(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
John R. Gardner
( b London, 1817; d London, Dec 11, 1863). English composer . She was the eldest daughter of Joseph Glossop, a friend of George IV; she married Gilbert Abbott A’Beckett, a magistrate and humorous writer. Apart from a dozen songs and two waltzes for piano, A’Beckett composed three operas: The Young Pretender...
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 ...
revised by Marc Leroy
(b Whilton, Northants., England, Dec 22, 1785; d Versailles, France, Feb 19, 1859). English organ builder. The son of a local joiner, he first learnt his father’s trade. Against family wishes he was apprenticed to the organ builders James and David Davis and in 1818 went to work with Hugh Russell. Abbey became acquainted with Sébastian Erard in London and went to France in 1826 to build an organ that Erard designed for the 1827 Industrial Exhibition at the Louvre; before 1864 it was moved to the Paris Conservatoire. After moving to Paris and then Versailles, Abbey received a royal commission to build an organ for the chapel of the Légion d’honneur at St Denis and another designed by Erard for the chapel of the Tuileries Palace (1827; destroyed 1830). In 1831 with Meyerbeer’s support Abbey was employed to build an organ for the Paris Opéra (destroyed by fire, ...
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 ...
revised by John D. Drake and Stephan Hörner
(b Bayreuth, Feb 20, 1761; d Stuttgart, March 2, 1838). German composer, pianist and organist. In 1771 he became a pupil of A. Boroni at the Hohe Karlsschule in Stuttgart, where in 1782 he joined the private band of the Duke of Württemberg as a harpsichordist. On Zumsteeg's death in 1802 he succeeded him as Konzertmeister, and took over the direction of the ensemble until the appointment of J.F. Kranz. By 1815 he held the position of organist at court and director of the official music. In 1832, having completed 50 years' service with the court, he was given a gold medal and a pension.
Most of Abeille's compositions date from the first 30 years of his service at Stuttgart. Besides two sonatas for keyboard with accompanying violin (1783), his published instrumental works include sonatas and other pieces for both piano solo and piano duet, a piano trio, a piano concerto and a concerto for piano duet, which was favourably mentioned by Gerber (...
Walter Knape and Murray R. Charters
revised by Simon McVeigh
Member of Abel family
(b Ludwigslust, July 24, 1795; d London, 1871). German pianist and composer, grandson of Leopold August Abel. He was brought up by his father, August Christian Andreas Abel, to emulate his great-uncle Carl Friedrich Abel. An attempted tour as a child prodigy, during which he played the piano and violin and later the cello, was a failure. After some success teaching music in German courts, his health failed and he left his homeland in ...
(b Lemberg [now L’viv], July 14, 1872; d Weidling, nr Vienna, Sept 1, 1932). Polish soprano of Austrian parentage . She first appeared as a child prodigy, singing operatic arias in her native town. At 13 she entered the Vienna Conservatory; she later studied in Milan, becoming highly proficient in florid singing while developing a voice of considerable power. She made her début (1889) in La sonnambula at the Vienna Opera. In the Munich première of Falstaff she sang Mrs Ford, and at Dresden in 1902 sang Tosca in the opera’s German première. She retired in 1908, having sung some 70 operatic roles, ranging from coloratura parts such as the Queen of Night and Lucia to dramatic roles including Sieglinde and Venus. A few rare gramophone records made in 1902 display some dubious stylistic qualities along with an extraordinary fluency in decorative work and a warm, limpid tone characteristic of the Lamperti school....
Nicholas Michael Butler
(fl 1773–1820). Scottish violinist, viola d’amore player, and teacher. Abercromby was born in Scotland but educated in French Flanders. After hearing Abercromby play at a St Cecilia Society concert in Charleston in 1773, Josiah Quincy Jr. of Boston wrote, “A Frenchman just arrived, [who] played a first fiddle and solo incomparably, better than any I ever had heard.” During the American Revolutionary War, Abercromby remained in Charleston, where he advertised to teach guitar and dance, and performed at concerts during the British occupation of the city. He left Charleston in 1791, and over the next two decades lived in Bucks County, PA, Baltimore, Richmond, and Lexington. By 1815 he was in Tennessee, where he opened a music academy in Nashville.J. Wooldridge, E. E. Hoss, and W. B. Reese: History of Nashville, Tennessee (Nashville, TN, 1890) J. Carden: Music in Lexington before 1840 (Lexington, KY, 1980) N. B. Butler...
