(b Philadelphia, PA, July 19, 1843; d Philadelphia, PA, 1918). American pianist, singer, educator, and composer. He studied music with his father Thomas à Becket Sr. (b 17 March 1808; d 6 Jan 1890) and in Philadelphia public schools. The father, a music teacher, actor and composer, wrote Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean. In 1855 Thomas à Becket Jr. performed at the Walnut Street Theatre in a work written by his father. He developed into one of the finest, most sought after accompanists in the city, joining with leading artists and singing groups. Member and president of the Mendelssohn Club, he sang in a series of 35 light operas produced at the Amateur Drawing Room (1868–72) and accompanied the Orpheus Club (1877–98). An important educator, from 1873 until he died à Becket taught and played the organ at Girard College, a residential school for orphaned boys. À Becket became a member of a group of professional musicians who evaluated music teaching methods in the Philadelphia Public Schools. À Becket family archives at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts include diaries (...
Martha Furman Schleifer
revised by Ole Kongsted
[Sistinus, Theodoricus; Malmogiensis, Trudo Haggaei]
(fl 1593–1625). Danish composer and organist. He was appointed organist of Vor Frue Kirke (now the cathedral), Copenhagen, on 23 June 1593 after having ‘pursued and learnt his art during a long period both in Germany and Italy’. He received a number of preferments, such as the free residence formerly set aside for the palace preacher, awarded to him in 1603. He was also on at least two occasions sent on commissions for the king, once to Prague (1600). He published under his latinized name Theodoricus Sistinus a set of secular Cantiones for three voices (Hamburg, 1608; ed. in Dania sonans, ii, 1966), his only known published music. The publication is dedicated to King Christian IV of Denmark, and it may be assumed that it won his approval, for during the period 1609–11 he received payments from the royal treasury in addition to his salary as organist, perhaps for teaching at the court. As early as ...
(bKouvola, Finland, Dec 12, 1935). Finnishtenor and alto saxophonist and flutist. He learned to play guitar and tenor saxophone during his years of schooling and army service, and spent three years in Sweden without playing; after returning to Finland he took up baritone saxophone, then changed to the alto instrument. He studied flute at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and later spent a period in Boston at the Berklee College of Music. In the 1950s he played in a sextet led by the trumpeter Heikki Rosendahl in Inkeroinen. He moved to Helsinki in 1961 and worked frequently as a studio musician, except during the late 1970s, when a three-year government grant gave him the freedom to pursue his own musical interests. At the same time he made a name as a lyrical free-jazz and jazz-rock soloist, recording with Eero Koivistoinen (1969–73), Edward Vesala (from ...
(bToronto, Jan 27, 1910; dCanada, Nov 1970). Americanreed player. He played alto saxophone and in 1942 recorded with Jack Teagarden. After moving to Hollywood he performed and recorded with the bandleaders Horace Heidt (1943–5, 1948–9) and Skinnay Ennis (1945–8), then toured Europe and Asia and recorded with Les Brown, first on clarinet and alto saxophone (...
revised by Barry Kernfeld
(b Pittsburgh, March 23, 1932; d Laguna Woods, CA, Nov 17, 2015). American trumpeter and flugelhorn player. He studied music in Pittsburgh (1947–50), in Evanston, Illinois (with Renold Schilke of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 1951–3), and at Wayne State University, Detroit (mid-1950s), where he worked for seven nights a week in the band at the Flame Show Bar. From 1956 to 1957 he played at Klein’s Showbar with Yusef Lateef, Pepper Adams, Kenny Burrell, Louis Hayes, and Tommy Flanagan, after which he was a member of Barry Harris’s band at the Bluebird Inn. He performed with Wild Bill Davis (1961), then joined Count Basie while working in a club in Washington, DC. He toured and recorded with Basie from August 1961 to July 1969; he appears as a soloist with the group on Back to the Apple on the Swedish television broadcast One O’Clock Jump...
