(b Pisky, near Khar′kiv, 8/Sept 20, 1876; d Paris, Jan 8, 1945). Ukrainian composer and pianist. Aged ten he was sent, along with his brother Yakiv (later known as the composer Stepovy), to sing in the choir of the Imperial Chapel in St Petersburg. It was during his time there (1886–95) that he began to compose under the influence of his teachers Balakirev and Lyapunov. He finished studies with Rimsky-Korsakov and Lyadov at the St Petersburg Conservatory in 1901, the year in which the latter conducted the first performance of the Lyric Poem, op.20. Akimenko then became the director of a music school in Tbilisi (1901–03). He performed widely as a pianist, particularly in France and Switzerland, and lived for a while in Paris (1903–06) before returning to Khar′kiv. In 1914 he was invited to teach composition and theory at the St Petersburg Conservatory, a post he held until ...
revised by Tess Knighton
(fl1482). Iberian composer. He was a singer in the Aragonese royal chapel of Ferdinand V over a period of almost 30 years, from 1482 until 1510. He was presented to various ecclesiastical benefices under royal patronage and held, presumably by proxy, the position of head chaplain of the Dominican monastery in Madrid until 1505.
He was also closely associated with Segovia Cathedral for the best part of his life, being appointed chapel master there from 1 October 1504. For some years he held both positions, but this must have proved incompatible for in the autumn of 1507 he was suspended from his post as chapel master for an unspecified breach of the rules and replaced by Francisco de San Juan. He remained a member of the chapter, however, and was much involved in cathedral business during long periods of absence from the royal chapel during the period ...
revised by Luis Merino
(b Santiago, Sept 2, 1911; d Santiago, Aug 2, 1954). Chilean composer and pianist. He studied with Allende for composition and Renard for the piano at the Santiago National Conservatory (1923–35), where he then held appointments as coach at the opera department (1935), assistant professor of the piano (1937), professor of analysis (1940), and director (1945). At the same time he taught at the Liceo Manuel de Salas in Santiago. He was secretary-general to the Instituto de Extensión Musical (from 1941), a founder-director of the Escuela Moderna de Música, Santiago (1940), and a member of various arts societies. In 1943 he went to the USA as a guest of the Institute of International Education and in 1953 he was in Europe for the performance of his Wind Sextet at the ISCM Festival. His early compositions show the influences of French music and Chilean folklore; from the late 1940s his work became more Expressionist and abstract....
Roxanne R. Reed
(b Anguilla, MS, March 21, 1919; d Hazel Crest, IL, 15 June, 1995). American gospel director, singer, composer, and publisher. Anderson established a career forming and training gospel groups in Chicago. His formative years were spent as one of the original Roberta Martin Singers, one of the premiere gospel groups of the 1930s and 1940s. He left briefly, between 1939 and 1941, to form the first of his many ensembles, the Knowles and Anderson Singers with R.L. Knowles. He rejoined Martin, but ultimately resigned because of the travel demands. In 1947 he formed Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan, but after several members left in 1952, he formed a new set of singers that recorded and performed under the name the Robert Anderson Singers through the mid-1950s. Throughout his career, Anderson recorded on a multitude of labels including Miracle and United with Robert Anderson and the Caravans; and later with the Robert Anderson Singers, on Apollo. Anderson wrote, and often sang lead on, many of the songs his groups performed, including “Why Should I Worry” (...
Saadalla Agha Al-Kalaa
(b al-Qrayya, Syria, Oct 18, 1915; d Beirut, Dec 26, 1974). Syrian singer, composer, ‘ūd player and film actor and producer. In 1924 political circumstances forced his family to move to Egypt. His mother, the noted singer ‘Aliyya al-Munther, taught him singing in the Syrian style. He studied the ‘ūd (lute) at the Cairo Institute for Arab Music. His professional work began as an ‘ūd player and singer at the national radio station and in Badī ‘a Maṣabnī's variety show saloon.
In 1941, through his sister Asmahān , he entered the cinema industry, and for the rest of his life was involved in films as a composer, singer actor, and producer. His singing of Syrian mawwāl (popular songs), tangos and rumbas achieved great popularity, and his work laid the foundations for Arab variety show films, cinematic operetta, orchestral musical overtures and comic and sad songs. His 31 films are mostly autobiographical and provide valuable insight into the role of the musician in society....
