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Matteo Sansone

[Aspri, Orsola]

(b Rome, c1807; d Rome, Sept 30, 1884). Italian composer, singer and conductor. After her father’s death, her mother married the violinist Andrea Aspri and Appignani adopted her stepfather’s surname and used Orsola as her first name. She studied with Valentino Fioravanti. In 1833 she sang Smeton in a performance of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, given by the Roman Accademia Filarmonica at Palazzo Lancellotti; already a member of that academy, she was offered honorary membership of the Accademia di S Cecilia, Rome, in 1842. As a conductor she was active in Rome and Florence (1839). She was also a singing teacher and had among her pupils the tenor Settimio Malvezzi. She married Count Girolamo Cenci-Bolognetti. Her melodrammi include Le avventure di una giornata (1827), I pirati (1843) and Clara di Clevers (1876); she also wrote a Sinfonia, a cantata La redenzione di Roma...


David Griffioen

(b Năsăud, March 25, 1887; d Cluj, Dec 1, 1968). Romanian composer, singer, director and conductor. He began formal studies in Năsăud and continued in 1906 at the conservatory in Cluj (then Kolozsvár). In 1908 he entered the Vienna Music Academy, where he studied singing with Gustav Geiringer and Julius Meixner. After a temporary disruption he enrolled at the National Hungarian Royal Academy of Music in Budapest, studying this time with József Sík. He graduated in 1912, having also earned his licentiate in law from the University of Cluj in 1910.

Bretan’s professional career began at the Bratislava Opera in 1913, followed by a position at the Oradea Opera. In 1917 he settled permanently in Cluj, fulfilling responsibilities as singer, stage director and even briefly director-general (Romanian Opera, 1944–5) for the various resident Hungarian and Romanian opera companies there, until political circumstances forced his retirement in 1948...


(b Mantua, late 16th century; d Assisi, Aug 29, 1642). Italian composer, choirmaster, violinist and singer. He was a member of the Franciscan order. His Mantuan origins are apparent from documents at Bergamo. He was first active at the Gonzaga court in Mantua, where he may have worked under Monteverdi. He was perhaps among the musicians accompanying Princess Eleonora Gonzaga to Vienna for her wedding in 1622 to the Emperor Ferdinand II. From at least 1626 to 1629 he was in Vienna as musicista da camera to the emperor and in that post played an active role in the festivities in Prague for the coronation of the emperor's son, Ferdinand III, as King of Bohemia in 1627. It is likely that he remained in the emperor's service until early 1631, as can again be seen from documents at Bergamo.

On 13 July 1631 he was in Bergamo to take part in a Vespers service at S Maria Maggiore as a trial for an appointment there. He was accepted and on 17 July signed a three-year contract to serve as contralto and violinist at an annual salary of 840 lire – a figure surpassed only by the salaries of the ...


Geoffrey Norris

(b Borisovka, Kursk govt., 1766; d nr Kursk, 23 April/May 5, 1813). Russian composer, conductor and singer. Born into a peasant family on the estate of Count Sheremet′yev, Degtyaryov was admitted at the age of seven into the count’s choir school. At 15 he was taking principal roles in opera, and in 1789 he became Konzertmeister, with responsibility for vocal music. About 1790 he probably visited Italy with Giuseppe Sarti, from whom he had some musical training. There is also evidence to suggest that he undertook a period of musical study with Antonio Sapienze (1755–1829), a leading teacher at the St Petersburg theatre school and the Smolny Institute. On his return to Russia he was made Kapellmeister to Sheremet′yev’s court. In 1803 he was liberated from his serfdom and moved to Moscow. Two years later he published in St Petersburg a translation of the second largest edition of Vincenzo Manfredini’s ...


Ivan Čavlović

(b Zvornik, Dec 17, 1906; d Sarajevo, 1990). Bosnian-Herzegovinian composer, conductor, and concert singer. He started his musical career as a choirboy in the choir Sveta Cecilija at Sarajevo Cathedral. He studied solo-singing in the class of Nina Mastergazi and Leo Pešek at the Music School in Sarajevo. In 1927 he studied solo-singing in the class of Milan Reizer at the Academy of Music in Zagreb. He was a self-taught conductor and composer. From 1928 he conducted amateur choirs in Sarajevo, with which he performed most of his own compositions. He attained great success with the Croatian choir Trebević. After World War II he was an employee of Zavod za zaštitu malih autorskih prava (the ‘Institute for Protection of Authors’ Rights’) and a conductor of the choir Vaso Miskin Crni.

Demetar set harmonizations of folk tunes and based compositions on Bosnian folklore. His harmonic language is traditional but with a certain freedom in the elaboration of extended tonal harmony. He particularly enriched Bosnian-Herzegovinian choral literature....


