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Victor de Pontigny

revised by Paul Sparks

(b Heilbronn, 1802; d Styria, 1890). German jew's harp and guitar player. After an initial lack of success in his native country, he travelled through Switzerland in 1825–6, eventually arriving in Paris where he worked as a guitar virtuoso. In 1827 his op.1 (a set of 12 airs for solo guitar) was published by Richault in Paris, and in the same year he appeared in London as a guitarist and jew's harpist. He produced extremely beautiful effects by performing on 16 jew's harps, having for many years cultivated this instrument in an extraordinary manner. The patronage of the Duke of Gordon induced him to return to London in 1828; but he soon found that the iron jew's harp had so injured his teeth that he could not play without pain, and he therefore spent more time playing the guitar. At length a dentist devised a glutinous covering for his teeth, which enabled him to play his jew's harp again. He was very successful in Scotland and thence went to Bath (...

Article

Paul Attinello

(Raúl)

(b Buenos Aires, Dec 24, 1931; d Cologne, Sept 18, 2008). German composer, film maker and playwright of Argentine birth. Increasingly regarded as among the most important of late 20th-century European composers, his elaborate imagination, bizarre humour and ability to play with almost any idea or system has brought powerful and unexpected drama to the stage and concert hall.

Born into an Argentine-Jewish family with strongly leftist political views, he took theory, singing, conducting, piano, cello and organ lessons with private teachers such as Juan Carlos Paz and Alfredo Schiuma, but was self-taught as a composer. He studied philosophy and literature at the University of Buenos Aires, where Borges was among his lecturers. Although he failed the entrance examinations for the local music conservatory, he became artistic advisor to the Agrupación Nueva Música (Buenos Aires) in 1949. In 1950 he began to compose, seeking ideas that opposed the neo-classical style dictated by Juan Perón’s government. After co-founding the Cinémathètique Argentine and making an unsuccessful attempt to establish an electronic studio, he became a student conductor at the Chamber Opera, chorus director and rehearsal accompanist at the Teatro Colón, music advisor at the University of Buenos Aires, and cinema and photography editor for the journal ...

Article

Ukulele  

Thomas J. Walsh

[‘ukulele; ukulele]

A small four-string instrument of the guitar family. The ukulele is derived from a pair of Portuguese instruments first brought to Hawai’i in the late 1870s by immigrants from the island of Madeira. The ukulele (or ‘ukulele, a Hawaiian term meaning “jumping flea”) developed from the machete, a four-string Madeiran instrument. However, its tuning is taken from the first four strings of the five-string Madeiran rajão.

Ukuleles were first built in Hawai’i by three Madeiran cabinetmakers, Augusto Dias, Manuel Nunes, and Jose do Espirito Santo, all of whom arrived in Hawai’i in 1879. After serving their agricultural contracts, all three eventually settled in Honolulu. By 1885, each was advertising the various instruments he was building. Machetes and rajãoes quickly became known on the islands by a number of other names, most commonly “taro-patch guitars” or “taro-patch fiddles.” By 1888, the four-string instrument was becoming known as the ukulele, and soon the term “taro-patch fiddle” primarily was used to describe the larger five-string instrument. By the early 1890s, the original machete tuning of d’-g’-b’-d” was falling out of favor. Instead, the reentrant tuning of the Madeiran ...