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(b London, 1908; d Eastbourne, July 16, 1990). English arranger, composer, conductor and theatre organist. His early career involved playing for silent films and he soon graduated to the organ, becoming one of Britain's leading theatre organists during the 1930s. He became involved with light orchestral music during his wartime service in the RAF as conductor of the RAF Concert Orchestra. After the war he contributed numerous original works to publishers' mood music libraries, and worked extensively in radio on programmes such as ‘Much Binding in the Marsh’. In 1953 he devised the successful formula for BBC Radio's ‘Friday Night is Music Night’, in which he conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra regularly until his retirement in 1972. Torch presented numerous celebrity concerts particularly, for many years, the BBC's prestigious Light Music Festivals. His London Transport Suite was specially commissioned for the 1957 festival. During the 1940s and 50s he recorded many important works in the light music repertory for EMI's Parlophone and Columbia labels, including many of his own cameos, the most famous being his ...

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Simon Collier

[Pichuco; El Gordo]

(b Buenos Aires, July 11, 1914; d Buenos Aires, May 18, 1975). Argentine tango bandoneon player, bandleader and composer. Largely self-taught, he played full-time in tango bands from the age of 13, working in those of Juan Maglio, the Vardaro-Pugliese Sextet, Julio De Caro and Alfredo Gobbi among others. His own band made its début at the Marabú cabaret in Buenos Aires in July 1937. With Troilo’s bandoneon and the piano skills of Orlando Goñi, it was soon recognized as the leading band of its time; the first of its nearly 500 recordings date from 1938. Supremely popular in Buenos Aires, Troilo made relatively few trips abroad, which were always short. His best tango songs were written with the lyricist Homero Manzi, and include Barrio de tango and Sur, the prime tango classics of the 1940s. In 1953 he wrote music for a long-running musical comedy, El patio de la morocha...

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Jon Alan Conrad

(b New York, April 19, 1938). American orchestrator, conductor and composer. His education included degrees from Bard College (1958) and the Juilliard School of Music (1960), and compositional study with Nordoff, Giannini and Bernstein. Work in New York as an instrumentalist, conductor and arranger led to the first commercially successful musical with which Tunick was associated, Promises, Promises (1968). Company, two years later, cemented his position at the forefront of theatre orchestrators and led to a long-lasting association with the work of Stephen Sondheim. His pre-eminence in this area has caused notable theatre composers to seek his services, inluding David Shire, Charles Strouse and Maury Yeston, and has fittingly led to his receiving the first Tony award given for orchestration, for Titanic (1997). His film work includes scores for Fort Apache, the Bronx (1981), Endless Love (1981...

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Deane L. Root

[Hubert Prior]

(b Island Pond, VT, July 28, 1901; d North Hollywood, CA, July 3, 1986). American bandleader, singer, saxophonist, actor and publisher. From 1918 he learnt the saxophone and played in a theatre orchestra in Portland, Maine, then attended the University of Maine (1921) and Yale University (to 1927). In 1928 he formed his own band, the Connecticut Yankees; he made his début as a singer in George White’s Scandals (1931), and appeared in Broadway musicals, television and over 20 films, mostly as a musician or comic actor. During the 1930s and 1940s, with his salutation ‘Heigh-ho, everybody!’, he was one of the most successful American bandleaders and singers, among the first crooners to inspire mass hysteria in his audience. With his thin, nasal voice and using a megaphone – later a microphone – he popularized the Maine Stein Song, the Yale Whiffenpoof Song, his own ...

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Andrew Lamb

[padre]

(b Badajoz, Feb 27, 1846; d Madrid, March 17, 1910). Spanish composer and conductor. He began his musical studies in his native city, and as a boy he played the piccolo in a military band. He later studied at the Madrid Conservatory, where he won first prize for flute in 1867 and composition in 1870. In 1871 his Sinfonía Batilo was awarded a prize by the Sociedad Fomento de las Artes. He composed flute studies and in 1882, during an unsuccessful attempt to become a flute teacher at the Madrid Conservatory, wrote a pamphlet La flauta: su historia, su estudio (Madrid, 1886), which was later adopted by the conservatory as a text. In all he composed over 200 instrumental works, but his prime preoccupation was with the theatre. He was a theatre conductor throughout the 1870s and 80s and composed many zarzuelas, often in collaboration. Of these the best-known are those with Chueca, including ...

