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Article

J. Michele Edwards

(Kimura)

(b Tokyo, April 18, 1937). Japanese marimba player and composer. After xylophone study with Eiichi Asabuki (1950–59), she earned two degrees from Tokyo Gakugei University, studying composition with Shosuke Ariga and Toshio Kashiwagi as well as percussion with Masao Imamura and Yusuke Oyake. An active professional performer since 1960, she has toured extensively in Europe, North America and Asia with annual recital tours since 1981. Through development of new technical skills and by expanding the repertory with over 70 commissions, she has contributed significantly to the status of marimba music, for which she was honoured by induction into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1993. After a decade of studio work and orchestral playing, she studied the performances of jazz artists such as Milt Jackson and Lionel Hampton in order to develop her own personal style of improvisation as a creative source for composition. Technically challenging yet idiomatic for the marimba, her works generally begin with improvisation and are later notated. Her compositions include wide dynamic ranges, techniques borrowed from folk music traditions and careful voicing of chords. Using four- and sometimes six-mallet technique, she often combines a melodic line with an impressionistic background of rhythmic patterns. Her performances of her compositions and those of other Japanese composers have been very influential on developments in the USA, especially since ...

Article

Barry Long

(b Port Chester, NY, Dec 16, 1944; d Cortlandt Manor, NY, Aug 22, 2017). American jazz guitarist, composer, and bandleader. He grew up in Greenwich, CT, and began playing guitar at the age of 14. He was primarily self taught until he studied at the Berklee College of Music (1962–6) and with Jack Petersen. Abercrombie joined Johnny Hammond’s touring band after the blues organist had spotted him performing with other Berklee students at Paul’s Mall in Boston. After studying briefly at the University of North Texas, in 1969 he moved to New York where he performed and recorded in Billy Cobham’s jazz-rock band Dreams (1970), joined Chico Hamilton’s group, and recorded with Gato Barbieri (1971), Barry Miles (1972), and Gil Evans (1974). Abercrombie attracted wider attention performing with Cobham’s fusion band Spectrum from 1974. He also toured with Jack DeJohnette and recorded his debut album, ...

Article

Harald Kisiedu

[Abrams, Richard Louis]

(b Chicago, IL, Sept 19, 1930; d New York, Oct 29, 2017). American pianist, composer, and administrator. After receiving private piano lessons, he studied at the Chicago Musical College and taught himself the system of composition devised by Joseph Schillinger. He began to work professionally in 1948 and performed regularly at the Cotton Club in Chicago during the 1950s, accompanying visiting musicians such as Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt, and Max Roach. After composing and arranging for the Walter “King” Fleming band in the mid-1950s, Abrams joined the hard bop ensemble MJT+3 and made his recording debut on the group’s album DADDY-O PRESENTS MJT+3 (1957, VJ 1013). Beginning in 1961 Abrams led the Experimental Band, a composer-centered rehearsal ensemble whose members included the double bass player Donald Rafael Garrett, Jack DeJohnette, Roscoe Mitchell, and the reed player Joseph Jarman. He subsequently co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians...

Article

Mario Rey

(b Havana, Cuba, Feb 26, 1942). Cuban-American guitarist, composer, arranger, and educator; immigrated to the United States and naturalized in 1975. He studied piano and composition at the Conservatorio Orbón in Havana, and guitar under Héctor García and Julian Bream. Abril participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion (1961) and was consequently incarcerated for twenty-two months in Cuba. Returning to the United States, he established a performing and recording career as a classical guitarist, whose arrangements for the instrument have been published worldwide. He holds the PhD degree in music theory from Florida State University.

A series of medical issues with his hands during the 1980s subsequently redirected his focus to composition. Rejecting atonality and traditional developmental procedures in his early works, Abril cultivated a compositional style characterized by tonal and often polytonal harmony and linear writing. Although not a folklorist, he shows an affinity for Cuban musical culture, particularly in the rhythmic component. His compositions include ...

Article

Stefan Fricke

(b Sibiu, Nov 3, 1940; d Munich, May 27, 2006). German composer of Romanian birth. He studied the piano, the organ and theory privately with Franz Xaver Dressler in Sibiu (1950–58). From 1959 to 1964 he studied composition with Toduta at the Cluj Academy of Music where, after receiving his diploma, he remained to teach composition and music theory. In 1969 he moved to the Federal Republic of Germany to teach at the Robert Schumann Conservatory, Düsseldorf (1969–72) and attend the Darmstadt summer course (1969). He was appointed to teach theory and composition at the Munich Musikhochschule in 1972, becoming professor of composition there in 1976. His awards included the composition prize of the Prague Spring Festival (1966), the Stuttgart Stamitz prize (1970), the city of Stuttgart composition prize (1971), the Stroud Festival composition prize, the Hitzacker prize (...

