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Kate Daubney

(George )

(b New York, Feb 13, 1908; d Los Angeles, April 24, 1971). American musical director, conductor and arranger. He began his career as a pianist, playing and arranging for jazz artists, in particular for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in the late 1920s. His arrangements of classic songs for Whiteman, such as Nobody's Sweetheart, are considered among the finest of their era, blending jazz instruments with those of the traditional orchestra. His later arrangement of Star Dust provided a hit in the early 1940s for clarinettist Artie Shaw. In 1940 he became musical director for Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios before moving to Twentieth Century-Fox in 1953. He was involved in arranging scores for a number of films and musicals including The Harvey Girls (1945) and The Pirate (1948); the arrangements reflect the complexity achieved in his work for Whiteman, although film music had only recently incorporated jazz into its idioms. He was nominated for Academy Awards for his work on several notable musicals, including ...


Brian Priestley

revised by Alyn Shipton


(b London, March 30, 1900; d Virginia Water, nr Egham, Nov 18, 1969). English trombonist and bandleader. He studied the tenor horn with his father before taking up the trombone. After a period as a street musician (until 1922), he became a regular sideman with several prominent British dance bands, notably those of Bert Ambrose (1928–36), Sydney Lipton (1936–9), Geraldo (1939–44) and Jack Hylton. Though not a strong jazz soloist, Heath seized the chance in 1944 to form his own band, which made regular broadcasts, gave the ‘Swing Sessions’ concerts at the London Palladium and soon began to tour frequently. Employing the very best section players, Heath successfully emulated the precision and versatility of such American bandleaders as Tommy Dorsey and Woody Herman (American musicians were banned from performing in Britain from 1935 to 1956). The many jazzmen who worked with him included Kenny Baker, Jack Parnell, and (consecutively) Ronnie Scott, Tommy Whittle, Danny Moss and Don Rendell; he also commissioned such enterprising arrangers as John Dankworth, Tadd Dameron (briefly in ...


Kate Daubney

(b Haverstraw, NY, Aug 25, 1908; d Los Angeles, Feb 3, 1980). American musical director, orchestrator and conductor. His association with cinema music began as a young man with employment as a pianist and organist for a silent movie theatre in Mechanicsville, New York. He became a protégé of Leo Forbstein, the first musical director at Warner Brothers' studios, after helping with the scoring of the first sound film, The Jazz Singer (1927). He effectively served his apprenticeship with Warner Brothers, rising through the music department as a performer and orchestrator-arranger. During this period he orchestrated for Steiner on Daughters Courageous (1939). When Forbstein retired in 1947, Heindorf succeeded him, remaining as head of the department until 1959, although he continued to conduct and arrange scores. He was nominated for 18 Academy Awards between 1942 and 1968, and received three: for the musical direction on ...


Steven Ledbetter


(b Dublin, Feb 1, 1859; d New York, May 26, 1924). American composer, conductor and cellist of Irish birth. He was the most talented and successful American operetta composer and important also as an advocate of copyright and performance-rights protection for composers.

Herbert’s father died when the boy was an infant, and he grew up in London with his maternal grandfather, the celebrated Irish novelist, poet and composer Samuel Lover (1798–1868). In 1866 Fanny Lover Herbert married a German physician; the family settled in Stuttgart, where Victor received musical training as well as a strong liberal education. He retained a lasting pride in his Irish (Protestant) heritage, reflected in many of his operettas.

He turned to music when financial difficulties prevented him from pursuing medicine, studied the cello with Bernhard Cossmann (1874–6), then entered the Stuttgart Conservatory, where he studied with Max Seifritz. He spent a year in the orchestra of the wealthy Russian Baron Paul von Derwies and another year in Vienna as soloist with the orchestra of Eduard Strauss, who had succeeded his brother Johann. In the light of his operetta work, the time in Vienna must be regarded as a significant formative experience. In ...



Andrew Lamb

[Ronger, Florimond]

(b Houdain, June 30, 1825; d Paris, Nov 3, 1892). French composer, singer and conductor. On his father's death in 1835, his mother took him to Paris. He found employment at the church of St Roch, where he learnt the rudiments of singing, organ and harmony; he then briefly studied harmony with Elwart at the Conservatoire and later composition with Auber. From 1839 to 1845 he was organist at the Bicêtre asylum and began a music class for the patients, writing songs, choruses and other entertainments for them. For eight years from 1845 he was organist at St Eustache.

For his theatrical career he took the name Hervé, gradually gaining recognition through his Don Quichotte et Sancho Pança (1848) and engagements at the Théâtre de l’Odéon and Théâtre du Palais-Royal, where he appeared as author, composer, conductor, actor, tenor buffo singer and producer, as required. His five-act ...