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Deane L. Root

[James; Babcock, Edward Chester]

(b Syracuse, NY, Jan 26, 1913; d Rancho Mirage, CA, Feb 7, 1990). American composer, publisher and pianist. At the age of 16 he became a pianist, singer and announcer for a radio station and adopted his professional name. He then studied singing with Howard Lyman and wrote college shows at Syracuse University. In 1933 he replaced Harold Arlen as composer at the Cotton Club in Harlem, and worked as a pianist and song plugger for Tin Pan Alley publishers, including Remick and Santley Brothers. He had his first songwriting success in 1938 with It’s the dreamer in me (in collaboration with Jimmy Dorsey) and wrote for the bandleader Eddie DeLange before teaming up with the lyricist Johnny Burke in 1939. Together Burke and Van Heusen wrote the songs for 16 of Bing Crosby’s best-known films, including Road to Morocco (1942) and others of the ‘Road to …’ series, and ...

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Andrew Lamb

(b New Orleans, May 30, 1844; d Paris, Aug 20, 1908). French composer and conductor. He was one of two sons of the theatre conductor and composer Pierre Varney (1811–79), from whom he received his musical training. His early career was spent as conductor at the Théâtre de l'Athénée in Paris, for which he composed the one-act operetta Il signor Pulcinella (1876) and music for revues. After his father's death he became known as a prolific composer of opérettes, beginning with Les mousquetaires au couvent (1880). For two decades he produced about two opérettes a year, some of which were also produced abroad, and composed ballets for the major Paris music halls. In the last years of his life, however, he composed little due to a disease which obliged him to move to Bagnères-de-Bigorre in the Pyrenees; he was taken back to Paris the day before he died. Varney's music displays a lightness and gaiety which owe much to Offenbach, but only ...

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Andrew Lamb

(Félix Augustin Joseph)

(b Bapaume, May 28, 1844; d Pas-de-Calais, May 25, 1917). French composer, organist and conductor. After studying music with his father, an organist at Bapaume, he moved to Paris at the age of 12 to study at the Ecole Niedermeyer. In 1867 he published his Méthode d'orgue expressif ou harmonium (Paris), and in 1870 he became organist at St Symphonien, Versailles. While continuing with religious compositions, he turned to operetta, and in 1872 his La timbale d'argent ran for over 200 nights at the Bouffes-Parisiens, saving the theatre from bankruptcy and setting Vasseur on a career of composing light music. However, none of his later operettas, many of them comic treatments of historical subjects, had equal success. In 1879 he reopened the former Théâtre Taitbout as the Nouveau Théâtre-Lyrique, but his attempt at theatre management soon proved a disaster. In 1890 he became conductor at the Folies-Bergère, but in ...

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Walter Aaron Clark

(b Barcelona, Aug 10, 1836; d Barcelona, Oct 21, 1905). Spanish pianist, conductor and composer of Catalan descent. He studied with the organist and composer Vilanova at Barcelona, then continued his education in Paris with Herz (piano), and Bazin and Halévy (composition). After returning to Barcelona he gave concerts and wrote a history of music, Apuntes de historia musical, o Resumen de historia de la música (Barcelona, 1863). He was a pioneer in composing Catalan zarzuelas, and his first such work to be staged, L'ultim rey de Magnolia, to a libretto by Frederic Soler (pseud. Serafí Pitarra), was performed in Barcelona in December 1868. It was followed in June 1869 by another Catalan zarzuela to a libretto by Soler, Els pescadors de San Pol. Both were well received. He continued to compose for the stage and served as assistant conductor at a secondary theatre in Barcelona. He later became chorus master and finally conductor at the Teatro Principal. Eventually he confined himself to teaching and composition. Despite their settings, dialogue and costumes, his Catalan zarzuelas evince the influence of Italian opera so pervasive in Spain during that epoch. He was a gifted orchestrator and made effective use of colour to project dramatic situations....

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(b Strasbourg, Dec 9, 1837; d Paris, Feb 12, 1915). French composer, pianist and conductor. His father Louis (1801–84) and brother Léon (1832–84) were violinists and dance composers, and his Bavarian mother was a pianist. In 1842 the family moved to Paris, where his father's dance orchestra gained prominence in Society circles. Emile studied the piano with his mother and Joseph Heyberger, and in December 1853 he was formally admitted to the Conservatoire in Adolphe Laurent's piano class, where his fellow students included Massenet. For a time he earned a living testing pianos for the manufacturer Scholtus, besides giving piano lessons and playing at soirées. He was appointed court pianist to Napoléon III in 1865 and conductor of the state balls the following year, directing the music in the Tuileries, at Biarritz and at Compiègne. He took part in the war of 1870–71 as a volunteer and in ...

