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Anderson, Laurie  

Hugh Davies and Susan McClary

(b Chicago, IL, June 5, 1947). American performance artist, composer, and instrument innovator. Although she played the violin from childhood, she received her formal training in the visual arts (Barnard College, BA 1969; Columbia University, MFA 1972). During the 1970s she became one of the most celebrated practitioners of performance art. Her work has incorporated graphics, lighting, sculpture, mime, slides, film, speech, music, and many electronic devices, some of her own design. By 1976 her performances were featured prominently in museums and concert venues across Europe and North America.

Anderson has achieved great visibility, in part because of her originality: coming to music from the visual arts, she was free to manipulate sounds as she liked. Her unexpected crossover into the popular domain brought her a degree of fame and influence usually unavailable to avant-garde artists.

Since the mid-1970s Anderson has developed several instruments for use in her performances and exhibitions. A typical programme for one of her live shows includes all or part of her large-scale music theatre work ...


Anderson, Laurie  

Susan McClary

revised by Julie McGuire

(b Chicago, IL, 5 June 1947). American performance artist, composer, and musician.

Although Anderson played the violin from childhood, she received her formal training in art history and the visual arts (Barnard College, BA 1969; Columbia University, MFA 1972). Anderson has pioneered a type of multimedia performance art that bridges the gap between music and art: combining age-old storytelling techniques with futuristic, electronically produced images and sounds, telling tales and creating purely instrumental music. Since the 1970s Anderson has created a broad range of works: books, films, videos, photographs, mixed-media installations, large-scale performances, records, and an interactive CD-ROM. By 1976 her work was featured prominently in museums and concert venues across Europe and North America.

The first phase of Anderson’s career culminated in her magnum opus, United States I–IV, performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1983. Hailed by critics as a captivating portrait of American life in the late 20th century, the work was regarded as thematizing the contradictions and tensions of late-capitalist society. Lasting over seven hours and involving 11 other performers, ...


Andreini, Giovanni [Giovan] Battista  

Colin Timms and Anne MacNeil


(b Florence, Feb 9, 1576; d Reggio nell’Emilia, June 7, 1654). Italian actor, dramatist and poet. He was the son of Isabella and Francesco Andreini, famous commedia dell’arte players, and was educated at the University of Bologna. In 1594, taking the stage name ‘Lelio’, he joined the Compagnia dei Gelosi, the comic troupe to which his parents belonged, and in 1601 he married the actress and singer Virginia Ramponi (‘La Florinda’). By the time the Gelosi disbanded in 1604 he had already formed his own company, the Compagnia dei Fedeli, which served the Medici and Gonzaga families, with brief interruptions, until it disbanded, playing throughout northern and central Italy. In 1613 Maria de’ Medici invited the Fedeli to Paris. Their visit, which lasted from September 1613 to July 1614, was so successful that they performed there again from January 1621 to March 1622, probably December 1622 to March 1623...


Andreini [née Canali], Isabella  

Anne MacNeil

(b Padua, 1562; d Lyons, June 10, 1604). Italian actor, dramatist and poet, mother of G.B. Andreini. After her marriage in the late 1570s to Francesco Andreini, they joined the renowned Compagnia dei Gelosi, assuming the roles of prima donna innamorata and Lelio innamorato. They were favoured performers at the courts of Tuscany, Ferrara, Mantua and France. Isabella led the Gelosi from the 1580s until her death (when it disbanded), negotiating patronage and accepting payments on its behalf. In 1589 she performed alongside her rival Vittoria Piisimi at the wedding celebrations in Florence for Ferdinando de' Medici and Christine of Lorraine; Pavoni described the enthusiasm of the audience for Isabella's performance of the comedy La pazzia d'Isabella, during which she sang canzonette alla francese. Her talents as an author were also widely praised and she was accepted into the Accademia degli Intenti of Pavia in 1601. Of her nearly 500 lyric poems (two books of which were published in Milan in ...