[Jacob ]

(b Graz, July 20, 1762; d Djakovar [now Đakovo], March 24, 1826). Austrian composer, singer and choirmaster. He joined Schikaneder’s company at Vienna’s Theater auf der Wieden in or around 1789, acted and sang tenor roles and, from the mid-1790s, supplied the theatre with Singspiele and incidental music. After the death of his first wife in 1806 he left Vienna and went to Djakovar, Slavonia, where he spent the rest of his life as choirmaster at the cathedral. On 7 January 1807 he married Sophie Weber, thereby becoming Mozart’s posthumous brother-in-law. After Haibel’s death, his widow moved to Salzburg and lived with her sister Constanze; Sophie Haibel had been close to Mozart in his last months, as is made clear by the moving report she wrote in 1825 for Constanze’s second husband, G.N. Nissen.

Haibel’s first score for Schikaneder, the ballet Le nozze disturbate, was given no fewer than 39 times in ...


W.H. Husk

revised by Bernarr Rainbow and Leanne Langley

(b London, June 21, 1785; d London, Feb 18, 1846). English singer, conductor and composer. He was a Chapel Royal chorister from 1793 to 1801 and then a violinist in the Covent Garden theatre orchestra; he also taught singing and was appointed deputy lay vicar at Westminster Abbey (1803) and Gentleman of the Chapel Royal (1805). In 1814 he was appointed Master of the Choristers at St Paul’s Cathedral, and in 1817 Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal, holding both posts until his death. A harsh disciplinarian and a confirmed pluralist, Hawes was too much engaged in other pursuits to devote himself to the boys’ education and welfare, though they lived at his house. He was an original associate of the Philharmonic Society and an active promoter of the Regent’s (later Royal) Harmonic Institution, becoming a principal shareholder in 1823–7. For a short time he was lay vicar of Westminster Abbey (...


Joseph A. Bomberger

(b Prenzlau, Brandenburg, Sept 21, 1849; d New York, 1919). German singer, pianist, composer, and conductor, active in the USA. Herman received his musical education at the Stern Conservatory from Heinrich Ehrlich (piano), Friedrich Kiel (composition) and Julius Stern (singing). From 1871–8 he taught voice and conducted in New York. In 1878, he was called back to Berlin as temporary head of the Stern Conservatory. After being at the Stern Conservatory, he returned to New York in 1881. Herman conducted the Liedertafel from 1884 and was instructor in music and professor of sacred history at the Union Theological Seminary from 1887, before moving to Boston in 1898 as conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society. He returned in 1900 to Berlin, where he conducted the Meyer Symphony Concerts. Until 1917 he lived in Rapallo, Italy, then moved back to New York. He toured Europe and America with Lilli Lehmann giving recitals and lectures on Wagner....



Andrew Lamb

[Ronger, Florimond]

(b Houdain, June 30, 1825; d Paris, Nov 3, 1892). French composer, singer and conductor. On his father's death in 1835, his mother took him to Paris. He found employment at the church of St Roch, where he learnt the rudiments of singing, organ and harmony; he then briefly studied harmony with Elwart at the Conservatoire and later composition with Auber. From 1839 to 1845 he was organist at the Bicêtre asylum and began a music class for the patients, writing songs, choruses and other entertainments for them. For eight years from 1845 he was organist at St Eustache.

For his theatrical career he took the name Hervé, gradually gaining recognition through his Don Quichotte et Sancho Pança (1848) and engagements at the Théâtre de l’Odéon and Théâtre du Palais-Royal, where he appeared as author, composer, conductor, actor, tenor buffo singer and producer, as required. His five-act ...


Manolis Seiragakis

(b Corfu, Feb 27, 1864; d London, Feb 25, 1932). Greek composer, pianist, music director, and choir director. He studied in Naples (Conservatorio S Pietro a Majella) and right afterwards he settled in Athens, teaching music and conducting choirs. His exuberant musical activity fertilized the theatre life of the Greek capital. His rivalry with the choir director Lodovico de Mento led the theatre troupes of the era to engage choirs and small orchestras performing live music on stage. Soon he composed incidental music not only for Komeidyllio (a Greek version of the French vaudeville), but also for ancient dramas. He was conductor of the first opera troupe in Athens and also composed choral church music, which, however, elicited strong resistance. He published a music magazine (Mousiki Ephimeris) and he wrote a lot of songs setting to music works of significant Greek poets. He also collaborated with the vaudeville author Dimitrios Kokkos, who was a self-taught composer. In ...


