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Jack Litchfield

revised by Mark Miller

(b Glasgow, Oct 31, 1896; d Peterborough, Canada, Aug 12, 1959). Canadian pianist and bandleader. He was taken to Canada as a child and studied piano in Toronto, where he formed a dance orchestra (c1923). Under the influence of his trumpeter, the American Curtis Little, he soon moved towards a “hot dance” style. The band played locally in the mid-1920s on radio and appeared at Sunnyside and Ginn’s pavilions and the Prince George Hotel. The ten numbers it recorded in 1925–6 (including St. Louis Blues, Domino 21563) are among the earliest jazz recordings made by a Canadian band. Watson later turned away from jazz, and retired in 1942 after several years as a society bandleader at Toronto’s Old Mill.

J. Litchfield: The Canadian Jazz Discography, 1916–1980 (Toronto, Buffalo, and London, 1982) M. Miller: Such Melodious Racket: the Lost History of Jazz in Canada, 1914–1949 (Toronto, 1997)...

Article

William H. Tallmadge

(b Santa Cruz, CA, Dec 19, 1911; d Santa Rosa, CA, Nov 5, 1989). American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. In 1938 he founded a swing band in Oakland from which, in 1940, he extracted a small unit, the Yerba Buena Jazz Band, to revive the New Orleans small-band style of King Oliver. Although other small dixieland bands existed at this time, notably Muggsy Spanier’s and Bob Crosby’s, the sense of alleged authenticity projected by Watters’s group set it apart and stimulated a large-scale revival of New Orleans and Chicago jazz throughout the world. Of the many revivalist bands formed during this period, two of the most successful were led by former sidemen in Watters’s group, the trumpeter Bob Scobey and the trombonist Turk Murphy. Watters retired from professional music activities in 1957.

M.W. Stearns: The Story of Jazz (New York, 1956, London, 1957, rev. and enlarged 1970/R)...

Article

Derek Coller

(Horace )

(b London, Oct 8, 1917; d London, March 10, 2010). English pianist and bandleader. In 1942 he formed a band which shortly afterwards became known as George Webb’s Dixielanders; its members included Wally Fawkes and Eddie Harvey. It began by performing once a week at the Red Barn in Barnehurst, Kent (see Nightclubs and other venues), then, through its recordings (including South, 1946, Decca F8735) and performances on radio and in clubs, the group stimulated the jazz-band movement that came to be known as “trad.” After the Dixielanders disbanded in 1948 Webb joined his former sideman Humphrey Lyttelton, with whom he performed until 1951, when he ceased full-time playing. He ran several jazz clubs and worked in jazz promotion and as a booking agent. He again led his own band in 1972–4, and he continued to perform in the 1980s and 1990s at his own pubs and in reunions with Lyttelton’s group....

Article

E. Van Der Straeten

revised by John D. Drake

(b Mannheim, April 18, 1764; d Berlin, March 23, 1821). German pianist, conductor and composer . In 1773 he studied first keyboard playing with Vogler, and then singing and theory respectively with Holzbauer and Einberger, a pupil of Vogler. From 1775 he received instruction in composition from Vogler, who published a keyboard sonata by Weber in his Mannheimer Monatsschrift in 1780. Other early compositions include a collection of songs published with F. Fraenzl the younger in 1784. After studying theology and law at Heidelberg in 1781, Weber is thought to have toured as a virtuoso on Röllig's Xänorphika (an experimental keyboard instrument in which the tone was produced by friction), before becoming musical director of Grossmann's theatre company in Hanover in 1787. Here he became acquainted with the music of Handel and also produced his first stage work. In 1790 he joined Vogler in a tour through Holland, parts of Germany and Scandinavia, at the same time continuing his studies in counterpoint. After a prolonged stay in Stockholm, where he wrote several pieces of church music, Weber appeared with great success as a keyboard virtuoso at Hamburg....

Article

Günther Huesmann

(b Menden, Germany, c1910; dc1944). German bandleader, violinist, trumpeter, and singer. He studied at the Hanover Conservatory at the age of 12; after moving to Berlin around 1930, he formed a trio and then led a sextet. At the beginning of 1935 he formed a dance band which played in a style similar to that of the Casa Loma Orchestra; the players varied in number from 10 to 15 and included Willy Berking. The band, which earned a reputation for the refinement of its playing, made numerous recordings for Telefunken from ...