Andreini [née Ramponi], Virginia  

Tim Carter and Anne MacNeil

[‘La Florinda’ ]

(b Milan, Jan 1, 1583; d Bologna, 1629–30). Italian actor, singer and poet, first wife of G.B. Andreini. When they married in 1601, Virginia and her husband formed the Compagnia del Fedeli, in which she assumed the role of prima donna innamorata. Her stage name derived from her performance in Giovanni Battista’s tragedy La Florinda (1603, Florence). In spring 1608 she replaced Caterina Martinelli as the protagonist of Monteverdi’s Arianna and took part in his Ballo delle ingrate during the wedding celebrations for Prince Francesco Gonzaga and Margherita of Savoy; according to Antonio Costantini (1608), she learnt the part for Arianna in six days. She also sang the title role in G.C. Monteverdi’s opera Il rapimento di Proserpina during the festivities for the birth of the Infanta Margherita Gonzaga in 1611. Contemporary accounts suggest that her performance in Arianna was exceptionally powerful, and her talents as a singer were recalled with praise by Bonini in his ...


Angelou, Maya  

Josephine Wright

(b St. Louis, MO, Apr 4, 1928). American poet, novelist, playwright, actor, and educator. Angelou was educated at Stamps, AR, and the Labor School in San Francisco. Her early career focused on dance and drama. In 1959 she moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild. Exploring various kinds of oppression (economic, racial, and sexual), she has published more than ten books of poetry, six autobiographies, of which I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) is the best known, numerous plays, and librettos for musicals, as well as scripts for film and television. The reading of her commissioned poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of President William Jefferson Clinton (20 January 1993) brought her national recognition. Other texts by this celebrated African American poet have been set to music by Bolcom, Danielpour, Garner, Deon Nielson Price, and Judith Weir. Among her honors are two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize, three Grammy Awards (...


Aṭrash, Farīd al-  

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....


Beolco, Angelo  

Nancy Dersofi


(b Padua c1496; d Padua, March 17, 1542). Italian playwright, actor, singer and poet. His plays are remarkable for their innovative use of popular Paduan genres combined with pastoral eclogue and learned comedy in imitation of antiquity. In the plays 52 songs, mentioned or sung, divide scenes or carry the action, as in L’Anconitana, where a Paduan servant named Ruzante holds a song contest with his Venetian master. Speaking the dialect of the Paduan countryside, Ruzante appears in most of Beolco’s plays. The playwright-actor performed Ruzante’s role and adopted his character’s name. Modern critics have identified the author with his character, whose polemics against the rustics’ historical antagonists, whether Venetian merchants, Paduan noblemen or proponents of a Tuscanizing academic culture, inform Ruzante’s theatre. Not least, Ruzante satirizes the country figure he impersonates.

Ruzante was also renowned for his singing voice. In addition to the songs in the plays, nine extant canzoni are attributed to him. Settings by Willaert of ...


Björn, Didrik Gabriel  

Bertil H. van Boer

(b Stockholm, Aug 10, 1757; d Vaxhälla, March 17, 1810). Swedish actor, singer and librettist . He made his début as an actor as Count Almaviva in Beaumarchais’ play Le barbier de Séville in 1785 at the New Swedish Theatre, where he became well known for his comic roles and original opera librettos, mostly written for Carl Stenborg’s comic opera. In 1790 he became an administrator at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, a position he held until after Gustavus III’s assassination in 1792. In 1794 he turned to publishing in the provincial town of Linköping. During his career he supplied the texts for more than 65 one-act comedies with music, including the Singspiels Födelsedagen (‘The Birthday’, 1790), Fricorpsen eller Dalkarlarne (‘The Free Corps or Men from Dalacarlia’, 1788) and Marknaden (‘The Market Place’, 1792), all with music by Kraus. His tenor voice was considered expressive but fairly weak; his main talent as an actor lay in his satirical portrayals of figures such as Abbé Vogler in the first of the operas named above....