(b Edgard, LA, Dec 24, 1920; d New Orleans, June 23, 2019). American trumpeter, arranger, producer, songwriter, bandleader, and singer. He started his career as a trumpeter playing with established bands led by, among others, Papa Celestin, Joe Robichaux, and Claiborne Williams before joining Fats Pichon’s ensemble, considered one of the top groups in New Orleans, in 1939. During World War II he played in the 196th AGF (Army Ground Forces) Band, where he met Abraham Malone, who taught him how to write and arrange. After the war, he formed his own band in New Orleans, which made its début at the Dew Drop Inn and later performed at Sam Simoneaux’s club Graystone where many of the city’s top instrumental players, including the drummer Earl Palmer and the saxophonists Lee Allen and Red Tyler, were showcased.
Bartholomew is best known for his talents as an arranger and songwriter. In the 1950s and 60s he worked with many of the biggest stars of the day, including Smiley Lewis, Lloyd Price, Shirley and Lee, and Joe Turner. By the 1970s he had associations with some of rock and roll’s most established talents, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. His most productive association was with Fats Domino, whom he met through Lew Chudd, the owner of Imperial Records, where he worked as a house arranger, an A&R man, and an in-house bandleader. From ...
(b Glinno, nr Poznań, April 9, 1757; d Warsaw, July 23, 1829). Polish impresario, librettist, actor and singer. He was a central figure in the history of the Polish theatre. He studied in Kraków (1770–73), where he attended many theatrical and concert performances organized by Sierakowski, prompting him to change the direction of his career away from the army and towards the theatre. He probably completed his studies at the Piarist school in Warsaw. For a few months during 1778 he studied acting with L. Montbrun, a Warsaw theatrical impresario. Soon afterwards he made his début as an actor in N.T. Barthé’s comedy Zmyślona niewierność (‘Imaginary Infidelity’), and on 11 July 1778 as a singer and librettist in the première of Maciej Kamieński’s opera Poverty made Happy. In 1783 he became the director of the National Theatre in Warsaw, remaining in this position (with some breaks) until ...
(b Detroit, MI, Feb 16, 1935; d South Lake Tahoe, CA, Jan 5, 1998). American singer, composer, producer, actor, and politician. Bono began his career as a composer; one of his first songs, “Things You Do To Me,” was recorded by Sam Cooke in 1957–8. He eventually made contact with Phil Spector, with whom he worked closely for several years. One of his first successes came in 1963, when his song “Needles and Pins” (co-written with Jack Nitzsche) was recorded by Jackie DeShannon and reached number one on the charts in Canada. The height of his musical career came in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the duo Sonny and Cher. He wrote, produced, and performed on many of their hits, including “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On.” Success with Cher, to whom he was married from 1964 to 1975, led to many appearances on television, including ...
[Bortnyansky, Dmitry Stepanovich]
(b Hlukhiv, Ukraine, 1751; d St Petersburg, 28 Sept/Oct 10, 1825). Ukrainian composer, singer and music director, active in Russia. He began his musical training early, possibly at the Hlukhiv choir school, and in 1758 went to sing in the Russian imperial court chapel in St Petersburg, where he became one of Empress Elizabeth's favourite choirboys. Singled out for his unusual talent, he was trained in opera and eventually performed major roles in court productions: in 1764 he played the role of Admetus in H.F. Raupach's Al′tsesta.
During this period he studied composition with Galuppi. In 1769, after Galuppi had left for Venice, Catherine the Great sent Bortnyans′ky to further his studies there, with Galuppi. His first extant compositions date from his years in Italy: he composed three opere serie, two of them, Creonte (1776) and Alcide (1778), for Venice and the third, ...
(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 Honolulu, HI, Nov 9, 1909; d Honolulu, HI, April 27, 1992). Hawaiian singer, musician, bandleader, composer, and impresario. Sol Bright was a master entertainer of the old school: an energetic showman, accomplished musician, comic hula dancer, composer, raconteur, and entertainment director during Hawaiian music’s era of greatest international appeal, the 1920s through the 1960s.
