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Gerald Bordman

revised by Thomas S. Hischak

[Gershvin, Israel]

(b New York, Dec 6, 1896; d Beverly Hills, CA, Aug 17, 1983). American lyricist. He submitted light verse to newspapers and periodicals as a student and while working at various jobs before joining his brother George Gershwin to write songs. Their first song to receive a public hearing was The Real American Folk Song, a salute to ragtime, which was introduced by Nora Bayes in Ladies First (1918). Although Gershwin collaborated with other composers (at first under the pseudonym Arthur Francis to avoid being judged by George’s reputation), his close partnership with his brother extended from 1924, when they wrote their first musical comedy, Lady be Good!, until George’s death in 1937. In addition to more than a dozen Broadway shows, including the first musical comedy to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for drama, Of Thee I Sing (1931), they also contributed songs to a number of films. After George’s death Ira worked with a succession of composers, including Weill (...

Article

Thomas L. Gayda

[Will; Williams, Hugh; Milos, André]

(b Vienna, Aug 11, 1894; d New York, Dec 10, 1939). Austrian composer, pianist and conductor. Born into a Jewish family of jewellers, he studied with the operetta composer Richard Heuberger, Robert Fuchs, the musicologist Guido Adler and Franz Schreker. After he left the Vienna Music Academy in 1919, his Zwei phantastische Stücke was given its first performance by the Vienna PO. The following year he received a doctorate in music from Vienna University. While he remained initially faithful to the late-Romantic, Impressionist line, he became the first Austrian composer to introduce jazz idioms into his music. His grotesque ballet-pantomime Baby in der Bar (1928) marked him as one of the prime exponents of the Zeitgeist of the Weimar era.

In 1927 Grosz moved to Berlin and became the artistic director of the new Ultraphon record company, quickly building up its catalogue as a conductor, arranger and pianist. He formed a well-known piano duo with Wilhelm Kauffman and toured Europe as a highly-sought accompanist and conductor. When the National Socialists seized power in ...

Article

Fritz Spiegl

(b Berlin, March 22, 1925; d London, Sept 28, 1959). British artist, illustrator, musician and humorist. Of German birth and Jewish parentage, he was a refugee from Nazi Germany. Educated at Hornsey and Harrow Schools of art, he taught art briefly before devoting himself to a career as a freelance cartoonist. He was a contributor to Lilliput, Tatler and Punch magazines, among other publications. His early drawings suggest an influence of the German illustrators Wihelm Busch (especially his musical cartoons) and Walter Trier. In particular they feature musicians and their instruments, transfigured by Hoffnung’s distinctive imagination, high spirits and sense of fun. His paintings to Ravel’s opera L’enfant et les sortilèges, for which the librettist Colette wrote a special text, were exhibited at the Festival of Britain (1951) and subsequently published. A series of books of musical cartoons appeared almost yearly until Hoffnung’s death, since when five further collections have been published. In the mid-1960s, Halas & Batchelor produced seven animated cartoon films based on these drawings....

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Paris, March 5, 1827; d Saint Germain-en-Laye, May 22, 1905). French composer. He entered the Paris Conservatoire in October 1841, gaining second prize for harmony in 1846, first prize in 1847 and the second Grand Prix in 1849. From 1847 to 1866 he was professor of solfège at the Conservatoire, and from 1859 professor of harmony for military bands. He became director of music at the Portuguese synagogue, and published a collection of Hebrew tunes in 1854. He was an early contributor to Offenbach's Bouffes-Parisiens with the one-act operetta Le duel de Benjamin (1855), followed by Le roi boit (1857) and several more. Les deux arlequins (1865) and Le canard à trois becs (1869) gave him success abroad, and their production at the Gaiety Theatre, London, led to a commission for the three-act Cinderella the Younger (1871), later produced in Paris as ...

Article

Geoffrey Block

(b Hammels Station, Long Island, NY, June 28, 1902; d New York, Dec 30, 1979). American composer. He was the second son of Dr William A. Rodgers (originally Rogazinsky) and Mamie Levy, Russian Jews who had emigrated to the United States in 1860...

Article

William A. Everett

(b Nagykanizsa, July 29, 1887; d New York, Nov 9, 1951). American composer and conductor of Hungarian birth. He was born into a cultured Jewish household: his father was an amateur pianist who spoke four languages, while his mother was a respected writer of poetry and short stories. Romberg studied at various places in the Austro-Hungarian Empire before eventually going to Vienna, where his parents’ intent was for him to study civil engineering. Instead, Romberg focussed on music, working as a coach and accompanist at the Theater an der Wien, and studying composition and orchestration with operetta composer Victor Heuberger, thereby absorbing the world of Viennese operetta. In 1909, he arrived in New York City and found work as a pianist at various restaurants. He formed and conducted a small orchestra at Bustanoby’s, a venue frequented by the theatre world, where he came to the attention of the Shubert brothers who, in ...