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Article

Michael J. Budds

(b Kansas City, MO, May 12, 1928). American composer and pianist. He learnt the cello, drums and piano from an early age and developed a particular interest in jazz. He played as a night club pianist, and then served in the army, touring as a pianist (1950–52). He went on to study music at the Mannes College of Music, New York, the New School of Social Research, McGill University, Montreal and gained a scholarship to the Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara, California. His composition teachers included Milhaud, Martinů and Cowell. Bacharach became an accompanist for Vic Damone, subsequently working with such performers as Polly Bergen, Steve Lawrence, the Ames Brothers and Paula Stewart, to whom he was married from 1953 to 1958. From 1958 to 1961 he toured internationally with Marlene Dietrich. Bacharach began writing arrangements and composing songs in the mid-1950s, working at the Brill Building and collaborating with the lyricist Hal David (...

Article

(b London, June 21, 1938). English lyricist. In the 1950s his various jobs included that of a writer for the New Musical Express, a performer in the rapidly declining variety theatres (billed under such titles as ‘Donald Black, the young gangster’ and ‘Don Black, a living joke’) and a song-plugger. He began writing song lyrics in the mid-1950s, gaining success in the 1960s when Matt Monroe recorded his April Fool and Walk away, Black’s English version of the German Eurovision song contest entry Warum nur warum. Beginning with the James Bond film Thunderball (1965) he worked with the composer John Barry on many title songs for films, including Diamonds are Forever (1971), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), and Born Free (1966), for which Black received an Academy Award. Further collaborations with Barry include the musicals Billy (1974...

Article

Jon Alan Conrad

(b Flint, MI, March 30, 1933). American orchestrator, conductor and composer. He studied music at Michigan State University and then at the New England Conservatory, which included conducting with Neel and Stokowski, and the double bass. The latter led to performing engagements with numerous orchestras; from 1961 to 1967 he also conducted, particularly ballet orchestras. At this time he began conducting tours and concerts of musicals, and in the 1970s his orchestrations for musicals were first heard. These included orchestrations reconciling a variety of sources with the requirements for modern revivals or compilations (as with Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Carousel, Show Boat, and his contributions to the restoration of the Gershwins’ Strike up the Band). He has composed incidental music, arranged for television and film, provided arrangements for recording (for Mandy Patinkin, Plácido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade), and written songs and musicals, as well as concert and dance works. Additionally he has provided re-creations of Prokofiev’s film music (...

Article

Gerard Béhague

(Francisco)

(b Rio de Janeiro, June 19, 1944). Brazilian composer and singer-songwriter. The son of a prominent historian and intellectual, he began studying architecture at the University of São Paulo in 1963 but decided soon after to pursue a career in popular music. Although he was a great admirer of the bossa nova musician João Gilberto, his first hits, Pedro Pedreiro and Sonho de um Carnaval (both recorded in 1965), as well as Olê Olá, revealed innovative talents. The first piece is an early expression of his concern for and subsequent criticism of some of Brazil's urban social problems. The well-known poet-diplomat Vinicius de Morais, a family friend and fundamental figure of the bossa nova movement, exerted a strong influence on Buarque's music and poetry. Indeed the ‘master of the language’, as Jobim characterized him, went on to produce some of the most sophisticated popular songs of his generation, both poetically and musically. In ...

Article

Geoffrey Block

[Kaufman, Seymour]

(b New York, June 14, 1929; d New York, Nov 18, 2004). American composer and pianist. The son of Russian immigrants, he began to play the piano at the age of four, and performed recitals at the Steinway and Carnegie halls by seven. He studied counterpoint and orchestration at the New York College of Music and developed a serious interest in jazz, within a few years performing in New York nightclubs with his trio and starting a long recording career as a jazz pianist. A collaboration with the lyricist Joseph Allan McCarthy yielded several song hits between 1952 and 1956, including Why try to change me now?, I'm gonna laugh you right out of my life and Tin Pan Alley, the last of which appeared in Coleman's first Broadway venture, the revue John Murray Anderson's Almanac (1953). By the late 1950s he had produced an impressive list of song standards with lyricist Carolyn Leigh, which included ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Colón Román jr, William Anthony; ‘El malo’]