Article

Dimitri Conomos

revised by George Leotsakos

(b Piraeus, May 19, 1929). Greek composer and musicologist. He graduated in theology from Athens University (1954), in neo-Byzantine music (1955) and harmony (1956) from the Piraeus League Conservatory, and in counterpoint, fugue and composition (1959) from the Hellenic Conservatory, where he studied with Yannis A. Papaïannou. At Brandeis University (1962–5) he studied composition (with Arthur Berger), Byzantine music palaeography and electronic music. In 1950 he revived the boys' choir of the Greek Royal Palace, which he directed until 1967. He also established and conducted the Athens Chamber Chorus (1958–61). Between 1961 and 1963 he taught Byzantine music at the Holy Cross Theological Academy, Boston, Massachusetts. In 1965 he established the first electronic music studio in Athens. He was a founder-member (1965) and later president (1975–85) of both the Hellenic Association for Contemporary Music and the Greek section of the ISCM. In ...

Article

Sarah Cahill

(Coolidge)

(b Worcester, MA, Feb 15, 1947). American composer and conductor. Known particularly for his operatic works on contemporary subjects, he is considered one of the most frequently performed living composers of concert music.

He studied the clarinet with his father and with Felix Viscuglia, clarinettist with the Boston SO. At the age of ten he began theory and composition lessons, and at 14 he had his first piece performed by the community orchestra with whom he practised conducting. He also performed with the orchestra alongside his father, often appearing before an audience of mentally-handicapped patients at the New Hampshire State Hospital. As a student at Harvard University (1965–71, MA 1972) he studied composition with Leon Kirchner, Earl Kim, Roger Sessions, Harold Shapero and David Del Tredici. During this period he performed occasionally as a clarinettist with the Boston SO.

After moving to San Francisco in 1971...

Article

Marie Rolf

(Hans)

(b Mannheim, March 4, 1928). American composer and conductor of German birth. Both of his parents were musical, his father being a cantor and composer of Jewish liturgical music. The family came to the USA in 1939 and Adler attended Boston University (BM 1948) and Harvard University (MA 1950). He studied composition with Aaron Copland, Paul Fromm, Paul Hindemith, Hugo Norden, Walter Piston and Randall Thompson; musicology with Karl Geiringer, A.T. Davison and Paul A. Pisk; and conducting with Sergey Koussevitzky at the Berkshire Music Center. In 1950 he joined the US Army and organized the Seventh Army SO, which he conducted in more than 75 concerts in Germany and Austria; he was awarded the Army Medal of Honor for his musical services. Subsequently he conducted concerts and operas, and lectured extensively throughout Europe and the USA. In 1957 he was appointed professor of composition at North Texas State University, and in ...

Article

Ateş Orga

(b Moscow, Sept 8, 1947). Russian pianist, conductor, writer and poet. A student of Yakov Zak and Emil Gilels at the Moscow Conservatory (1965–73), he won the 1968 Leipzig Bach Competition, four years later taking the gold medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. After seeking political asylum in Belgium in 1974, he settled in France in 1980, but since 1989 he has returned regularly to his native country for concerts and recordings. Intent on philosophical truths more than absolutes of pianistic finish, placing emotions of the mind and spirit above ‘outward prettiness’, Afanassiev is a provocatively inspirational artist, indebted on his own admission to many of the great individualists of the past: Gilels, Gould, Horowitz, Michelangeli, Rachmaninoff and Sofronitsky all receive tribute in his ‘Homages & Ecstasies’ album (1996). Partial to mono/duographic programming, with a repertory extending from Froberger to Crumb, his extensive discography includes Bach (Book 1 of ...

Article

(b Mexico City, Dec 7, 1945). Mexican pianist and composer. She studied the piano at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and composition in the workshop of the Conservatorio Nacional de Música under Héctor Quintanar and Mario Lavista. Her extensive output reveals a diversity of techniques and styles without formal adherence to compositional schools or avant-garde trends, but with an emphasis on the search for expressive freedom. Avant-garde techniques, however, are sometimes used to enhance the colour and integrity of her music, as in Navegantes del crepúsculo (‘Voyagers of the Twilight’, 1993), a trio in four movements for clarinet, bassoon and piano, which she describes as ‘a fantasy of abstract lyricism’. In Arabesco for solo recorder, the music explores the technical potential of the instrument and the performer, including the simultaneous use of two recorders, the contrapuntal exposition of the theme through multiphonics and nimble alternation between voice and instrument....