His professional experience began as a teenager playing drums with his sister Hannah’s dance band. In 1928 an offer to play rhythm guitar and sing with Sol Ho`opi`i took him to Kaleponi (California), where a large community of Hawaiian musicians had formed. He started his own group, The Hollywood Hawaiians, in 1932. Playing steel guitar and singing, he recorded prolifically for major labels. He also appeared on radio and in four films: South Sea Rose,Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case,Flirtation Walk, and White Woman. Bright composed a number of songs that have become standards, including the jazzy English language “Sophisticated Hula” and “Hawaiian Cowboy,” a show-stopping novelty song in Hawaiian. With rapid-fire verses, reflective of fast ...
(b Garnant, South Glamorgan, March 9, 1942). Welsh composer, singer-songwriter, producer and arranger. His father was a coal miner and his mother a primary school teacher, who taught her son the piano. As a working-class boy growing up under the postwar conditions of ‘one nation’ Britain, he gained access to a grammar school education and the provision of free musical instrument tuition, in his case the viola. As a teenager he became a viola player in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales but at the same time he explored the rebellious subculture of the ‘teddy boy’, a teenage lifestyle increasingly associated with American rock and roll.
Between October 1960 and July 1963 Cale undertook a teacher-training course at Goldsmiths College, London, where he developed an interest in avant-garde music and made contact with Cardew, a liberal arts tutor there. In July 1963 they together organized ‘A Little Festival of New Music’ at the college, which comprised works by Cage and Fluxus artists such as George Brecht and Nam June Paik, and included the British première of La Monte Young’s controversially repetitive X for Henry Flynt. Two of Cale’s own early Fluxus-style compositions were published in the ...
H. Wiley Hitchcock
(fl 1785–95). Cellist, guitarist, singer, impresario, and composer of French origin, active in Philadelphia and New York. He is first mentioned in 1785 as a manager of subscription concerts in Philadelphia. He organized similar concerts in New York, generally in series of three: in 1788–89, with Alexander Reinagle as co-manager; in 1791–92; and in 1793–94 (the City Concerts, presented at the City Tavern). He performed in these as the soloist in cello concertos, as a member of chamber duos and quartets, and as a singer (often in duets with Mary Ann Pownall); he also played cello in the Old American Company’s orchestra. In the early 1790s, he was a music tutor of George Washington’s stepdaughter Nelly Custis, while in 1793 he became the co-manager with John Christopher Moller of a music store and school in Philadelphia, considered the first of its kind in America. Capron and Moller published four issues of ...
(b Huntington, NY, March 27, 1970). American singer, composer, producer, and actress. She is one of the top-selling artists of all time, a star in R&B and pop who sold, according to some estimates, more than 200 million albums during the 1990s and 2000s. She learned to sing as a child from her mother, an opera singer and vocal coach. While in high school she sang backing vocals for other artists and developed her own compositional style. She moved to New York in the mid-1980s and became a backing singer for Brenda K. Starr. The record company executive Tommy Mottola sought out Carey after hearing her voice on a demo tape. He immediately offered her a recording contract, resulting in her first album, Mariah Carey (1990); the two eventually married. Carey wrote or co-wrote a significant portion of the music on her first album and insisted on maintaining a degree of control over its production. Both of these elements have become her standard practice, and she is one of the few major pop artists to compose much of her own material. ...
[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 (...
[Laka D; Koc, Dorota Mary]
(b Oxford, England, Jan 8, 1953). English singer, pianist, composer, and music director. From a background in rock and soul bands, notably Soulyard, from 1982 to 1988 she was a member of the Guest Stars, in which she played piano and sang; she also wrote much of the group’s material. In 1982 she co-founded the Lydia D’Ustebyn Swing Orchestra, was an organizer of Early Evening Jazz, the first women’s jazz festival held in London (at the Drill Hall), and sang in the a cappella group the Hipscats (comprising five singers, including Jan Ponsford, Jim Dvorak, and Ruthie Smith, and later the pianist Alastair Gavin). An intermittent affiliation with Carol Grimes involved work in her band and in a duo. She sang and played piano with Annie Whitehead, with whom she recorded the album Mix Up (1985, Paladin 6), then led her own band, which included Claude Deppa. In the 1990s she played with Mervyn Afrika, Kate Westbrook, the percussionist Josefina Cupido, and the saxophonists Louise Elliot and Diane McLaughlin, composed and directed music for stage shows, and taught. Laka Daisical is a propulsive pianist and exciting performer heavily influenced by African-American gospel music, as exemplified by ...
