(b Grossfurra, Thuringia, Oct 25, 1643; d Gotha, Feb 20, 1676). German composer and writer. After initially going to school in his native town he was sent in 1656 to Eisenach for three years. There he attended the town school, the staff of which included Theodor Schuchardt, a highly respected teacher of music and Latin. From 1659 to 1662 Agricola studied for his school-leaving examination at the Gymnasium of Gotha; the headmaster there was Andreas Reyher, who was the co-author of the Gothaer Schulmethodus, an educational work which set an example for the teaching of music too. In 1662–3 Agricola studied philosophy at Leipzig University and from 1663 to 1668 theology and philosophy at Wittenberg, where he was awarded a master's degree by the faculty of philosophy. His four recorded scholarly essays dating from this period are lost. He had begun to learn the fundamentals of music during his school years, and he may also have been a pupil of the Kantor of the Thomaskirche, Leipzig, Sebastian Knüpfer. He continued his musical training at Wittenberg, completing the study of composition under the guidance of Italian musicians resident there. Returning to his native Thuringia he was able to turn his musical abilities to good use in the Kapelle of the Schwarzburg-Sondershausen court until in ...
revised by Peter Wollny
(b Bay Shore, NY, April 7, 1946). American composer, performer, instrument builder and ethnomusicologist. She received the BA from Sarah Lawrence College, and the MA and PhD from Wesleyan University, where she studied Indonesian and Indian music. She has performed with the ensembles of Philip Glass, Jon Gibson, Alvin Lucier, Philip Corner and Daniel Goode. In 1976 she co-founded, with Corner and Goode, the Gamelan Son of Lion, New York, a new music collective and repertory ensemble under her direction. In addition, she has built several Javanese-style iron gamelans, including the instruments used by the Gamelan Son of Lion and Gamelan Encantada, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Benary’s compositional output has been primarily in the areas of ensemble and chamber music, and music for the theatre. She has described herself as a ‘part-time minimalist who also likes to write melody’. Many of her works integrate world music forms, structures and instruments with traditional Western materials. Her works for gamelan ensemble, which number more than 30, have been performed internationally. ...
Lyndesay G. Langwill
revised by Rosemary Williamson
(b Newcastle upon Tyne, May 19, 1878; d Great Missenden, Nov 2, 1958). English collector and historian of instruments and composer. He was educated in Hanover (1892) and as a Macfarren scholar at the Royal Academy of Music (1893–1902, ARAM 1902), where he studied composition with Corder. After serving as assistant music master at Winchester College (1909–22), he returned to the RAM in 1922 as professor of harmony and counterpoint, becoming a Fellow of the RAM in the same year; he held the professorship until 1940.
Carse’s early compositions include an orchestral prelude to Byron’s Manfred, a dramatic cantata, The Lay of the Brown Rosary and two symphonies; his later works, for student orchestras and beginners, are light, tuneful and individual, and ideally suited to their purpose as teaching material. His reputation, however, rests on his study of the history of instruments and the orchestra, and on his collection of some 350 old wind instruments, which he gave to the Horniman Museum, London, in ...
John Chalmers and Brian McLaren
[O'Hara, Kenneth Vincent Gerard]
(b Portland, OR, May 5, 1917; d San Diego, CA, Feb 13, 1994). American composer, instrument inventor and theorist. He studied the cello, the piano and wind instruments at an early age. A composition student of Charles Wakefield Cadman, he began to compose using quarter-tones and just intonation during the 1930s. Although ill health prevented him from attending college, he taught himself electrical engineering and invented pioneering electro-acoustical instruments, including the microtonal keyboard oboe (1936), the amplifying clavichord (1940), the amplified cello (1941) and the electric keyboard drum (around 1945). During the 1960s he designed and built a 60-tone electronic organ with an ‘elastic tuning’ system that automatically justified traditional musical intervals.
In 1962 M. Joel Mandelbaum’s 19-tone compositions and Ervin Wilson’s microtonal instrument patents introduced Darreg to new tuning systems. He began an intensive programme of musical exploration and discovered that all equal temperaments have uniquely valuable musical properties (‘moods’). To hear these scales, he refretted guitars to 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 24 and 31 notes per octave and constructed metallophones with 5, 10, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24 and 53 notes per octave. During the 1970s he created justly-tuned Megalyra and Kosmolyra amplified steel-guitar-like instruments, the sound of which has been described as ‘tuned thunder’. His last compositions use retunable MIDI synthesizers....