Article

Eldonna L. May

(b Brownsville, TX, Nov 2, 1962). American percussionist, improviser, and composer. He received his bachelor’s degree from Corpus Christi State University; his master’s degrees in percussion performance from the California Institute of the Arts, where he studied with John Bergamo; and a DMA in contemporary music performance from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied with Steven Schick and Anthony Davis. An experimental performer and composer, he also studied with AACM member Wadada Leo Smith, who shaped his interest in the improvisatory and free jazz elements of Chicago’s creative music scene. Aguilar’s interdisciplinary approach to composition combines improvised and fully notated musical elements with the use of new technologies and informed by an interest in cultural and critical studies. His compositions, such as Different Paths, Same Destination (2003), incorporate elements of free jazz, structured improvisation, industrial sound, white noise, guitar as a hand-percussion instrument, and spatial sound relationships—while using instrumentation that relies primarily on various percussion instruments. Aguilar’s compositional processes include what he calls “imaginative reaction compositions” whereby he shares with musicians a number of elements—such as poetry, a variety of musical excerpts, and random thoughts and ideas—prior to recording their collective improvisation. The musicians listen to pre-recorded melodic and rhythmic structures Aguilar has composed and create collective, free improvisations, incorporating their interpretation of the shared elements. Dedicated to Julio Estrada, Aguilar’s ...

Article

Bruce Mather

(Morris)

(b Kentville, NS, Aug 28, 1939). Canadian flautist, conductor and composer. He studied with Nicholas Fiore (in Toronto) and Marcel Moyse; later with Rampal and Gazzelloni. He was principal flautist of the Vancouver SO (1958–9) and of the Toronto SO (1965–70). In 1971 he was a prizewinner of the Concours International de Flûte de Paris. In 1964 he formed the Lyric Arts Trio with his wife, the pianist Marion Ross, and the soprano Mary Morrison. He is musical director of New Music Concerts (Toronto) and Music Today (Shaw Festival, Ontario), as well as a soloist whose engagements take him to Europe, North America, Japan and Iceland. In 1977 he was one of 12 instrumentalists invited by Boulez to give a solo recital at IRCAM in Paris. Some 50 works have been wrtten for him by composers including Carter, Crumb, R. Murray Schafer and Takemitsu. Technically adept, he has a pure, intense tone and a finished sense of phrasing. In ...

Article

J. Bradford Robinson

(b Dairen, China, Dec 12, 1929). Japanese jazz composer, pianist and bandleader. She studied classical music and turned to jazz only in 1947 after moving to Japan. There she was discovered by Oscar Peterson, who urged her to take up a career in the USA. After studying at Berklee College of Music (1956–9) she became a highly regarded bop pianist, especially in groups with the alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano (who was at that time her husband). She worked in Japan (1961), joined Charles Mingus in the USA (1962–3), then returned to Japan until 1965. In 1973 she founded a large rehearsal band in Los Angeles with the tenor saxophonist and flautist Lew Tabackin, whom she had married in 1969. Its first album, Kogun (1974, RCA), was commercially successful in Japan, and the group attracted increasing popularity and critical acclaim until, by ...

Article

Francesc Taverna-Bech

(b Sant Feliu de Llobregat, June 10, 1943; d Barcelona, June 11, 1985). Catalan organist and composer. He studied the organ with Torrent, Rilling, Germani, J. Reiberger and Peeters. In 1973 he became an organ teacher at the Barcelona Conservatory. He studied composition with Bernhardt Rovenstrunck and achieved the highest commendation. He attended courses at Santiago de Compostela, Granada, Darmstadt and the Seminary of American Studies in Salzburg (1976). He was awarded the Diploma of Merit by the Accademia Chigiana in Siena and received prizes from the Spanish Vocational Foundation and the municipality of Barcelona. He also won prizes at the Avila and Pau Casals international composition competitions for his organ and choral pieces respectively.

His music reflects a preoccupation, typical of the 1960s, with creating a new musical language. However, his experimentation, carried out with methodical precision, is tempered by a desire to communicate. He is the author of the book ...

Article

Michael Russ

( b Belfast, Jan 22, 1962). Northern Irish composer . He attended the University of Ulster (BMus 1985) where he studied matrix composition, a technique used in many of his works, with David Morriss, and the University of Durham (PhD 1992) where he studied with John Casken and Peter Manning. In 1989 he became the composer-in-residence at Queen's University, Belfast, and in 1990 was appointed to a lectureship there, also serving as the director of the electronic music studio. The composition of Making a Song and Dance … (1989) marked the beginning of a fascination with Irish folk music, the modal qualities of which Alcorn finds particularly interesting. He has also acknowledged the influence of a number of postwar British and Scandinavian composers.

A small but significant part of Alcorn's output is electro-acoustic music. Flexible modes of interaction between electronically generated sounds, conventional instrumental timbres and, occasionally, visual images, hold a particular appeal for him. ...