Bland, James A(llen)  

Charles Haywood

(b Flushing, NY, 22 Oct 1854; d Philadelphia, PA, 5 May 1911). American minstrel performer and songwriter.

He was educated in Washington, DC, where he enrolled in the law department of Howard University but left at the end of his second year owing to lack of interest. He was deeply moved by the spirituals and the rhythm and harmony of the work songs of laborers on the university campus. He learned to play the banjo, taught himself the rudiments of harmony, and began composing songs. He organized musical groups, becoming active in the Manhattan Club (a group of musically gifted young African Americans employed in government), and performed at various social functions, where he soon became known as a versatile entertainer. He found the perfect outlet for his musical and theatrical talents in the minstrel show and joined the Original Black Diamonds of Boston as a leading performer in ...


Bogusławski, Wojciech  

Barbara Chmara-Żackiewicz

(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 ...


Bono, Sonny  

Jonas Westover

[Salvatore Phillip]

(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 ...


Bray, John  

Anne Dhu McLucas

(b England, June 19, 1782; d Leeds, June 19, 1822). English actor, composer and arranger. He was active in Philadelphia, New York and Boston from 1805 to 1822. He went to Philadelphia in 1805 as a member of Warren and Reinagle’s theatre company, and also acted in Charleston, New York, Richmond and Baltimore. In 1815 he moved to Boston, where he remained active until the onset of his final illness, when he went back to Leeds.

Most of Bray’s compositions are songs for the stage, patriotic songs and sacred works. His most important work is the ‘Operatic Melo Drame’ The Indian Princess, based on the story of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas; this was issued in 1808 in a vocal score which, besides songs and choruses, included the overture and instrumental background pieces for the scenes in melodrama – an unusually complete publication for the period. Bray’s musical style is less polished than that of his American contemporaries Reinagle, Graupner and Taylor; although his melodies are graceful and full of rhythmic variety, his piano textures often lack clarity....


Calmo, Andrea  

Charles Warren

(b 1509–10; d Venice, Feb 23, 1571). Italian actor, poet and writer of comedies, active in Venice. Some of his poems were set by Lodovico Agostini in Musica sopra le rime bizzarre di M. Andrea Calmo, & altri autori (1567). More significant are his ‘piacevoli et ingeniosi discorsi in più lettere compresi’ (ed. in Rossi), which include many references to music and musicians. A few of these fanciful letters in dialect are addressed to composers of his day, for example Willaert, whose music, according to Calmo, was alchemically ‘distilled’, ‘purged’ and ‘refined’ to the point where it had reached ‘la condition de l'aurum potabile’ (Rossi, p.199). Calmo was also an able musician in his own right in the tradition of the humanist improvvisatori; according to Alessandro Zilioli (Vite dei poeti italiani) he played the parts of Pantalone and ‘the singer’ for the ‘famous companies of comedians which flourished in Italy at that time’ (see Rossi). He is now regarded as one of the creators (along with ...


Carré, Albert  

Richard Langham Smith

(b Strasbourg, June 22, 1852; d Paris, Dec 12, 1938). French theatre and opera administrator, director, actor and librettist. Carré had studied drama at the Paris Conservatoire and had a successful career as an actor before becoming co-director of various Paris theatres: first the Vaudeville, and later the Théâtre Libre and the Comédie-Française. He soon left the Vaudeville to become director of the theatre in Nancy. Carré’s main contribution to operatic history was made as director of the Opéra-Comique, a post which he held from 1898 to 1914 and where his strong team included André Messager as musical director and Lucien Jusseaume as designer. He worked hard to raise the musical standards of this institution and was responsible for the premières of major operas by French composers: he commissioned Debussy’s Pelléas, Charpentier’s Louise and Dukas’ Ariane et Barbe-bleue, and works by Hahn, Bruneau and Hüe. He gave the first French performances of several Italian operas, including ...