Paul R. West
(b Jackson, MI, Oct 8, 1950). American composer, theorist, author, and instrument inventor. He began his career in composition and instrument design in 1970, having received little formal composition training. Interested in just intonation, he founded the performing ensemble Other Music in 1975 with classmates Dale Soules and Henry Rosenthal at the New College of California in San Francisco. The trio originally improvised and also performed from written scores. Inspired by studying intonation with lou Harrison , Doty began working with various metallophones, exploring their justly tuned capabilities. These investigations led to the creation of an American gamelan, which consisted of a set of metallophones, wooden marimbas, bells, and synthesizers that were built or adapted by Doty and four other group members. The instruments were tuned in seven-limit just intonation encompassing a 14-tone-to-the-octave scale developed by Doty and Soules. The Other Music ensemble began to perform on the American gamelan by ...
(b Oakland, CA, June 24, 1901; d San Diego, Sept 3, 1974). American composer, theorist, instrument maker and performer. He dedicated most of his life to implementing an alternative to equal temperament, which he found incapable of the true consonance his ear and essentially tonal aesthetic demanded. He invented an approach to just intonation he called ‘monophony’; realizing that traditional instruments and performers would be inimical to his system, he designed and constructed new and adapted instruments, developed notational systems, and trained performing groups wherever he was living and working. By the 1940s he had transformed a profound antipathy to the European concert tradition into the idea of ‘corporeality’, emphasizing a physical and communal quality in his music.
Growing up in the American Southwest, Partch had piano lessons and played well enough to accompany silent films in Albuquerque. By 1920 he had returned to California, where he spent the next 13 years as a proofreader, piano teacher and violist. During this period he began to research intonation, sparked by his discovery of Helmholtz's ...
(b Fermo, June 30, 1671; d Beijing, Dec 10, 1746). Italian composer, theorist and instrument maker . He was the first Lazarist missionary to settle in China, and contributed to the cultural exchange between China and the West during the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. He was educated in Rome and arrived in China in 1711 after an arduous nine-year journey. There he succeeded the Portuguese Jesuit Tomás Pereira as court musician to Emperor Kangxi. Pedrini remained in China until his death, working closely with the emperor and simultaneously fulfilling his religious life and missionary goals. Life in the Chinese court was politically complex, and Pedrini was deeply involved in intrigues between the emperor, the Jesuits and Rome during the Rites controversy. Despite earning Kangxi’s esteem, he was twice imprisoned by the emperor.
There were many harpsichords at the Chinese court, gifts from foreign visitors, and there is evidence that Pedrini himself built instruments in China. His musical abilities were highly regarded by the emperor, who declared Pedrini’s lack of the Chinese language to be unimportant, since ‘harpsichords are tuned with the hands, and not with the tongue’. Pedrini’s op.3 sonatas (MS, Beijing National Library; the title-page bears the anagrammatic name ‘Nepridi’) are his only known extant compositions; they are strongly influenced by (and include several quotations from) Corelli’s op.5 set, to which they pay homage in the style, number, structure and types of movements. Pedrini also completed the fifth volume of ...
George J. Buelow, Maribel Meisel, and Philip R. Belt
(b Hohnstein, Saxony, Aug 10, 1699; d Nordhausen, May 20, 1782). German organist, composer, keyboard instrument designer and music theorist.
George J. Buelow
After early training in music from his father, he was sent in 1706 to nearby Dresden, where he joined the royal chapel as a soprano and took keyboard lessons from the Kapellmeister, J.C. Schmidt. In 1709 ill health forced him to live for a while with his godfather Hentschel in Bischofswerda. Returning to Dresden in 1710, on Schmidt’s recommendation he was appointed, together with the slightly younger C.H. Graun, Ratsdiskantist (town discantist). With his change of voice he enrolled at the Kreuzschule, where according to his autobiography (see Marpurg) he studied, among other subjects, fugue with Schmidt. He did not say, however, with whom he studied the organ, but he reported practising on the instruments in the Kreuz- and Sophienkirchen as well as on an organ in the royal residence. In ...
Wolfgang Maria Hoffmann
(Alcantara) [Josef Anton]
(b Häselgehr, July 18, 1810; d Salzburg, Jan 25, 1882). Austrian composer, music theorist, organist, choirmaster and instrument maker. He was musically mainly self-taught; at the age or 9 he learnt to play the piano and organ, as well as the violin, harp, flute, clarinet and horn. When he was 11 he took lessons in harmony and basso continuo from P. Mauritius Gasteiger in Reutte. He attended the Gymnasium in Hall (1824–30), and took some organ and piano lessons from the organist Ignaz Heinz. He entered the Franciscan monastery of Salzburg in 1830 under the name of Peter von Alcantara, and was ordained in 1834. From 1837 to 1840 he was organist and choirmaster in Bolzano and Innsbruck, and he spent the rest of his life in the Franciscan monastery in Salzburg.
Singer became famous for the building of his ‘Pansymphonikon’ in 1845; this was a keyboard instrument with sets of reeds, two manuals and 42 registers which imitated an entire orchestra. He wrote contemplative works, a treatise on choral singing entitled ...