Peter Branscombe

(b Steinkirchen, Aug 12, 1751; d Munich, Oct 21, 1805). Austrian composer, singer, violinist and conductor. He studied at Linz before moving to Vienna, where he probably continued his studies but also taught. In 1781 (Wurzbach) or 1782 (Lipowsky) he married the singer Johanna Roithner (who later sang at the Munich Opera until at least 1811). The couple were at Brünn (now Brno) in 1783 as members of Waizhofer's company, and in 1785 they moved on to Linz, where Lasser directed the company in the 1786–7 season. In 1788, after a brief season as director at Eszterháza, he rejoined Waizhofer, then at Graz. In 1791 the Lassers went to Munich, where he distinguished himself at court by singing arias in all four registers, and by playing a violin concerto. Apart from a successful guest appearance as singer and violinist in Berlin in 1797 he remained in Munich for the remainder of his life, well loved and respected as both man and musician....


Helene Wessely

(b Bologna, March 27, 1772; d Florence, Feb 18, 1846). Italian composer, conductor and singer. He had his first training as a singer in Bologna from Giuseppe and Ferdinando Tibaldi. From the age of 14 he was taught singing by Lorenzo Gibelli and composition by Stanislao Mattei. He began as an opera composer there in 1790 with Il divertimento in campagna and from 1792 was first tenor at the Italian theatres in Barcelona and Madrid. On 2 October 1795 he took part in a public concert in Bologna and in 1796 went to Potsdam as Kapellmeister of the Italian Opera. In 1799 Domenico Guardasoni called him as Kapellmeister to the National Theatre in Prague, where he became acquainted with the aristocratic Kinsky and Lobkowitz families. From 1805 to 1814 he lived as a singing teacher in Vienna, where he knew Haydn, Beethoven and Salieri, as well as Leopold Kozeluch, Joseph Gelinek, Gyrowetz, Gelli, the music publisher Mecchetti and the singers J.M. Vogl and Giuseppe Siboni....


Ken Rattenbury

revised by Alyn Shipton

(b London, Jan 12, 1900; d London, Feb 1, 1971). English bandleader, clarinettist, singer and composer. From 1919 he organized dance bands with his brother Syd, including Syd Roy’s Lyricals; they performed in London at Oddenino’s, Rector’s, the Hammersmith Palais and the Café de Paris, and at Rector’s in Paris. In 1928 the brothers toured South Africa and Australia (1929), then returned to England to play in variety theatres before touring Germany. In 1931 Harry formed his own band and, after touring (1933), held residencies at the Café Anglais and the Mayfair Hotel in London. He continued to tour extensively in theatres until 1939 and throughout World War II but after 1945 never regained his former status in London’s clubland. Roy was essentially a show-band leader, an energetic front man, a light, sometimes comic, singer, and a clarinettist in the style of Ted Lewis. Although hardly a jazz musician himself he employed as sidemen a number of players who later became prominent in jazz. His signature tune, ...


Katy Romanou


(b Litochoro, Pieria, Greece [then, Ottoman Empire], 1854; d Athens, Greece, 15 December 1938).Greek cantor, choral conductor, arranger of church music, music teacher, and composer. He studied philology at the University of Athens and was instructed in both Byzantine and Western music. He taught music in schools and in private lessons. From 1904 to 1907 he taught H.J.W. Tillyard the New Method of Byzantine notation.

In the controversy called ‘The Music Question’ (whether church music should preserve its monophonic texture and neumatic notation or become homophonic notated in stave notation), Sakellarides was an enthusiastic exponent of the second option. Gifted with a flexible tenor voice, he attracted large congregations in central Athenian churches, including the cathedral, performing his own versions of liturgical chant, the product of his elementary knowledge of harmony. He attracted also wrathful criticism from purists.

Collaborating with Athens University professor Georgios Mistriotis, founder in ...


Michal Ben-Zur


(b Heidelberg, Nov 13, 1897; d Jerusalem, Jan 15, 1974). Israeli composer, conductor, singer and keyboard player of German birth. He studied the organ with Philipp Wofrum and composition with Richard Strauss. From 1920 to 1926 he held the position of conductor at the Hamburg Neues Stadt-Theater, and from 1931 to 1932 was baritone and stage director at the Deutsche Musikbühne. He emigrated to Palestine in 1933, where he was appointed programme director of the newly founded Palestine Broadcasting Service (PBS, later Kol Israel [‘The Voice of Israel’]), a position he held until his retirement in 1962; he founded the PBS Orchestra (later the Kol Israel Orchestra) in 1938.

Many of Salomon’s early works were destroyed. His music from 1933 is tonal with modal inflections, combining European traditions with folk influences to create a light, accessible style. The Sepharadic Suite (1961) incorporates Spanish melodies; popular material is also used in the Second Symphony ‘Leilot be’Cna’an (‘Nights of Canaan’, ...