(b South Bronx, New York, April 28, 1950). American bandleader, composer, arranger, trombonist, popular singer, producer and actor. Dubbed ‘El malo’ (the ‘bad boy’) of salsa, he began playing the trumpet in 1963 with the teenage band the Dandees. Switching to trombone, he made his professional début at 17 with the album El malo (Fania, 1967). Both as a bandleader and a member of the Fania All-Stars, he quickly moved to the fore of the burgeoning New York salsa scene, cementing the raw, trombone-heavy ‘New York sound’ inspired by earlier artists such as Eddie Palmieri and Mon Rivera. Between 1967 and 1973 he made a series of important recordings with vocalist Hector Lavoe, which included the albums Asalto Navideño I and II (Fania, 1972 and 1973) with cuatro virtuoso Yomo Toro, where traditional Puerto Rican Christmas aguinaldos were fused with salsa. During his second period (...

Article

Geoffrey Block

(b Boston, 1952). American composer and lyricist. Although he principally studied English, Finn received the Hutchinson Fellowship in musical composition when he graduated from Williams College (the same fellowship awarded to Stephen Sondheim 24 years earlier). At college Finn had composed three musicals on unconventional subjects, including the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. By 1979 he had completed an early version of In Trousers, the first of a gradually evolving musical trilogy about the emotional and sexual evolution of Marvin, a neurotic urban professional. Having discovered his capacity for bisexuality in In Trousers, Marvin would leave his wife and son to live with another man in March of the Falsettos (1981). In contrast to most of Finn’s other projects as composer or lyricist, March of the Falsettos gained a strong critical and modestly popular following. Nearly a decade later, but only two years later in the life of its characters, he completed the final musical of his trilogy, ...

Article

Gerard Béhague

(do Prado Pereira de Oliveira)

(b Juazeiro, Bahia, June 10, 1931). Brazilian popular singer, composer and guitarist. He moved to Rio de Janeiro at the age of 18, singing mostly Romantic samba-canções in various groups and frequenting the nightclub Plaza in Copacobana and the Murray Recordshop in downtown Rio de Janeiro. His first solo recording came in 1952, but it was the July 1958 record containing Jobim's Chega de Saudade and his own Bim-bom that called attention to his new singing style, unassuming but secure and very intimate. In April 1958 he had accompanied on the guitar the pop singer Elisete Cardoso singing Chega de Saudade, and revealed for the first time his distinctive guitar beat that came to be known as the violão gago (stammering guitar), a trademark of the bossa nova made up of previously unknown syncopated patterns on the samba beat. In November of the same year he recorded Jobim's ...

Article

Geoffrey Block

(Frederick)

(b New York, June 2, 1944; d Los Angeles, CA, August 6, 2012). American composer. After demonstrating precocious talent, he became the youngest student to attend the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied piano reluctantly from 1950 to 1965; while still there, he worked as a rehearsal pianist for Funny Girl (1964). In 1965 he attained early success as a popular songwriter when two songs he composed with a high school friend, Howard Liebling, Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows and California Nights, were recorded by Lesley Gore; one other song he composed as a teenager, Travelin’ Man, was recorded years later by Liza Minnelli, another high school friend, on her first album. Concurrently with his studies in music at Queens College, from which he graduated in 1967, Hamlisch was employed for two seasons as a vocal arranger and rehearsal pianist for a wide variety of acclaimed performers on ‘The Bell Telephone Hour’. An engagement as a pianist at a private party for the producer Sam Spiegel led to ...

Article

John Snelson

[Gerald]

(b New York, July 10, 1933). American composer and lyricist. He was self-taught as a musician and studied drama at the University of Miami, where he also began writing for revue. He moved to New York, working as a night club pianist and writing for television, and reused some of his earlier material from Miami for the revue I Feel Wonderful, presented off-Broadway (1954). His next revue Nightcap (1958) was later revised as Parade (1960). His first full-scale musical was Milk and Honey (1961) which gave him a hit song in ‘Shalom’; it starred the opera singers Robert Weede and Mimi Benzell and the long-established Yiddish performer, Molly Picon. Hello Dolly! (1964) reinforced Herman’s breezy style and the show won ten Tony awards including those for Best Actress for Carol Channing’s famous portrayal of Dolly Levi and Best Composer for Herman. With ...