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Deane L. Root

[Guaragna, Salvatore]

(b Brooklyn, NY, Dec 24, 1893; d Los Angeles, Sept 22, 1981). American popular songwriter. He taught himself the accordion, drums, piano and other instruments, and learned the rudiments of music while singing in a church choir. He first worked in 1909 as a drummer in his godfather’s carnival band, then as a member of a vocal quartet at Vitagraph Studios and a pianist in cinemas and saloons in New York. He rose to become the assistant director of Vitagraph before becoming a pianist and song plugger for Stark and Cowan in 1920. In 1924 he joined Shapiro, Bernstein & Co. and began to find success with his own songs, beginning with I love my baby, my baby loves me (1926).

Warren favoured writing for revues on Broadway, including several co-authored or produced by Billy Rose. But after the Hollywood film studio Warner Bros. bought the Remick Music Corporation, which Warren had joined as a staff composer in ...

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Paul Webb

(b Reading, Jan 30, 1926). English soprano . The leading ingénue of British musicals in the 1950s, she received her first break as an understudy, taking over the lead in Vivian Ellis and A.P. Herbert’s Big Ben in 1946, but is best remembered as Lucy Veracity Willow in Ellis and Herbert’s next show, Bless the Bride (1947). Her two biggest numbers in this were ‘This is my lovely day’ and ‘I was never kissed before’, which demonstrated the powerful soprano voice and graceful stage presence which she had the misfortune to bring to the West End just as the trend towards more energetic American musical theatre imports was taking over. After playing the juvenile lead in Novello’s Gay’s the Word (1951) she appeared as Sarah Brown in the first London production of Loesser’s Guys and Dolls (1953), and in 1959 appeared as Giulietta in the television version of Hans May and Eric Maschwitz’s ...

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Paul Webb

(b New York, Feb 27, 1904; d London, July 15, 2003). American singer and actress . Although she found greater personal and artistic freedom in Paris and London than in her native United States, she was relentlessly stereotyped as a black singer. The titles of her shows Black Birds of 1928 (Paris and New York) and Dark Doings (London, 1933) typified the restrictions of the time. Encouraged by Paul Robeson (with whom she appeared in the films Songs of Freedom and Big Fella) to stand up for her race, she somewhat acerbically pointed out that her father was part Native American and part Negro while her mother was a Scot with an Irish background, so the issue was not a simple one. Cole Porter recognized her abilities and gave her a major success with the sultry song ‘Solomon’ in Nymph Errant (London, 1933), and Ivor Novello included her in ...

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Deane L. Root

(b Joplin, MO, Jan 23, 1887; d New York, March 17, 1952). American songwriter, singer and pianist. He was influenced by the black ragtime pianists in his hometown of Joplin and began composing while in his teens, publishing several early rags including Noodles (1906) and The Smiler (1907). He earned the nickname ‘The Joplin Kid’ from his birthplace. He then studied the piano at the Chicago Musical College, and subsequently became a song plugger and saloon pianist in Chicago and Milwaukee. After moving to New York he performed in vaudeville with his wife, Dolly Connolly, for about 15 years. Through promoting his own songs on the stage and visiting retail agents on his tours around the country, Wenrich earned a reputation as the ideal Tin Pan Alley songwriter. He wrote four shows for New York between 1914 and 1930, but is best known for his pre-war popular songs, such as ...

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(b Dublin, June 5, 1944). Irish tenor. From a musical family, he toured the USA in a folk-rock band at the age of 16, and in 1978 represented Ireland in the Eurovision song contest with his own Born to Sing. After taking the role of Judas in Rice and Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar in London (1972) he recorded the role of Che Guevara on that team’s concept album recording of the rock musical Evita (1976). In this role he was able to exploit his exceptionally wide vocal range and high tessitura coupled to strong diction and and a wide range of tonal colorations to suit styles from soft melodic to heavy rock. In 1985 he created the leading role of Jean Valjean in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Bloubil and Schonberg’s Les misérables. Through his hauntingly emotional rendition of ‘Bring him home’, drawing upon floated high notes coloured with intense vibrato, he influenced the sound of subsequent leading male singers in the West End....