Alfred E. Lemmon
(fl 1890–95). Guatemalan musical educator and band director. He was the first director of the Guatemalan banda marcial and was appointed director of the National Conservatory of Music in 1890. His initial task in this post was the upgrading of the conservatory's facilities. He acquired a variety of musical instruments and enlarged the institution's library with music primarily from Germany. His tenure as director was marked by particular emphasis on the teaching of stringed instruments, especially the violin. Aberle also worked to establish a new plan of studies, which was accredited by the secretary of public education. If a student failed a course, he or she was given only one opportunity to repeat it successfully, while advanced students were excused courses where appropriate. Scholarships were awarded to exceptional students between the ages of nine and 15, and from 1893 select students were eligible for government scholarships for further studies in Europe....
revised by Michael von der Linn
(b Stuttgart, March 25, 1871; d Stuttgart, Aug 13, 1927). German musicologist. His father was court Kapellmeister at Stuttgart and composed operas, seven symphonies and other works. From 1890 to 1895 Abert studied classics and then music in Berlin under Bellermann, Fleischer and Friedlaender. He took the doctorate at Berlin in 1897 with a dissertation on Greek music, and in 1902 he completed his Habilitation at the University of Halle with a work on the basis of the aesthetics of medieval melody. He was appointed honorary professor in 1909 and reader in 1911. In 1920 he was appointed professor at the University of Leipzig (succeeding Riemann) and in 1923 he became professor at Berlin University (succeeding Kretzschmar). In 1925 he was elected an ordinary member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences at Berlin, the first musicologist to have earned this distinction.
Abert was one of the leading German musicologists of his generation, and he did much to increase regard for his subject among followers of more traditional university disciplines. His numerous distinguished pupils include his daughter ...
Anna Amalie Abert
(b Kochowitz, nr Leitmeritz, Bohemia, Sept 20, 1832; d Stuttgart, April 1, 1915). Bohemian composer. After studying at the Prague Conservatory, he was engaged in 1853 as a double-bass player at the Stuttgart Hofkapelle where he then served as Kapellmeister from 1867 to 1888. Between 1852 and 1894 he composed orchestral and chamber music in addition to sacred and secular vocal works. He was most important in the field of operatic composition, his six operas winning him acclaim as one of the masters between Meyerbeer and Wagner. His first opera, Anna von Landscron (1858), was firmly rooted in the German Romantic opera tradition. However König Enzio, produced four years later, clearly showed the influence of French grand opera, which the composer had studied first-hand during a long visit to Paris. He was especially successful in 1866 with his third opera, Astorga, whose less dramatic text allowed scope for his primarily lyrical style to develop. In ...
Israel J. Katz
(b Berlin, May 30, 1872; d Berlin, Jan 24, 1926). German physician and psychologist. He graduated in medicine at Berlin University in 1894, and thereafter dedicated himself primarily to psychoacoustics and the physiology of music. From 1896 to 1905 he was assistant professor under Carl Stumpf at the Psychological Institute of Berlin University (which in 1905 became the Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv). In 1900, when Hornbostel joined the staff, Abraham and Stumpf recorded on wax cylinders a visiting Siamese court orchestra – the first German attempt to record non-Western music. Abraham also recorded music from South Africa in the same year. In 1901 he published an article on absolute pitch which later (1906) resulted in a polemic between him and Auerbach. Adopting Stumpf's methods, Abraham and Hornbostel entered into a collaboration which laid the foundation for comparative musicology; he also collaborated with the physiologist and otologist K.L. Schaefer (...