Article

Geoffrey Block

(Harrold)

(b Kansas City, MO, March 18, 1927). American composer . He studied music at Oberlin College, where he composed songs with James Goldman (a childhood friend) and at Columbia University, where he studied with composers Jack Beeson, Otto Luening and Douglas Moore, while working as a vocal accompanist. After serving as the dance music arranger for Gypsy (1959) and Irma La Douce (1960), Kander was given the opportunity to compose A Family Affair (1962) for Broadway with James Goldman and his brother William. Publisher Tommy Valando introduced him to Fred Ebb (b New York, 8 April 1932) in 1962, and the new team immediately produced two hit songs, My Coloring Book and I Don’t Care Much, both recorded by Barbra Streisand. From 1965 to 1997 Kander and Ebb produced ten musicals on Broadway, including the Tony Award-winning Cabaret (1966; revived ...

Article

David Ades

(Maris Colman) [Colman, Gordon Maris]

(b Edgware, May 11, 1930). English arranger, composer and pianist. He was an accomplished pianist from childhood, playing a Mozart concerto in a public concert at the age of 11, and winning a Middlesex scholarship to the RAM where he also studied trombone. Early attempts at composition were influenced by Debussy and Ravel, and later by the Russian Romantics, Rachmaninoff and Skryabin. His first BBC broadcast as a pianist was in 1951 while serving with the Royal Artillery Band. By the 1960s, after a variety of engagements as both player and arranger, Langford had established himself as a respected pianist in concerts and on numerous broadcasts such as ‘Music in the Air’ and ‘Friday Night is Music Night’. His reputation as an arranger and composer also grew steadily.

In 1971 he won an Ivor Novello Award for his march from the Colour Suite, and became more involved in brass band music. At the same time he was increasingly in demand to orchestrate West End musicals and feature films, and also contributed mood music to publishers' recorded music libraries. He has written many arrangements for the King's Singers and the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. In ...

Article

Mark Brill

(b Paris, Feb 24, 1932). French composer and arranger. A musical prodigy, Legrand enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 11. He attended from 1943 to 1950, studied conducting with Nadia Boulanger and harmony with Henri Chaland, and graduated as a first-prize winner in composition. In the 1950s, he became a popular band leader, singer and songwriter, also writing and conducting ballets for Roland Petit. A brilliant orchestrator, he won a prize in 1953 from the Académie Charles Cros for his arrangements for a recital recording by Catherine Sauvage. In 1954, he became the band leader and conductor for Maurice Chevalier, and travelled with him to New York. That same year he issued the first LP, I Love Paris. In the late 1950s his arrangements for the album Legrand Jazz (Col., 1958) featured the playing of Miles Davis, Ben Webster and John Coltrane, and he also began writing film music, thereafter dedicating himself almost exclusively to the medium. His first important collaborations were with some of the masters of French cinema, including Godard, Carné and Jacques Demy, with whom he worked on eight films. He achieved his greatest success with Demy’s ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Edward]

(b East Harlem, New York, Dec 15, 1936). American pianist, percussionist, bandleader, composer and arranger. Following his older brother Charlie, he took up the piano when he was eight, but at 13 he began playing the timbales in his uncle’s band, Chino y sus Almas Tropicales. Returning to the piano in 1951, he formed a nine-piece band with timbalero Joey Quijano. He replaced his brother Charlie in Johnny Segui’s band in 1955, then joined Tito Rodríguez in 1958. In 1961 he formed the ensemble La Perfecta. Modifying the flute-and-violin charanga format popular at the time, Palmieri used trombones in place of violins and coined the ‘trombanga’ sound that became his trademark and influenced later salsa bands. In his band were such leading musicians as the timbalero Manny Oquendo, the trombonist Barry Rogers and the vocalist Ismael Quintana. Complementing the group’s dynamic swing, Palmieri forged a percussive piano style, incorporating modal jazz influences from contemporary pianist McCoy Tyner. Among his representative tunes from this period are ...