(b Paris, Jan 16, 1920; d Suresnes, Hautes de Seine, France, March 29, 2020). French clarinetist and bandleader. In 1941 he put together a jazz band which by 1943 had been joined by Boris Vian and was considered the first revival band in France. At its peak, in the years 1944–6, Abadie introduced such musicians as Claude Luter, Jef Gilson, and, from 1945, the Fol brothers, who may be heard on Tin Roof Blues (1946, Swing 212) and I’ve found a new baby (1946, Pathé 1013 [EP]). The band was strongly influenced by the Chicagoans and Bix Beiderbecke. In 1949 Abadie assembled a new band with such young players as Benny Vasseur and Jean-Claude Fohrenbach. He then retired from music (1952–63), but from 1965 led a modern-jazz nonet or tentet, which included the tenor saxophonist Paul Vernon (playing in a style influenced by Lester Young), with a repertory consisting of compositions by Ahmad Jamal, John Lewis, John Coltrane, and others. Abadie continued to lead this group for the remainder of his life, to age 100, directing and playing clarinet solos; they perform compositions of Thelonious Monk in the video ...
(b Vilnius, USSR [now Lithuania], March 28, 1959). Lithuanian pianist. He played accordion from the age of four, studied piano from 1966 to 1977, and took courses in composition and jazz history at the M. K. Čiurlionis Gymnasium of Arts. At that time he admired rock music, but a recording by Oscar Peterson led to his interest in jazz. From 1977 he studied classical piano and composition at the Lithuanian music academy. In 1978 he formed a trio, which continued with a few changes in membership until 1994, and in the 1980s he led Jazz Archiv, a fusion group. He ceased to perform in public in 1992, though the trio played together for two more years. Abarius is admired for his use of impressionistic harmonies, his pure strong sound, and his impeccable technique, as heard on his album Reminiscence Blues (1988, Mel. C60-27877-007). He also plays other keyboard instruments and composes....
Gary W. Kennedy
(b Fall River, MA, May 31, 1947). American alto saxophonist. He attended the Berklee School of Music (1966–71), after which he moved to Hollywood and worked in various local bands. He later toured internationally as a member of Ray Charles’s orchestra (1973–5), in which he succeeded David “Fathead” Newman, and then settled in Providence, Rhode Island, where he led a fusion group, Channel One (1979–84). He was a regular member of Artie Shaw’s orchestra from 1985 to 1987, and continued to work with him intermittently until 1994; during this time he also co-led a quintet with the leader of Shaw’s band, Dick Johnson. Abate performed in California, Quebec, and Spain with Jerome Richardson, and appeared with Red Rodney at Town Hall, New York, in a tribute concert to Charlie Parker. In 1991 he made his first recording as a leader and by the late 1990s he was working mainly on the East Coast and in Europe. An effective bop soloist, he has often worked in groups incorporating two saxophones. He also plays tenor and soprano saxophone, and flute....
revised by Gary R. Boye
(b Bitonto, nr Bari; d after 1651). Italian composer and guitarist. He is known by four books of pieces for five-course Baroque guitar. They consist mainly of simple battute accompaniments to popular songs and dances of the early 17th century such as the passacaglia, ciaccona, folia, Ruggiero and aria di Fiorenza. The accompaniments are set down in the alphabet system of chord notation (alfabeto) devised by Girolamo Montesardo, in which letters of the alphabet designate fingering positions for various major and minor chords. Each of Abatessa’s books contains instructions concerning the interpretation of the alphabet tablature, the fingering of the chords and the tuning of the guitar; the 1652 book also explains how to tune the guitar with the harp, presumably for the simultaneous playing of continuo parts. The 1627 collection gives instructions regarding the execution of certain kinds of strum such as the trillo and ...
Giovanni Carli Ballola
revised by Roberta Montemorra Marvin
(b Alessandria, March 20, 1851; d Alessandria, May 2, 1894). Italian organist and composer. He began his musical studies with his stepfather, Pietro Cornaglia. From 1868 to 1871 he attended the Milan Conservatory, studying the piano with Antonio Angeleri and composition with Lauro Rossi and Mazzucato. His graduation exercise, the cantata Caino e Abele, won the first prize and a medal of honour. He toured abroad as a concert pianist, but from 1880 until his death was organist at the cathedral in Alessandria, where he also founded a school of composition, singing and piano, and conducted concerts for the Associazione filarmonica alessandrina. He composed three operas, Isabella Spinola (1877, Milan), Maria di Warden (1884, Venice) and Una partita a scacchi (1892, Pavia), the latter based on Giuseppe Giacosa's popular comedy. In these works, which did not have much success, Abbà Cornaglia remained uninfluenced by the innovatory tendencies of the ‘Scapigliatura’ and of Catalani and by the new ...