(b Szent-György-Ábrány, Oct 15, 1822; d Budapest, Dec 20, 1903). Hungarian writer on music, composer and pianist. He came from the wealthy Eördögh family: the name means ‘devil’ and his father changed it to Ábrányi, the name of their estate. He studied the piano under János Kirch (1810–63) and Vilmos Dolegni. His first composition, Magyar ábránd (‘Hungarian Fantasy’), was published in 1841. In the early 1840s he gave concerts in Hungarian towns, and in 1846 left for Vienna to take piano lessons with Joseph Fischhof. There is no reliable evidence that he was ever a student of Chopin in Paris. From 1847 he lived in Pest, in the 1850s as a piano teacher, and studied composition with Mosonyi, together with whom he became a devoted follower of Liszt and Wagner. He was one of the founders of the first Hungarian music periodical, the Zenészeti lapok, in ...
Edward F. Kravitt
(b Eilenburg, Dec 22, 1819; d Wiesbaden, March 31, 1885). German composer. His father, a clergyman and an enthusiastic pianist, gave him his first instruction in music; he then went to Leipzig to study theology and music at the university and the Thomasschule. There he made friends with Lortzing, Mendelssohn and Schumann. On the death of his father (1837), he decided to concentrate entirely on music. Though engaged in Bernburg (1841) as Kapellmeister, he soon left for Zürich, distinguishing himself there as an outstanding and immensely popular choirmaster. He was appointed director of nearly all of its numerous choral societies in succession, often winning prizes for them. In 1852 he became conductor at the opera house in Brunswick, which had been designated a national theatre in 1818. He was appointed director of the Hofkapelle in 1855. Faithful to his first love, choral conducting, he developed an international reputation and was invited to conduct in many capital cities of Europe. A spectacular reception awaited him on his tour of the USA (...
(b Santiago, 1863; d Santiago, May 29, 1911). Chilean composer. He studied theory and singing at the National Conservatory, and the organ and composition privately. He was organist at Santiago Cathedral, and occasionally conducted zarzuelas. In 1902 he composed the first act of his opera-ballet Caupolicán; based on the 16th-century poem La araucana by Alonso de Ercilla, the libretto is by Pedro Antonio Pérez and Adolfo Urzúa Rozas. The première of Act 1 took place at the Teatro Municipal, Santiago, in June 1902. Acevedo then received an award that enabled him to study in Milan, where he composed the last two acts of Caupolicán. The complete work, comprising three acts and 11 scenes, was given its first performance at the Teatro Municipal, Santiago, on 8 December 1942, more than 30 years after the composer’s death. Acevedo also composed masses and other religious works, but the public, devoted to Italian opera at that time, never accepted his music....
José López-Calo and Andrew Lamb
(b La Granja de S Ildefonso, Segovia, March 20, 1837; d Madrid, Feb 21, 1876). Spanish composer. In 1853 he entered the Madrid Conservatory, where his composition teacher was Emilio Arrieta, and in 1858 he won a gold medal for composition. For an opera competition in 1869 he composed, in collaboration with Antonio Llanos (1841–1906), the prize-winning El puñal de misericordia; he also wrote some religious music, most notably a Stabat mater. However, he was influenced mainly by Arrieta towards the composition of zarzuelas. His works in this genre were well received in his time, particularly Sensitiva (1870), but his fame has now been eclipsed by that of contemporaries such as Barbieri and Oudrid (in collaboration with whom he composed El testamento azul) and Caballero (with whom he composed El trono de Escocia).
zarzuelas unless otherwise stated; for more detailed list see GroveO...
(b Naples, Aug 25, 1829; d Portici, nr Naples, Feb 2, 1909). Italian composer and pianist. He studied the piano and composition in his native town, where he spent his entire life. His prolific output of fluently written, light and brilliant pieces (more than 400 works) won great success with the conventional middle class in Naples, which was culturally behind the times and inclined towards the flimsy, often frivolous genre of salon pieces: Acton's works became an indispensable part of the piano repertory of all daughters ‘of good family’ in Bourbon Naples. An amiable figure but of little distinction, he had no following of his own as a teacher, unlike his Neapolitan colleagues Costantino Palumbo and Alfonso Rendano.