Article

Ioannis Tsioulakis

(b Athens, Oct 12, 1924). Greek composer and pianist. He studied physics and mathematics at the University of Athens, before moving to New York where he completed a doctorate in chemistry at Cornell University. While in the United States, Plessas pursued a career as a piano player specialising in jazz, and in 1951 he received a music award for a performance at the University of Minnesota. Upon his return to Greece in the mid-1950s Plessas became more active as a composer, and in 1959 he started his career as a film composer which made him hugely popular during the 1960s and 1970s. He has composed music for over 100 films but it was especially his songs for musicals produced by Finos Films, performed on screen by prominent singers such as Giannis Poulopoulos, Marinella, and Tzeni Vanou, and actors including Rena Vlachopoulou and Mairi Chronopoulou, that rendered him one of the most celebrated popular musicians of that period. From the 1980s onwards, Plessas focused more on jazz and art music, recording music with his jazz quartet and composing operas and instrumental pieces. His ‘folk opera’ ...

Article

Lise Waxer

(b New York City, April 20, 1923; d New York City, May 31, 2000). American percussionist, bandleader, composer and arranger. He began performing with Los Happy Boys and other local bands as a child prodigy, and as a teenager played with Noro Morales and Machito. Following wartime service in the US Navy (...

Article

Patrick O’Connor

(b Amersham, Nov 10, 1944). English librettist and lyricist. He studied law, but after meeting Lloyd Webber family, §2 embarked on a career as a lyricist. Their first experiment with a stage work was The Likes of Us, based on the life of Dr Barnado, but Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, first performed by the pupils of Colet Court School (1 March 1968), eventually was taken up all over the world. Their operas Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita were first performed in concert and recorded before being staged (1971 and 1978 respectively); another collaboration, Cricket (1986), has only been given privately. With Stephen Oliver he wrote Blondel, which was the first work to be performed at the refurbished Old Vic Theatre (1983). Chess (1984), with music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, was well received in London and Australia, although a Broadway production was short-lived. Rice has also written lyrics for many other composers, twice winning Academy Awards for film songs (‘A Whole New World’ in ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Ramón]

(b Havana, April 7, 1927; d Miami, Feb 1, 2003). Cuban percussionist, bandleader, composer and arranger. He first began to learn the violin, but switched to percussion as a child. He left Cuba in 1948, moving to Mexico with his cousin, the bongo player Armando Peraza. They played in Pérez Prado’s mambo band, then moved to New York City in 1950, where they were known as the Black Cuban Diamonds. Santamaría soon found work with Tito Puente, working in the band for seven years alongside percussionist Willie Bobo. During this time he recorded various albums of authentic Cuban religious and secular drumming, both with Puente and under his own name. With Bobo he left to join Cal Tjader’s Latin jazz group in 1958. In 1961 Santamaría put together a charanga ensemble, and recorded with the Cuban vocalist La Lupe in 1963, helping to launch her US career. By the mid-1960s he turned to the Latin crossover vein, with widely popular hits such as ...

Article

Caroline Richmond

(Lester)

(b Dallas, Sept 12, 1929). American composer. He studied art at the University of Texas (BA 1952), where his fellow student Tom Jones (b Littlefield, TX, 17 Feb 1928) aroused his interest in the musical theatre. The two collaborated on some college shows, Schmidt (who learned to play piano by ear) providing the music and Jones writing the sketches. After serving in the US Army Schmidt obtained work in New York as a commerical artist, but continued to produce revue songs in partnership with Jones. In 1959 they wrote a one-act show for the summer theatre at Barnard College and, encouraged by its success, expanded it the following year to a full-length musical. Although The Fantasticks did not find great favour with the critics at first, it received the Vernon Price Award as the outstanding off-Broadway production of the season. It also proved exceedingly popular with the public and became one of the longest-running American musicals. Schmidt’s success continued with ...

Article

Geoffrey Block

(b Vannes, July 6, 1944). French composer. He supported himself while at the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce in Nantes by playing the piano in a popular group called Les Venètes (1963–7). After graduation he was employed as a producer and junior artistic director for Pathé-Marconi.

In 1972 he resigned to compose, with the lyricist Alain Boublil (b Tunis, 5 March 1941), the historically based musical La révolution française, which was released in the following year as a double album before performances on stage in Paris at the Palais des Sports. In 1974 Le premier pas became a hit song in France, and during the following years Schönberg, who had sung the role of Louis XVI in his first musical, continued to record his own songs. A second collaboration with Boublil, begun in 1979, led to another popular recording of a concept album, this time based on Hugo's epic novel ...