(b Genoa, 1821; d Milan, 1896). Italian mezzo-soprano . She studied with her father, the composer and teacher Natale Abbadia, making her début in 1836 at Sassari. In Vienna she sang Corilla in Donizetti’s Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali (1840). At La Scala she created Giulietta in Verdi’s ...
(b Milan, June 26, 1933; d Bologna, Jan 20, 2014). Italian conductor. Son of the violinist and teacher Michelangelo Abbado, he heard Debussy’s Nocturnes as a small boy and immediately had the ambition to become a conductor. Soon after the war he attended rehearsals by Furtwängler and Toscanini in Milan; his quiet, undemonstrative manner on the podium derives in part from his aversion to the dictatorial approach he witnessed in Toscanini. He first learnt the piano with his father, and studied at the Milan Conservatory until 1955, before going to the Vienna Music Academy to study conducting with Hans Swarowsky. In 1958 he won the Koussevitzky Competition, and a series of concert and operatic engagements in Italy followed. His career was further boosted when he won the Mitropoulos Prize in 1963 and worked for five months with the New York PO. His international success was rapid, and led to his first appearances at the Salzburg Festival in ...
(b Milan, Dec 30, 1954). Italian conductor. He studied at the conservatories in Pesaro and Milan, and with Franco Ferrara in Rome. He made his conducting début with the orchestra of the Accademia di S Cecilia in 1977, and his operatic début, with Simon Boccanegra, in Macerata the following year. His career developed with guest appearances in leading Italian opera houses and regular collaborations with orchestras in Italy, France, Germany and the USA, where he made his début (with the Orchestra of St Luke’s) in 1991. He has also conducted at the Edinburgh Festival (1982) and at festivals in Israel, Lille and Munich. In 1991 Abbado was appointed chief conductor of the Munich RO, a post he held until 1998. Meanwhile, he has consolidated his operatic career with guest engagements at La Scala, the Vienna Staatsoper, the Staatsoper in Munich (making his début with a new production of ...
Rainer E. Lotz
(bMinneapolis, May 7, 1900; dMinneapolis, Sept 15, 1975). Americanbandleader and violinist. He began his career playing light and classical music as a member of J. Rosamond Johnson’s orchestra (1920–25). In 1925 he recorded as a soloist with Clara Smith (If you only knowed, Col. 14058D, and You better keep the home fires burning, Col. 14062D) and began to lead his own band. The following year he directed the Savoy Bearcats, and in 1927 he reorganized the group for a tour of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay; he also took a band to England. Between 1928 and 1939 he toured extensively in Europe and visited India twice. After returning to the USA he organized a band in 1940 for Ethel Waters, toured with a small group, and then settled in Chicago, where he played regularly with a trio until 1964. Although he was not a jazz soloist, Abbey employed excellent sidemen, including Fletcher Allen, Emile Christian, Bill Coleman, Peter DuConge, and Crickett Smith. His jazz recordings as a leader remain unissued except for ...
H. Wiley Hitchcock
revised by Katherine K. Preston
(b Chicago, Dec 9, 1850; d Salt Lake City, Jan 5, 1891). American soprano and impresario. She studied first with her father and by the age of nine was performing professionally. She joined an itinerant concert troup in 1866 and after it disbanded went to New York to study with Achille Errani; her concert début there was in December 1871. In 1872 she went abroad to study with Sangiovanni in Milan and Marchesi, Wartel and Delle Sedie in Paris. Her operatic début at Covent Garden was as Marie in La fille du régiment (2 May 1876), but her contract was cancelled when she refused to sing Violetta on moral grounds.
Abbott secretly married Eugene Wetherell (d 1889); in 1876 they returned to the USA, where she gave concerts. Her American operatic début was in New York on 23 February 1877, again as Marie. In ...