Article

Vivian Perlis

(b Kiev, Oct 24, 1897; d New York, Jan 10, 1982). American composer, pianist and conductor of Ukrainian birth, father of Yehudi Wyner. In 1914 he emigrated to the USA, where he became an accompanist and coach to prominent singers in New York, while studying composition with Frederick Jacobi, Robert Russell Bennett and Joseph Schillinger. He also conducted several choruses, among them the Workmen’s Circle Chorus (1930–67). From 1930 to 1975 he was music director of the Central Synagogue, and in that capacity was responsible for first performances of compositions by Ernest Bloch, Darius Milhaud and Joseph Achron, as well as of his own works.

A leading exponent of Jewish music in the USA and an expert on Yiddish art song, Weiner taught seminars at Hebrew Union College, the Jewish Theological Seminary and the 92nd Street Y. He served as music director of the WABC weekly radio programme ‘The Message of Israel’ for 35 years (from ...

Article

Erik Levi

(b Freiburg, Dec 26, 1879; d Singen am Hohentweil, Lake Constance, Dec 22, 1950). German composer, pianist and conductor. He was a composition pupil of Rheinberger in Munich in 1892, Herzogenberg in Berlin in 1898 and Thuille in Munich (1899–1902). From 1902 to 1906 he lived as a freelance composer in Munich, and then returned to Freiburg, where he also performed as a conductor, pianist and lieder accompanist. From 1930 he taught harmony and was director of the piano masterclass at the Freiburg Musikseminar which he founded with Doflein; he retired in 1939 to devote himself to composition.

Weismann’s large output embraces all musical genres with the exception of church music. In general he followed the late Romantic styles of Strauss, Humperdinck and Schillings, but also incorporated elements of Impressionist harmony, as well as a polyphonic severity related to Reger. Although technically accomplished, his music lacked sufficiently distinctive touches to establish a really strong identity, and with the exception of the charming Horn Concertino (...

Article

Alexis Chitty

revised by E.D. Mackerness

(b London, Jan 3, 1828; d London, Dec 25, 1891). English violinist, conductor and teacher . He studied with Sainton at the RAM and was elected King’s Scholar (1845). After making a name as an orchestral and solo violinist, he visited the USA, giving the first public performance of Mendelssohn’s Concerto there. He also toured Europe, then joined Michael Costa’s Royal Italian Opera orchestra (1849), and subsequently accepted engagements at Drury Lane, Her Majesty’s Theatre and elsewhere. When the Alexandra Palace opened in 1873 he was appointed musical director, with an orchestra of 42 players and a choir of 300 voices; his programmes included revivals of Handel’s Esther and Susanna, and he ran a symphony competition for British composers. During the season of 1878–9 he was conductor of Mme Jenny Viard-Louis’ orchestral concerts, at which works by Bizet, Massenet and Goetz were introduced. In 1880...

Article

Charles Barber

(b Vienna, Nov 30, 1939; d Vienna, June 14, 2015). Austrian conductor and violinist. After early violin studies with Ernst Moravec and Franz Samohyl at the Vienna Music Academy, Weller began to conduct as assistant to Böhm and Horst Stein, and was then coached by Szell and Krips. He joined the Vienna PO in 1956 and from 1961 to 1969 was the orchestra's leader. He also played in the Vienna Konzerthaus and Weller quartets (1958–71), toured widely and taught at the Vienna Music Academy from 1964 to 1966. Weller made his conducting début with the Vienna PO in 1966, and first appeared in 1969 with the Vienna Volksoper. In 1971 he was appointed Generalmusikdirektor in Duisburg, and from 1975 to 1978 was music director of the Tonkünstlerorchester of Vienna. He served as principal conductor of the Royal Liverpool PO from 1977 to 1980, the Royal Philharmonic from ...

Article

Clarrie Henley

revised by Barry Kernfeld

(b Edinburgh, July 9, 1929; d London, June 25, 1982). Scottish trumpeter, singer, and bandleader. He first played cornet, and worked with Archie Semple (1951) and Sandy Brown (1953). After moving to London in 1954 he formed his own group, which within a year had played several times at the Royal Festival Hall, made its first broadcasts and recordings, and established a reputation for its dedication to the dixieland style and the excellence of its playing. From 1955 it made several tours overseas, and in 1968 it played to great acclaim at the Newport Jazz Festival. The band accompanied many American soloists, including Bud Freeman, Wild Bill Davison, Earl Hines, and Ruby Braff. In 1957 Welsh was invited to join Jack Teagarden, but did not accept. Fred Hunt and Lennie Hastings were among his longstanding sidemen; although his ensemble was noted for its few personnel changes, by ...