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Charles Hamm

revised by Kimberly Greene

(b London, England, March 20, 1774; d London, England, Feb 17, 1856). English tenor and composer. He made his debut as a boy soprano at Covent Garden in 1787. He sang in Europe after his voice broke, returning to England at the turn of the century, where he established a reputation as one of the country’s leading tenors. He traveled to the United States in the autumn of 1840 and, at the age of 68, “surpassed all expectations” with the “pathos, sublimity, power, and wonderful execution” of his voice. He appeared first in concert, with a selection of tenor and baritone airs from opera and oratorio mixed with popular ballads. His American operatic debut, at the Park Theatre in New York, was in Stephen Storace’s The Siege of Belgrade, and he went on to re-create many of his famous roles, in Charles Horn’s The Devil’s Bridge, Thomas Dibdin’s The Cabinet, and Weber’s Der Freischütz. At one point he astonished audiences and critics by appearing in seven demanding roles in less than two weeks....

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Biancamaria Brumana

Translator : Fabio Morabito

(b Florence, 16 July 1804; d Paris, 20 Aug 1863). Italian composer and singing teacher. He settled in Paris about 1830, the year when Antonio Pacini published a collection of six romances dedicated to Maria Malibran. Known as the ‘Bellini of the romance’, Masini wrote over 400 works in this genre intended for the high Parisian society of the July Monarchy. His works were often collected in luxurious albums offered as a gift on the first day of the year. Among Masini’s favourite poets to set to music are Émile Barateau, Amable Tastu, and Laure Jourdain; only a single Masini romance is based on a text by Victor Hugo (Le papillon et la fleur). The success of his romances (published mainly by Latte, Meissonier, and Colombier) was enhanced by the collaboration with famous illustrators such as Jules David and Achille Devéria. The latter provided lithographic illustrations for the editions’ frontispieces, conceived in harmony with the texts and musical settings. Masini’s melodies are elegant, transparent, and light-hearted. They give voice to a Romanticism tinged with melancholy and delicate hues (as one can appreciate in ...

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

Ian Mikyska

(b Boskovice, 19 Jan 1984).Czech composer and performer (voice, accordion, and tap dance). She studied the accordion (2004–10) and composition (2007–8) at the Brno Conservatory, and composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (with martin smolka and Peter Graham[1]). She also studied as an exchange student at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the California Institute of the Arts (with michael pisaro), the Universität der Künste Berlin (with Marc Sabat), and Columbia University (with george e. lewis).

While she often works with elements outside of music, there is almost always an intense engagement with direct listening, often arrived at through intense focus on very limited material. Sources for her work include Morse code, maps of garments which she turns into scores (Shirt for Harp, Oboe, and Accordion; Jacket for Ensemble), field recordings which she notates descriptively and then asks musicians to interpret the notation (...