Article

George Vlastos

(b Athens, Feb 17, 1960). Greek composer, musicologist, and keyboard player. Born into an artistic family, he took up jazz and free improvised music. During the period 1977–84 he took his first lessons in composition with Yannis Ioannidis while he also studied law at the University of Athens. Thereafter he continued his studies in composition at the Robert Schumann Musikhochschule (now Robert Schumann University, Düsseldorf) with Guenther Becker until 1986. Having a background both in jazz and electronic music, he showed an interest in the echo effect. Thus, in his early works (dating from the mid-1980s) he developed a heterophonic technique, which he called the ‘technique of linear heterophonic modulations’. In his music he makes extensive use of ancient Greek tetrachords, melodic ramifications, and modal structures deriving from the Greek and other non-Western traditions. Until 1994 his writing was abstract and rhythmically complex, while his later works are more conventionally structured and use consonant sonorities. His output includes operas, vocal music, works for orchestra, works for solo instruments, chamber music, incidental music, electronic music, ballet music, and music for films. Among his major works are the opera ...

Article

Marina Lobanova

(Ali Aga Kïzï)

(b Baku, May 28, 1947). Azerbaijani composer and pianist. She studied at the Music School attached to the Azerbaijan State Conservatory (1954–65) and then at the conservatory itself (composition with Kara Karayev and the piano with Khalilov), graduating in 1970 as a pianist and 1972 as a composer. She then attended a postgraduate course under Karayev (1974–6) and at the same time served as his assistant (1970–76) before being appointed assistant professor (1976–89) and then professor (1996 onwards). During the 1960s and 70s she encouraged the dissemination of new music by giving the first performances in Azerbaijan of works by Berg, Cage, Crumb, Messiaen and Schoenberg as well as playing works by Soviet composers such as Denisov, Gubaydulina and Schnittke. She also frequently took part in festivals around the former Soviet Union, while in 1988 she was elected to join the Friends of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute of Los Angeles and in ...

Article

Virginia Allen

(b Morgan, TX, June 13, 1927). American conductor, composer, arranger, and trumpeter. Allen began trumpet lessons at age seven with his father, a 50-year Texas school band director, and later studied with Jimmy Burke of the Goldman Band and Lloyd Geisler of the National SO. During 45 years of military service, he conducted US Army bands, including the 101st Airborne Division Band. His career culminated with his appointment as Leader and Commander of The United States Army Band (Pershing’s Own) in Washington, DC, 1976–90. He led and supervised the band, chorus, orchestra, Army Blues, and Herald Trumpets in more than 5,000 performances annually at the White House, Pentagon, US Capitol, and Arlington National Cemetery, throughout the US, and in Canada, the US Virgin Islands, Japan, and Australia. He composed Salute to Veterans, the official march of the Veterans Administration, and The Major of St. Lo, the official march of the 29th Infantry Division. He is a past president of the American Bandmasters Association....

Article

Lars Helgert

(Antoinette)

(b Pontiac, MI, June 12, 1957; d Philadelphia, June 27, 2017). American jazz pianist and composer. She began classical piano study at age seven with Patricia Wilhelm, who also encouraged her interest in jazz. After graduating from Detroit’s Cass Technical High School in 1975 (where trumpeter Marcus Belgrave was one of her teachers), she studied with John Malachi at Howard University (BA 1979, jazz studies) and with Nathan Davis at the University of Pittsburgh (MA 1982, ethnomusicology). She also took private piano lessons with Kenny Barron in 1979. She moved to New York in the early 1980s, where she became a member of the M-BASE collective. Allen recorded her first album as a leader, The Printmakers, in 1984 (Minor Music). After that she performed on more than 100 recordings in a variety of capacities. She worked in trios with Ron Carter and Tony Williams (on albums such as ...

Article

Mark Tucker

[Stephen Valentine Patrick William]

(b New York, NY, Dec 16, 1921; d Encino, CA, Oct 30, 2000). American composer, radio and television personality, pianist, singer, and comedian. The son of Belle Montrose and Billy Allen, both of whom worked in vaudeville, he moved from place to place as a child, attending many schools for short periods of time. He played piano from an early age, although his musical training was mainly informal. He began a professional career in Los Angeles as a disc jockey on radio during the 1940s, then turned to television in the 1950s; he established himself as a comedian, and often played the piano during his shows, improvising jazz and singing his own songs. Among the musicians who appeared with him regularly was the vibraphonist Terry Gibbs. Allen’s most popular television program was “The Tonight Show,” which he began broadcasting locally in New York in 1953, subsequently leading it to nationwide success the following year. Allen performed the title role in the film ...