)

(b Helensburgh, April 2, 1890; d London, Oct 20, 1957). Scottish actor, producer and director. After a disastrous début as a comic in music hall in Glasgow, he danced in West End musicals until he understudied, then replaced, Jack Hulbert in Tonight’s the Night (1915–17), in which he sang Kern’s ‘They didn’t believe me’. He established himself as a leading man, particularly in the revues of André Charlot, then starred with Gertrude Lawrence in A to Z (1921), introducing Ivor Novello’s ‘And her mother came too’. He also scored success in New York in two editions of Charlot’s London Revue (1924 and 1925). An ambitious and astute businessman, he produced Battling Butler (1922) as a vehicle for himself, and in 1926 brought Kern’s Sunny to the London Hippodrome, which became the home to a series of Buchanan productions. With Elsie Randolph he appeared in ...

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Robert Stevenson

(b Villena, nr Alicante, March 27, 1851; d Madrid, March 25, 1909). Spanish composer. In 1865 he conducted the band in his home village, where his father, an enthusiastic music-lover, was a barber. Two years later Chapí enrolled in the Madrid Conservatory, studying with Arrieta and winning first prize in harmony in 1869. While earning a precarious living as cornettist in the Circo de Price theatre orchestra, he composed an overture Zanzé and his first zarzuela Abel y Caín. In 1871 he competed successfully for the directorship of the artillery regimental band. His first symphonic suite La corte de Granada: fantasía morisca was composed in 1873 (the third of its four movements, ‘Serenata’, is still played); his one-act opera Las naves de Cortés, performed at the Teatro Real on 19 April 1874 with Tamberlik in the title role, earned him a three-year government grant to study, first at the Spanish Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, then at Milan and Paris. As fruit of these years abroad, he sent back the one-act operas ...

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Robert Howie

(b Paris, July 26, 1882; d Woodland, CA, May 20, 1956). French theatrical producer. He gained early managerial experience at various Parisian theatres and music halls, including the Folies-Bergère. In 1912 he was appointed joint manager of the Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square, London, and by 1915 was the managing director, specializing in the presentation of revue. He then produced a series of revues at the Vaudeville Theatre (1916–23) including Some, Cheep, Tabs, Buzz-Buzz, Pot Luck, Snap and Rats. These entertainments defined Charlot’s style as intimate and small-scale, relying on sophisticated material performed by witty personalities with simple, though stylish sets and costumes. He introduced Noël Coward both as a lyricist (Tails Up, 1918) and as a composer (London Calling, 1923). Beatrice Lillie, Gertrude Lawrence and Binnie Hale rose from the ranks of Charlot choruses to stardom. In A to Z at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Jack Buchanan introduced Ivor Novello’s ...

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Mark Brill

(Auguste)

(b Ménilmontant, Sep 12, 1888; d Paris, Jan 1, 1972). French singer and actor. He left school at 11 to become an electrician and soon thereafter became an acrobat, until an injury forced him to pursue singing and dancing instead. In 1900 he made his début at the Café des Trois Lions as a singer and comedian. His song-and-dance routines made him popular at local cafés and music halls where he was known as ‘Le Petit Chevalier’. Through a three-year contract at the Folies Bergères, where he began a ten-year partnership both on and off stage with the star Mistinguett, he developed the sophisticated and charismatic persona that was to make him popular on stage and in film. He learned English from a fellow POW during WWI, after which he successfully resumed his music-hall career and appeared in silent films and theatrical productions. His trademark straw hat, bow tie and cane complemented the elegant grace and joie de vivre that would come to personify French charm and sophistication. The advent of sound film allowed his charisma and talent to come through, and in ...

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Robert Stevenson

(b Madrid, May 5, 1846; d Madrid, July 20, 1908). Spanish composer. He studied elementary piano and theory at the Madrid Conservatory, but then, at his parents' insistence, turned to medicine. However, Barbieri brought him back to a musical career when he conducted a set of Chueca's waltzes, Lamentos de un preso, which commemorated a student escapade. His first theatrical success was La canción de la Lola (1880), which ran for two years at the Teatro de Variedades. He composed about 37 zarzuelas, mostly in one act (género chico), many of them orchestrated by Joaquín Valverde. Chueca was able to capture the local flavour of regions as far apart as Asturias and Andalusia and had the gift of writing facile tunes that immediately appealed to the Madrid public and eventually won the favour of the entire Spanish-speaking world, as well as the esteem of Falla. ...

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Geoffrey Self

(b Hucknall, Aug 27, 1886; d Chichester, Dec 23, 1957). English viola player and composer. He studied violin with Georg Ellenberger and harmony with Ralph Horner, but changed to the viola, for which he found a greater demand in Nottingham. Entering the RAM in 1906, he expected viola to be his main study and was indeed placed with Tertis, but the principal, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, had admired his submitted songs and allocated him to Corder for composition. Coates rapidly came to the forefront of viola players, playing for the Beecham SO and Wood's Queen's Hall Orchestra, of which he was principal viola 1912–19. Chronic neuritis plagued him and in 1919, after Wood dismissed him, he never played again.

His composing reputation had been made early by such songs as Stonecracker John (1909) and by Wood's performance of the Miniature Suite at the 1911 Proms. Thereafter he produced a steady stream of orchestral suites, phantasies, marches and waltzes together with some 160 songs, the last march being completed in ...

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(b Lindfield, Sept 25, 1872; d London, Jan 31, 1951). English theatrical producer. He first worked as an actor in America, then became a manager and producer. He brought Houdini to London and was associated with the presentation of boxing, wrestling, rodeo and circus. He twice produced Max Reinhardt’s religious epic, Das Mirakel (1911 and 1932), for which he commissioned a score from Engelbert Humperdinck. Cochran’s true métier was West End revue; whereas Charlot tended to discover talent and make revue stars, Cochran often presented them in a grander style. Noël Coward wrote, composed and starred in Cochran’s This Year of Grace (1928), which Cochran produced at the London Pavilion, where he staged many successful revues. He later moved towards the creation of an English style of musical comedy when the appeal of the revue dwindled.

Cochran frequently interpolated Broadway hits into his shows, and Rodgers and Hart (...

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Geoffrey Block

[Kaufman, Seymour]

(b New York, June 14, 1929; d New York, Nov 18, 2004). American composer and pianist. The son of Russian immigrants, he began to play the piano at the age of four, and performed recitals at the Steinway and Carnegie halls by seven. He studied counterpoint and orchestration at the New York College of Music and developed a serious interest in jazz, within a few years performing in New York nightclubs with his trio and starting a long recording career as a jazz pianist. A collaboration with the lyricist Joseph Allan McCarthy yielded several song hits between 1952 and 1956, including Why try to change me now?, I'm gonna laugh you right out of my life and Tin Pan Alley, the last of which appeared in Coleman's first Broadway venture, the revue John Murray Anderson's Almanac (1953). By the late 1950s he had produced an impressive list of song standards with lyricist Carolyn Leigh, which included ...

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