Casey, Warren  

Scott Warfield

(b Yonkers, NY, April 20, 1935; d Chicago, IL, Nov 8, 1988). American composer, lyricist, writer, and actor. After graduation from Syracuse University, Casey taught in New York City schools before moving to Chicago in the early 1960s, where he met Jim Jacobs at the Chicago Stage Guild. The two collaborated on a parody of high school students in the 1950s, which was produced in 1971 in Chicago. Casey and Jacobs then moved to New York to rewrite the play, composing a new score with a faux rock ’n’ roll sound. Grease opened off-Broadway in 1972, before moving later that year to Broadway. Although never a favorite of critics, Grease was commercially successful and closed in 1980 with the then-longest run in Broadway’s history (3388 performances). Its 1994 production was at the time the longest run of a revival (1503 performances), and a motion picture version and sequel were also profitable. Casey’s papers, archived in the Chicago Theatre Collection at the Chicago Public Library, include materials for perhaps a dozen other shows, none of which was ever produced....


Cicognini, Jacopo  

William V. Porter

(b Castrocaro, nr Forlì, March 27, 1577; d Florence, Oct 27, 1633). Italian playwright, poet and actor, father of Giacinto Andrea Cicognini. In 1586–7 he was enrolled at the Compagnia di S Antonio da Padova in Florence. By 1600 he had received a diploma in law, from Pisa. From 1601 to 1615 he served various aristocratic patrons in Rome, although he made frequent appearances in Florence during this period. In 1605 he married the Florentine Isabella di Domenico Berti and in 1611 he apparently began his various collaborations with Jacopo Peri, who in that year reported the completion of the music for one of Cicognini's librettos, probably Adone. After a brief period of service for Cardinal Capponi at Bologna in 1614, he apparently lived in Florence until his death by suicide in 1633. In 1618 the Florentine carnival activities included his texts for Andromeda, an elaborate intermedio with music by Domenico Belli. Another of his secular works, ...


Colón, Willie  

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 (...


Comden, Betty  

Gerald Bordman

revised by Paul R. Laird

[Cohen, Elizabeth]

(b New York, NY, May 3, 1917; d New York, NY, Nov 23, 2006). American librettist, lyricist, and actor. She had a lifelong writing partnership with Adolph Green (1914–2002). They began their professional careers as members of the Revuers, performing satirical shows in New York nightclubs. Comden and Green wrote most of the group’s sketches. Their collaboration, which usually included creating a show’s lyrics and book, became firmly established with their first musical for Broadway, On the Town (1944, with music by Leonard Bernstein), in which they also performed. They worked again with Bernstein on Wonderful Town (1953), and wrote several shows with Jule Styne: Two on the Aisle (1951), Peter Pan (1954), Bells Are Ringing (1956), Say Darling (1958), Do Re Mi (1960), Subways Are for Sleeping (1961), Fade Out—Fade In...


Crespo (Díaz), Elvis  

J. Ryan Bodiford

(b New York, NY, July 30, 1971). American singer, composer, actor, and activist of Puerto Rican descent. Known to his fans as the King of Merengue, he has achieved international recognition for his self-styled brand of urban merengue fusion, which incorporates influences from Latin American genres like samba, salsa, and bomba, while also employing slick pop production techniques and hip-hop aesthetics. Romantic lyrical sentiments and attention to fashion further characterize his professional approach.

Crespo was raised primarily in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. His career began when he was 17 when he joined the Willie Berríos Orchestra in San Juan; however, his major breakthrough came in 1995 when he joined the established Puerto Rican merengue group, Manía. Helping to infuse Manía’s sound with more of a hip-hop edge, Crespo wrote two of the group’s biggest hits, “Linda eh” and “Ojitos bellos.” After three years gaining recognition with the group, he went solo in ...