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Article

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 ...

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

(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...

Article

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....

Article

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 ...

Article

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. ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

John Snelson

(Peirce)

(b Teddington, Dec 16, 1899; d Blue Harbour, Jamaica, March 26, 1973). English composer, lyricist, librettist and performer. Born into a family of keen amateur musicians, he made his first professional appearance as an actor in The Goldfish in 1911, achieving great public recognition with The Vortex (1924) as both playwright and leading actor. Many of his plays have become standards of the repertory and often include individual songs, most famously with ‘Someday I’ll find you’ from Private Lives and the integrated musical numbers in his series of one-act plays, Tonight at 8.30. As a singer he remains best known for those recordings of his own songs made in the 1950s, and associated with his cabaret performances first at the Café de Paris in London and then the Desert Inn in Las Vegas. The clipped pronunciation, light baritone with much use of head tones, and rhythmic licence have become instantly recognizable trademarks, much copied and parodied....

Article

Raoul F. Camus

(b Naples, Italy, June 21, 1871; d New York, Aug 15, 1952). American conductor, impresario, and composer of Italian origin. He studied music at the conservatory in Naples, and by the age of 17 was conductor of the city’s municipal band. He left this position after eight years to play trombone in another band during its American tour. Encouraged by the wealth of performing opportunities in the USA, he recruited 40 musicians during a trip to Italy in 1902, and then traveled with them to New York, where the band’s opening concert was well received. In the next few years he toured the USA and Canada. He appeared on the Chautauqua circuit from 1910 to 1916. While pursuing his band activities, he organized an opera company in 1918 that continued for five years. The Depression brought about a decline in professional bands, and in 1936 he became conductor of the New York City Symphonic Orchestra, formed under the auspices of the WPA. A year later he became bandmaster of the New York State Symphonic Band, also a WPA group. In ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Cugat Mingall de Brú y Denolfeo, Francisco de Asís Javier]

(b Gerona, Jan 1, 1900; d Barcelona, Oct 27, 1990). Spanish bandleader, violinist and arranger, active in America. Cugat’s family moved to Cuba when he was five. A child prodigy, he was playing the violin in Havana cafés by the age of seven or eight, and later studied formally in Berlin and peformed with the Berlin PO. He arrived in New York City in 1921 and formed a tango orchestra, and then moved to Hollywood, taking up a life-long hobby as caricaturist before returning to New York with a contract at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1930. Despite his European origins, Cugat became the most commercially famous name in Latin music during the 1930s and 40s, especially among non-Latino North Americans, and his Latin orchestra remained resident at the Waldorf Astoria through the next decade.

Cugat did not pretend to perform authentic Latin American music, yet his lush orchestral arrangements helped popularize Cuban and other Latin American sounds in mainstream North America, earning him the title of the ‘King of the Rhumba’. Among his most famous recordings are ...

Article

Philip L. Scowcroft

(b London, Sept 4, 1899; d Bournemouth, Dec 6, 1973). English composer, organist and conductor. He showed precocious ability on the violin, cello, piano and organ and as a conductor; by the age of 20 he had gained experience in London theatres and cinemas and later was the organist at the Shepherd’s Bush Pavilion. He became head of Boosey & Hawkes’s Light Music department. His compositions included ballad-type songs, piano miniatures, music for film and radio, and he occasionally wrote for the theatre.

He is best remembered, however, for his orchestral works. These have a characteristic sparkle, even whimsicality, displayed in titles like Dance of an Ostracised Imp, The Boulevardier and the overture Punchinello, all of which achieved great popularity. Apart from these single-movement works Curzon also contributed significantly to the repertory of the light concert suite: his Robin Hood Suite ends with a memorable march in the manner of Eric Coates. Much of his work displays Spanish or Hungarian colour, although he never visited either country, and several movements show a gift for period pastiche. His orchestration is imaginative: accordion and harp join with woodwind and strings in ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(Louis Paul)

(b Paris, April 24, 1877; d Paris, Feb 14, 1955). French composer. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire and with Fauré and Messager. He began writing for the Paris popular theatre and achieved popular success with Avant-hier matin (1905). Several subsequent operettas had international acclaim, including Son p'tit frère (1907) and La reine s'amuse (1912), the latter of which contained his greatest domestic song success, ‘Ah! la troublante volupté’. These became Wild Geese and The Naughty Princess in London where Cuvillier enjoyed a run of popularity from 1918 to 1920. The greatest of his London successes was the operetta Der lila Domino (Leipzig, 1912), composed by a Frenchman to a German libretto and enjoying huge popularity throughout the British Empire. Cuvillier composed light, insinuating music, distinguished by typically French phrasing.

(selective list)

all operettas or musical comedies

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Szepesvárallya [now Spišská Nová Ves, Slovakia], May 14, 1842; d Vienna, Oct 27, 1894). Hungarian composer. At the age of 15 he was performing as a pianist in Russia; then he became a music teacher, and later a conductor in Wiener Neustadt (1864–5), Innsbruck, Trieste, and at the Carltheater in Vienna. He then entered military service, becoming bandmaster of several Austro-Hungarian infantry regiments. During the 1880s and early 90s he conducted ‘Monster Concerts’ in the Prater in Vienna, and he composed much successful dance and salon music, and several operettas, of which the first, Pfingsten in Florenz (1884), was the most successful. Around 1889–90 he arranged dances on themes from The Yeomen of the Guard and The Gondoliers (for Bosworth & Co.), at the time when these works were being performed in Germany.

