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Ruth Pincoe

(b Norwich, April 11, 1912). Canadian composer, theorist and conductor of English origin. He moved to Canada in 1928, becoming a Canadian citizen in 1930. His composition teachers have included Alfred Whitehead in Montreal and Paul Hindemith at Yale University (1952–3). He also studied conducting with Willem van Otterloo in Utrecht (1956). From 1946 until his retirement in 1977, he taught at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He also conducted the Queen’s SO (1946–54), and founded and conducted both the Kingston Choral Society (1953–7) and the New SO of Kingston (1954–7).

George’s music is in a 20th-century idiom characterized by traditional formal structures and modal harmonies, and influenced by his studies of ethnomusicology and the structural aspects of music. His operas are large-scale works based on historical events with librettos adapted from contemporary writing. He has also composed many choral pieces....

Article

Erik Levi

(b Czernowitz [now Chernovtsy, Ukraine], Oct 26, 1888; d Vienna, Oct 12, 1960). Austrian theatre historian and librettist . He went to Vienna in 1907, studying German, philosophy and musicology (under Guido Adler) at the university and practical music at the academy. In 1908 he became a private pupil of Robert Fuchs and also studied operatic production at the Vienna Hofoper. In 1910 he became Max Reinhardt’s assistant for a production of the second part of Goethe’s Faust at the Deutsche Theater, Berlin. After war service he was appointed librarian at the Austrian National Library, where he founded a theatre archive in 1922 and a film archive in 1929; he initiated studies in theatre history at Vienna University in 1947. During the last years of his life he was accorded many national and international awards.

Although Gregor left important monographs on the history of Vienna’s theatres, on Richard Strauss’s operas and on the broad cultural history of theatre and of opera, he is probably best known as the librettist of Richard Strauss’s ...

Article

Christopher Smith

(b Maillane, Bouches-du-Rhône, Sept 8, 1830; d Maillane, March 25, 1914). Provençal poet and philologist . The son of a prosperous landowner, he devoted his life to the promotion of the cultural values of Provençal. His most famous work is the rural epic Mirèio (1859) which Michel Carré used as the basis for the libretto of the five-act opera (sometimes described as an ‘opéra-dialogué’) Mireille, set by Gounod. This was first performed in 1864 and subsequently remodelled. Calendau (1867) formed the basis of Henri Maréchal’s opera Calendel (libretto by Paul Ferrier), which had its première in Rouen in 1894. Maurice Léna’s libretto for C. M. Widor’s opera Nerto (1924, Paris) was derived from Mistral’s verse-tale of the same name. In 1904, half a century after the foundation of the pro-Provençal ‘félibrige’, the Nobel Prize for literature was awarded jointly to Mistral and the Spanish poet José Echegaray....

Article

(b Paris, 1687; d Paris, Oct 13, 1770). French librettist and historian . He was elected to the Académie Française in 1733 and appointed lecteur to Queen Maria Leszczyńska around 1745. He is best known for Les chats (1727), an elegant and witty history of the cat since ancient Egyptian times. As a librettist Moncrif worked exclusively on a small scale, limiting himself to the opéra-ballet, with its separate entrées, and to the independent acte de ballet. A taste for exoticism, first explored in his ‘contes indiens’ Les avantures de Zéloïde et d’Amanzarifdine (1715), is also evident in the librettos. One entrée of L’empire de l’Amour (‘Les génies du feu’) inhabits the enchanted world of Middle Eastern mythology, still a fairly unusual choice in 1733 but soon to become fashionable; his subsequent librettos, notably Zélindor, roi des silphes and Les génies tutélaires, mainly adopt Arabian or Asiatic settings. Most were moderately successful; ...

Article

Mireille Barrière

(b Ottawa, Sept 7, 1892; d Montreal, Sept 20, 1958). Canadian composer and folklorist . He studied the piano and the organ in Ottawa with Amédée Tremblay and piano in Montreal with Alfred Laliberté. From 1915 he collaborated with Charles Marchand on collecting and arranging folksongs, and he was also active as a teacher, orchestral pianist and accompanist. From 1927 to 1930 he took part in the festivals commissioned by the Canadian Pacific Railway and became their joint musical director with Harold E. Key in 1930; it was for these that his ballad operas, based on Canadian folklore and including many folksongs, were written. His operetta Philippino was broadcast in 1943. O’Brien became a priest in 1952.

ballad operas unless otherwise stated

Article

Jane W. Stedman

(b London, Feb 27, 1796; d London, May 29, 1880). English dramatist, librettist, antiquarian and costume authority . He brought his scholarly knowledge of costume to bear on his stage designs, and was the first to perceive that comedy might arise from ancient Greeks in authentic chitons behaving like Victorians. His first play, a ‘serio-comic, bombastic, and operatic interlude’, was Amoroso, King of Little Britain (1818); his first serious play was The Vampire, or The Bride of the Isles (1820). After much rapid hackwork Planché went to Covent Garden, where he began to reform the unhistorical costuming of Shakespeare’s plays; he also collaborated with Henry Bishop on ‘English operas’ (dramas with music). In 1826 he wrote a diffuse libretto for Weber’s romantic opera Oberon, or The Elf King’s Oath, the plot based on C. M. Wieland’s poem, the words heavily influenced by Shakespeare. This latter quality led Weber to expostulate gently that music needed dramatic situations rather than poetic imagery. In spite of a successful première, the libretto was criticized for lacking human interest, a charge Planché felt keenly. In ...

Article

Thomas Bauman

(b Weimar, Jan 23, 1762; d Weimar, June 26, 1827). German writer . A copyist’s son from a large family, he was mostly self-educated as a youth. Later he studied law at Jena and Erlangen, then supported himself and his siblings by his pen. Goethe, who lived with and subsequently married Vulpius’s sister Christiane, tried to help him secure various positions. Vulpius translated and adapted Italian and German opera texts for the Bellomo company at Weimar during the 1780s, and supplied over two dozen new versions of previously composed operas to the Weimar court theatre, under Goethe’s direction from 1791 to 1817. On obtaining a position in the Weimar library in 1797, Vulpius turned to cultural-historical studies. The University of Jena conferred the PhD on him in 1809, and in 1816 he was knighted by the Weimar court. Vulpius’s original librettos, like his popular novels, show a decided taste for the sentimental, picaresque and supernatural. During the 1790s his revisions of several of Schikaneder’s librettos – by no means improvements – sparked a war of words between the two....

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Brno, 13 March 1966). Czech composer, pedagogue, and writer on music, son of zdeněk zouhar. He studied composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU) in Brno (with Miloš Ištván and alois piňos) and musicology at the Masaryk University, followed by post-graduate studies at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst Graz (with Herman Markus Preßl and younghi pagh-paan) and JAMU. He remains an external pedagogue at both these institutions, as well as being active as a researcher at the Palacký University Olomouc (vice-dean starting in 2010), Ostrava University, and Masaryk University.

His brand of postmodernism is surprisingly respectful, using disparate materials in a serious manner, and generally staying with a few pieces of material for the duration of a piece or movement. Often composed in an additive, evolutionary structure, his works are sonically reminiscent of New York post-minimalism, but are very European in their approach to expressivity and emotional intensity. This approach includes both the intense rhythms of ...