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David Ades

[Isaac Cozerbreit]

(b London, May 8, 1893; d Worthing, Sept 7, 1978). English arranger, composer and conductor. In an early career as a violinist he performed with Beecham and Elgar and, like many of his contemporaries, also played for silent films. Williams contributed many scores for films before World War II, often uncredited on-screen, working alongside Mathieson and Nicholas Brodszky, and assisting on the first British sound-film, Alfred Hitchock's Blackmail. He finally achieved fame in 1947 when he wrote The Dream of Olwen for the film While I Live. While owing its success partly to its similarity to Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto, Williams's own mini-concerto became highly popular worldwide. A similar piece, Jealous Lover, reached the top of the US bestsellers when rediscovered in 1960 for the film The Apartment. He scored for over 20 feature films, and was the musical director for at least six more.

From 1941 Williams wrote and conducted numerous works for Chappell's Recorded Music Library, using the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra. This was the source of much of the music heard in wartime newsreels, and it also included ...

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(b Mason City, IA, May 18, 1902; d Santa Monica, CA, June 15, 1984). American composer, conductor, flautist and lyricist. Between 1921 and 1923, while still a student at the Institute of Musical Art (later the Juilliard School), he was engaged as principal flautist by Sousa. He then became a member of the New York PO (1924–9), while continuing to study privately with Hadley and Barrère. He worked in radio and television (1929–56), first as the musical director of the Northwest Territory for ABC, and eventually as the musical director, conductor and composer for the western division of NBC. Two of his songs achieved wide radio popularity: You and I (1941), the signature tune for the Maxwell House Coffee programme, and May the Good Lord bless and keep you (1950), the theme song for Tallulah Bankhead’s ‘The Big Show’. Willson composed the scores for such films as ...

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Katherine K. Preston

(b Wilkes-Barre, PA, Aug 15, 1910; d Greenwich, CT, Sept 17, 1973). American arranger, conductor and composer. He started playing the violin at the age of six, later studied reed instruments, and was playing professionally by the time he was in high school. He taught music and led the school orchestra while a student at St Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and graduated from the New England Conservatory. After teaching music in high school he began to play the saxophone in club bands in New York; during the 1930s and 40s he played with various dance orchestras, including those of Larry Clinton, Raymond Scott, the Dorsey brothers, Count Basie, Vaughn Monroe and Benny Goodman. Winterhalter turned to arranging in 1944, and eventually arranged music for many of these bands, and also for such singers as Billy Eckstine, Kate Smith, Dinah Shore, Eddie Fisher, Kay Starr, Perry Como, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, the Ames Brothers and Mario Lanza. In ...

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Philip L. Scowcroft

(Henry)

(b Heckmondwike, Jan 24, 1875; d London, Jan 18, 1953). English composer, conductor and flautist. He gained early experience playing the flute in orchestras in Harrogate, then at Bournemouth under Dan Godfrey. He subsequently conducted at various London theatres (among them the Adelphi, Terry's, Daly's and Drury Lane), for over 30 years. He toured the USA with Messager's Véronique and recorded excerpts from the Savoy operas. He also composed musicals of his own, but these have survived less well than the splendidly scored orchestral works produced for Boosey & Hawkes, both original pieces and arrangements, for whom he was a staff composer.

His compositions include suites and separate movements, many betraying his northern origins and evoking the outdoors, also a concertino for his one-time instrument, the flute. His most durable piece is ‘Barwick Green’ from the suite My Native Heath, inspired by his home county of Yorkshire and used as the signature tune to the long-running BBC radio programme ‘The Archers’. This apart, only ...

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David Ades

(b London, Dec 4, 1902; d England, Feb 2, 1966). English arranger, composer and conductor. Like many of his contemporaries who later achieved recognition for their work in light music, Yorke began his pre-war career with Britain's leading dance bands, notably Percival Mackey, Jack Hylton and Louis Levy. In particular his distinctive scores of popular film songs in the pseudo-symphonic style required by Levy for recordings and broadcasts became a trademark that would distinguish Yorke for the remainder of his career. After the war light orchestras were a main element of BBC radio, and he became associated with a rich, full orchestral sound, often augmented with a strong saxophone section led by Freddy Gardner (1911–50). Yorke used Gardner in many of his commercial recordings for EMI's Columbia, notably pieces such as I'm in the Mood for Love and These Foolish Things, which have become minor classics of their genre. Yorke contributed many original compositions to the recorded music libraries of leading London publishers (Chappells, Francis Day & Hunter, Paxton etc.) and for ten years from ...