(b Plainview, TX, Aug 10, 1928; d Varina, VA, June 13, 2010). American singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. Despite achieving only a few hits, he played a pivotal role in advancing the prominence of country music on network television. Born into poverty in rural Texas, he learned piano with his mother. During postwar service in the US Air Force, he was stationed near Washington, DC. Following his discharge in 1948, he began performing in the region playing accordion with his band the Texas Wildcats. His first hit was “Bummin’ Around” (1952, Mer.). In 1955 he began hosting a local morning TV show, Town and Country Time. For a time Roy Clark was the Wildcats’ guitarist and banjoist with an unknown Patsy Cline a frequent guest. After joining CBS he hosted the morning show “Country Style” (1957) from Washington and the daytime program “The Jimmy Dean Show” (...
Eldonna L. May
(b Detroit, MI, Jan 1, 1929; d Detroit, MI, July 2010). American singer, educator, choral director, and composer. He worked tirelessly to promote and preserve the works of African American musicians through coalition building and artistic entrepreneurship by founding the Brazeal Dennard Chorale and cofounding the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s “Classical Roots” concert series in 1976. Dennard attended Highland Park Junior College (1954–56) and he received his undergraduate (1959) and master’s (1962) degrees in music education from Wayne State University. He first gained exposure to music through attending church choir rehearsals with his mother. He studied piano and voice with Dean Robert L. Nolan and later sang with the Robert Nolan Choir. His professional career began at age 17 as conductor of the Angelic Choir at Peoples Baptist Church in Detroit. From 1951 to 1953 he was responsible for the music for all chapel services while serving as a corporal in the US Army in Virginia. Beginning in ...
Dina M. Bennett
(b Vicksburg, MS, July 1, 1915; d Burbank, CA, Jan 29, 1992). American blues double-bassist, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, and record producer. He learned to sing harmony and write poems which he turned into songs as a teenager. In 1951, he joined the staff of Chess Records and became the label’s primary blues songwriter and producer. Many of his songs contained motifs most commonly associated with African American life in the South such as magic, voodoo, and country folkways, and were recorded by blues artists Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Koko Taylor, and many others. Among his most famous songs are “Back Door Man,” “Little Red Rooster,” “Spoonful,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” “Mellow Down Easy,” and “My Babe.” With more than 500 compositions to his credit, Dixon was influential in creating the sound of “Chicago blues,” a post World War II blues style that replaced the basic guitar/harmonica duo of Delta blues with electrically amplified versions of the guitar, bass guitar, and harmonica with the addition of drums, piano, and sometimes the saxophone. In ...
(b Hohensalza [now Inowrocław, Poland], Aug 18, 1879; d Los Angeles, CA, Nov 7, 1945). American singer, songwriter, and impresario. His family immigrated to the United States in the 1880s. By the age of 14 Edwards was working as a singer in Tony Pastor’s Music Hall in New York, and he subsequently appeared as a vaudeville performer with four other boys in an act called the Newsboy Quintet. In 1899 he began to write songs with the lyricist Will D. Cobb, beginning a partnership that lasted for several years. Their first hit was “I can’t tell why I love you, but I do” (1900), and they went on to establish their reputation with such songs as “Goodbye little girl, goodbye” (1904) and “School Days” (1907), a melodious waltz ballad with lyrics yearning for the simple days of small-town rural America. This last-named song was written for a revue in which Edwards appeared with a number of young actors; its success was such that he continued to present his “kiddie discovery shows” with new performers and material for the next 20 years. Among the juvenile actors he promoted were Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, Walter Winchell, and Ray Bolger. Many of Edwards’s best songs, including “Sunbonnet Sue” (...