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Jelena Jovanović

(b Vranje, Serbia, June 11, 1897; d Feb 21, 1969). Serbian singer (pesmopojka) and song writer. She was one of the most prominent performers of the 20th-century Serbian and Balkan urban vocal tradition. Widely known as a veseljak (lively character), she was respected for her fidelity to local traditions, for her intensely expressive and nuanced vocal style, and for her dedication to bring out the meaning of the texts she sang. She started singing at a very early age; as a young girl she was paid for her singing. She sang in her own home on everyday occasions, to guests, and at family and public celebrations. Her repertory encompassed love, family, and narrative songs, mainly concerning specific events, places, and personalities of Vranje. She is the author of the song ‘Dimitrijo, sine Mitre’, one of the hallmarks of Vranje vocal tradition, which traces its roots in tradition found in written sources from the late 19th century onwards and still practiced today....

Article

Nicholas Tochka

(b Durrës, Albania, Jan 20, 1914; d Tirana, Albania, March 30, 1977). Albanian folk music researcher and composer. Born into an intellectual family, he studied music in Bucharest (1936) and later Milan (1939) before returning to Albania during World War II. Initially, Dheri was appointed music instructor at the high school in Shkodra, where he organized small ensembles and choral groups following the war. In 1949, he was transferred to the Committee for the Arts and Culture in Tirana and, in 1953, to Radio Tirana. During this period, Dheri contributed to the Radio’s sound archives, collected and transcribed folk pieces, created pedagogical texts, and composed light popular waltzes, tangos, and foxtrots. His primary contribution followed his appointment to the newly formed Institute of Folk Culture in 1968. As an editor and the founding director of the national archives for folk music, Dheri oversaw the publication of early systematic collections including ...

Article

Stephen D. Winick

(b Hatboro, PA, July 1, 1969). Traditional Irish musician, composer, and bandleader. Egan’s father was from County Mayo, Ireland, and the family moved there when Séamus was three. He took music lessons with Martin Donaghue, a button accordion player from Ballindine. Seeing the flutists Matt Molloy and James Galway on television encouraged him to play the flute, and he began competing in the All-Ireland championships on flute and whistle. In 1981 his family returned to the Philadelphia area, and he met mick Moloney , who mentored him on mandolin and banjo. Egan continued to compete in the All-Ireland championships, and by the age of 14 he had won titles on four instruments.

Egan has recorded albums as a solo artist and with Moloney and the fiddler Eugene O’Donnell. In the 1980s he joined Moloney’s ensemble The Green Fields of America, and he appears on some of their recordings. In ...

Article

Stephen D. Winick

(b New York, NY, Dec 21, 1951). American traditional Irish accordionist and composer. He began playing the button accordion in his native Brooklyn, at six years old. Two of his uncles were musicians, and his mother encouraged him to take up playing. At age 15 he met the Galway-born accordionist Sean McGlynn, who became his teacher and mentor. In the 1970s he relocated to Maryland, where he began playing with the Washington, DC area band The Irish Tradition, which also featured Brendan Mulvihill and Andy O’Brien. In 1986 he won the all-Ireland championship for button accordion and he and Mulvihill won for accordion/fiddle duet.

Since the 1980s McComiskey has been part of the touring ensemble The Green Fields of America. In the 1980s he formed the Baltimore Ceili Band, a loose group of musicians that congregates for festivals, parties, and community events. The Ceili band has helped revitalize the Irish music scene in the Baltimore area. In the 1990s McComiskey founded the band Trian, with Liz Carroll and Dáithí Sproule, and toured and recorded with them. He has also played and recorded with the Pride of New York....

Article

Laura Otilia Vasiliu

(b Reuseni, Suceava county, Romania, May 2, 1944). Romanian composer, musicologist, and teacher . Rooted in the folklore of Bukovina and in Byzantine liturgical music, furthering the musical environment of his predecessors Ciprian Porumbescu and George Enescu, his works stand at the crossroads of tradition and modernity, having become established through their authentic expression and mastery of form. His personality has been influential in the musical life of Iaşi and the George Enescu University of Arts, which he served as a professor, dean, and rector.

He studied at the George Enescu Conservatory in Iaşi. He graduated in pedagogy and composition under Vasile Spătărelu. He attended composition classes led by Ştefan Niculescu, Aurel Stroe, and Anatol Vieru at the Vacanţele muzicale de la Piatra Neamt (‘Musical Holidays of Piatra Neamţ’, 1972–80), and then he studied with Roman Vlad at the Santa Cecilia Academy in Rome (1980). Up until ...

Article

Karel Steinmetz

(b Ostrava, 7 June 1953). Czech folk singer, poet, and composer. After completing his studies at Gymnasium (1971) and at a school of librarianship, he entered the field of popular music as a writer of lyrics (he has written song texts principally for singers from Ostrava). As a guitarist, violinist, flautist, and accordionist he is entirely self-taught. In the 1980s he began to appear at Czech festivals of folk music, singing songs of his own with their distinctive texts. Gradually he has become one of the most popular of Czech singers. He mainly sings his own songs, but also translations of songs by the Russian composers Vladimir Vysotsky and Bulat Okudzha, and settings of the poems of Aleksandr Blok. He has set, and sung, poems by the Czech poets Petr Bezruč and Jiří Šotola. His songs owe their popularity largely to the fact that he sings of ordinary people living ordinary lives; they are lyrical and epic, and often ironical and extremely funny. Nohavica is fond of using the dialect of the Ostrava and Těšín region. He has also produced successful translations of opera libretti for works performed at the Ostrava Opera (for example, Mozart’s ...

Article

Laura Otilia Vasiliu

(b Sibiu, Romania, March 27, 1940). Romanian composer, professor, and musicologist of German ancestry. His works are inspired by the folklore and academic art of the Transylvanian Saxons, while also manifesting a moderate tendency to assimilate modern idioms. Published especially by German and Swiss houses, his compositions gained him international prestige within German-language circles. Additionally, he pursued his vocation as a researcher by analysing the works of J.S. Bach and of Transylvanian musicians, especially Gabriel Reilich and Paul Richter. He studied at the Conservatory of Cluj (1959–65) with Sigismund Toduţă (composition), Cornel Tăranu (harmony), and Vasile Herman (musical forms). He took the Ph.D. in musicology from the Music Academy of Cluj-Napoca (1978) with a thesis called Contradominanta în creaţia lui W.A. Mozart (‘The Counter-Dominant in the Works of W.A. Mozart’). As a professor in the harmony/composition department of the Cluj-Napoca Conservatory, Türk developed significant treatises and courses, including the book ...