Thomas L. Gayda

(b Königsberg [now Kaliningrad], Feb 14, 1896; d Munich, May 30, 1961). German composer and pianist. From the age of 13 he studied theory and counterpoint with the conductor and composer Paul Scheinpflug, who gave the première of his first major composition, Frühlings-Notturno, in Berlin in 1917. The following year the Rhapsodische Symphonie was given its première by the Vienna PO under Felix Weingartner. After World War I he wrote stage music for Berlin, where he became acquainted with the leading exponents of Weimar cabaret and, along with Friedrich Hollaender and Mischa Spoliansky, is credited with creating the classic Weimar cabaret chanson. He wrote for the cabaret Schall und Rauch, and was musical director for the Wilde Bühne.

From 1925 onwards Heymann became involved in films and, with the advent of sound pictures, joined with lyricist Robert Gilbert to write extremely successful songs epitomizing the thriving culture of the pre-Nazi German film industry, with evergreens such as ...


Peter Kemp

(b Carshalton, Feb 9, 1952). English soprano. She studied at the GSM under Arthur Reckless and Vilem Tausky, then gained widespread recognition touring the USA, Canada, Australasia and the UK in Gilbert and Sullivan operas, also performing principal roles in early French opera with the English Bach Festival. She made her operatic début with the ENO (1978) as Adele (Die Fledermaus), followed by principal roles with the Royal Opera, Scottish, Welsh and Canadian Opera, Lyric Opera of Singapore, New Sadler’s Wells, D’Oyly Carte and the new Carl Rosa company. She has performed in opera, oratorio and in concert at many of the major European festivals including the BBC Proms, Aldeburgh, Paris, Athens and Cologne, and has made regular appearances on television and radio.

Hill Smith is adept at a wide variety of musical styles, and her award-winning recordings range from Rameau to Lehár. She is most acclaimed for her interpretation of operetta and has made a noted contribution to the recording of rare works by Johann Strauss II. Her voice is warm yet silver-toned with an innate intelligence of phrasing and clarity of diction. Max Schönherr was an enthusiastic admirer, while Mary Ellis deemed her ability to sing in true Viennese style ‘a technique that is all but lost these days’....


Fritz Spiegl

(b Berlin, March 22, 1925; d London, Sept 28, 1959). British artist, illustrator, musician and humorist. Of German birth and Jewish parentage, he was a refugee from Nazi Germany. Educated at Hornsey and Harrow Schools of art, he taught art briefly before devoting himself to a career as a freelance cartoonist. He was a contributor to Lilliput, Tatler and Punch magazines, among other publications. His early drawings suggest an influence of the German illustrators Wihelm Busch (especially his musical cartoons) and Walter Trier. In particular they feature musicians and their instruments, transfigured by Hoffnung’s distinctive imagination, high spirits and sense of fun. His paintings to Ravel’s opera L’enfant et les sortilèges, for which the librettist Colette wrote a special text, were exhibited at the Festival of Britain (1951) and subsequently published. A series of books of musical cartoons appeared almost yearly until Hoffnung’s death, since when five further collections have been published. In the mid-1960s, Halas & Batchelor produced seven animated cartoon films based on these drawings....


Harry Sumrall


(b Brooklyn, NY, June 30, 1917; d New York, NY, May 9, 2010). American actress and popular singer. She began her professional career as a dancer in the Cotton Club, Harlem, when she was 16 years old. She then toured as a singer with several black American dance bands, including those of Noble Sissle and Charlie Barnet, and appeared in the Broadway musical Blackbirds of 1939. In 1941 she began a singing engagement at Café Society Downtown, New York, where she worked with the bandleaders Teddy Wilson and Sid Catlett. She then went to Hollywood to sing at the Little Troc and shortly afterwards became the first black performer to sign a contract with a major studio (MGM). Her roles in a number of films, which included Panama Hattie (1942), Cabin in the Sky (1943), Stormy Weather (1943), Swing Fever (1943...


(b Kuschwarda [now Kunžvart, Czech Republic], Aug 16, 1876; d New York, Dec 23, 1911). American composer, arranger and oboist of Bohemian birth. He studied the piano, harmony and composition at the Vienna Conservatory, and played oboe in the Austrian army band. In 1896 he went to the USA. For two years he was an oboist in the orchestra led by Victor Herbert and then became a music copyist and arranger for Witmark, producing sheet-music editions of musical-comedy and other popular tunes. In 1902 he began to write his own operettas, mostly with the lyricist Otto A. Harbach. He wrote 13 stage works, all ‘number’ operettas with some dialogue and published by Witmark. His first success was the ‘musical farce’ Three Twins (1908), in which the singer and dancer Bessie McCoy established her reputation. Later popular works included Madame Sherry (1910), The Fascinating Widow...