(b Forestville, NY, Jan 25, 1887; d Miami Beach, FL, Jan 31, 1995). American stage director, producer, playwright, and actor. During a 92-year career in the theater Abbott influenced the development of musical comedy and helped launch many important careers. He made his Broadway acting debut in 1913 and continued to act during the 1920s. He also began working as both a playwright and director. After his first hit, The Fall Guy, Abbott began to write and stage fast-paced melodramas. In 1932 he co-produced a farce called 20th Century; it was in this genre that he defined a fast-paced theatrical style that became known as the Abbott Touch. He was the leading director of musical comedies. Abbott also wrote the books for On your Toes (1936), The Boys from Syracuse (1938), and Pal Joey (1940), the scores of which were composed by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. In ...
(b Cairo, 1910; d Cairo, May 3, 1991). Egyptian composer and singer. As a child he had a remarkable musical memory, and at the age of seven he joined a drama troupe to sing during intervals. In 1920 he began studies of traditional Arab music at the Arabic Music Club (now the Institute of Arabic Music), and he also studied Western music for a time at the Bergrün School in Cairo. He then embarked on a dual career as a singer-composer; possessing a fine baritone voice, he achieved great popularity, and he also won fame for his improvisations on the ‘ud (lute). His acquaintance with the poet Aḥmad Shawqī helped him socially, and his settings of Shawqī are classics of the genre. Chosen by Sayyid Darwīsh to perform in his operetta Al-barouka (or La mascotte), ‘Abd al-Wahhāb some years later completed Darwīsh's posthumous Cleopatra, though he composed no original music for the theatre. However, he played in many musical films, performing his own songs. Among the awards he received are the Order of Merit and the State Prize for the Arts....
Lucrecia R. Kasilag
(b Santa Cruz, Manila, May 14, 1876; d Manila, April 23, 1944). Filipino composer, conductor and violin teacher. At an early age he studied solfège, composition, conducting and the violin with Ladislao Bonus. He played the violin in the Rizal Orchestra in his youth, and in 1910 he founded the Oriental Orchestra; in the early 1920s he conducted many zarzuelas and operas. He was the moving spirit behind the Manila Chamber Music Society, of which he became director in 1921. A well-known violin teacher, he also excelled as a nationalist composer. Among his works are the zarzuelas Ang sampaguita (‘The Sampaguita Flower’), Anak ng dagat (‘Son of the Sea’), Luha’t dugo (‘Tears and Blood’), Ang masamang kaugalian (‘The Bad Traits’), Delinquente and Declaracion de amor. Other compositions include a cantata, O! dios sa kalangitan (‘O God in Heaven’), Ibong adarna (‘The Adarna Bird’), a coloratura song, and Kundiman...
Lisa A. Urkevich
[Muḥammed ‘Abdu ‘Othmān Marzuq al-Dehel al-‘Asīrī]
(b Jizan, Saudi Arabia, 1949). Saudi singer, composer and ‘ūd (lute) player. His father was a well-known sailor who died when Muḥammed was two years old. Muḥammed began singing at the age of six, and at nine he received his first vocal training through the study of Qur'anic recitation, which, along with the call to prayer (adhān), he offered at school events. About the age of 13 he became involved with amateur traditional singers and learnt to play the ‘ūd. Because of his close proximity to Yemen, he encountered master musicians of the al-yamānī style. He gained a diploma in shipbuilding and was offered a scholarship to study in Japan, but declined the offer, preferring to become a professional musician. His first recognized composition was Hala yā bū sha'ar tha'ir (1965). He went on to record over 80 albums in a variety of styles, including popular Egyptian styles, but he has been most appreciated for his folkloric, traditional Saudi and Gulf pieces. He gained an international reputation and has often been called ‘...
(bNew York, Jan 30, 1927; dNew York, Oct 2, 1993). Double bass and ‘ūd player. His early influences included the music played and sung by his father, who was Sudanese, and the Middle Eastern and East European music he heard growing up in Brooklyn’s multiracial community. He began learning violin at the age of seven and later studied double bass, piano, and tuba and attended the High School of the Performing Arts in New York. At this time he played Greek, Syrian, and Gypsy music professionally at weddings and other occasions. After playing double bass with Art Blakey (1945–8), Don Byas (1946), Sam “the Man” Taylor (1954), and Randy Weston (1954–7) he worked with Thelonious Monk (1957–8), with whom he recorded in performance at the Five Spot in New York and appeared on television in the CBS series “The Seven Lively Arts,” as well as on “The Sound of Jazz” (both ...