(selective list)

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Minsk, April 17, 1883; d London, June 2, 1947). British composer and bandleader. His father, Eduard Darewski, was a Polish singing professor. Herman Darewski was educated in London and studied music in Vienna (1897–1900). After his first successful songs he joined the publishers Francis, Day & Hunter (1906), for whom he wrote music hall, pantomime and musical comedy songs, including Sister Susie's sewing shirts for soldiers (1914). He composed a series of successful revues, his style concentrating on light, undemanding and rhythmically engaging songs. In 1919 he formed a publishing company, which was short-lived, and a successful band in the style of the American dance bands then in vogue. He became musical director at the resorts of Bridlington (1924–6, 1933–9) and Blackpool (1927–30) and at a London cinema (1930–32). His brother Max Darewski (1894–1929...

Article

John Snelson

[Parr-Davies, Harry]

(b Briton Ferry, May 24, 1914; d London, Oct 14, 1955). Welsh composer and lyricist. He learned the organ from Walford Davies, and his impressive piano skills gained him the role of accompanist to Gracie Fields when he was 18. He was her principal accompanist until 1945 and wrote many of her songs, especially for film, including the title number of Sing as we Go (1934) which became one of Field’s defining performances. Film songs written for George Formby include ‘In my Little Snapshot Album’ (I See Ice, 1938). Davies toured extensively with Fields, including America (1937) and Canada (1940), but left her in 1945, having already established himself as a composer for musical theatre. He contributed songs to the revue Full Swing and additional music to a revival of Kerker’s The Belle of New York, both in 1942. The following year he had a major success with ...

Article

Simon Collier

(b Buenos Aires, Dec 11, 1899; d Mar del Plata, Mar 11, 1980). Argentine tango violinist, bandleader and composer. The son of an Italian immigrant proprietor of a private conservatory in Buenos Aires, he served his apprenticeship in tango bands such as those of Eduardo Arolas (1918–19) and Osvaldo Fresedo (1919–20). In 1923 he formed his first sextet, which included his brothers Francisco (piano) and Emilio (second violin). The band remained a sextet until 1930, after which it enlarged to between 10 and 14 instrumentalists; and this remained its standard size until De Caro’s retirement (1954). One of the best-loved dance bands of the tango’s ‘Golden Age’ (1920–50), it made successful trips to Brazil (1927), Italy and France (1931) and Chile (1937). With its clarity, meticulous phrasing, careful instrumental balance and sophisticated arrangements, it pioneered the ‘evolutionist’ trend in tango music, contrasting with the ‘traditionalist’ tendency favoured by more conservative bandleaders. Like his brother Francisco, De Caro was an expert arranger and composer who made notable contributions to the tango repertory. His autobiography was published as ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Graslitz [now Kraslice], Bohemia, July 8, 1857; d Dresden, Sept 24, 1910). German composer and conductor. The son of a woodwind instrument maker, he attended the music school in Graslitz for three years and then (1874 to 1879) studied the clarinet with Julius Pisařowitz at the Prague Conservatory. In 1880 he became theatre conductor in Brno and was subsequently at various other German theatres before he went to the Carl Schultze-Theater in Hamburg in 1883. There he met the singer Anna Maria Eppich (1864–1919), whom he married in 1886 after the wide success of his first operetta Don Cesar; this work, which used the same story as Wallace’s Maritana, was performed throughout Germany and Austria and as far afield as the USA. In 1893 Dellinger became chief conductor at the Residenz-Theater in Dresden, where further operettas by him were produced with limited success. In later years he suffered from financial worries and consequent overwork, and in ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Bucharest, April 3, 1889; d Bucharest, March 28, 1949). Romanian violinist and composer. He studied at the Bucharest Conservatory (1902–6) with Kiriac-Georgescu (theory and solfège), Rudolf Malcher, Gheorghe A. Dinicu and Carl Flesch (violin), Dimitrie A. Dinicu (chamber music) and Alfonso Castaldi (orchestra) and later with Cecilia Nitzulescu-Lupu and Vasile Filip (violin). He was a violinist in the orchestra of the Ministry of Public Instruction (1906–8) and solo violinist with the Bucharest PO, directed popular music concerts (1906–46) and was leader of the Bucharest Pro Musica (1938–40). In addition, he made tours abroad, collected and arranged Romanian popular melodies and composed several pieces for violin and piano. Among these Hora staccato (1906) has achieved particular popularity as a violin encore; others include Hora spiccato, Hora de concert, Improvisation à la Dinicu, Hora martisorului, Hora de la Chiţorani...

Article

Philip L. Scowcroft

(b London, June 5, 1918; d Suffolk, May 9, 1992). English arranger, composer and pianist. He studied at the RAM, then, as a pianist, began broadcasting in 1946, latterly in a duo with Edward Rubach. He was perhaps best known on radio as an arranger of folk and popular tunes, film and musical comedy themes for orchestra, sometimes with chorus. He was skilled at finding novel approaches to his arrangements for such BBC radio programmes as ‘Melodies for You’ and the long-running ‘Friday Night is Music Night’, and also for his own sextet and trio. Some are so inventive as to straddle the boundary between arrangement and composition, like the London Rhapsody for piano and orchestra and the ‘kindergarten fresco’ Ourselves When Young.

Among his own compositions are the entertainment pieces for brass band, Cornet Cascade and Jolly Roger, and a suite in the manner of Coates, Scènes du ballet...