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Article

J.B. Steane

(b Helsinki, April 23, 1876; d Nummela, Aug 8, 1944). Finnish soprano. She studied first with her mother, a principal soprano of the Helsinki Opera, and made her début there in 1893. After further study at the Paris Conservatoire, she appeared at the Opéra, on 8 October 1897, as Gounod’s Marguerite. Her success there and in other European cities led to her engagement at the Metropolitan Opera, where in 1904 and 1905 her roles included Marguerite and Juliet in Gounod’s operas, and Wagner’s Eva, Elsa and Elisabeth. In 1907 she sang with Van Dyck’s company in the German season at Covent Garden, and in the same year at Leipzig gave her first performance as Richard Strauss’s Salome, the role for which she became most famous. She sang it also in the British première in 1910 under Beecham and was commended especially for performing the Dance of the Seven Veils herself. The later part of her career was spent largely in Finland, where in ...

Article

[Amateur Chamber Music Players]

Association founded as the Amateur Chamber Music Players in 1947 by Leonard A. Strauss of Indianapolis as an information center for those who play chamber music at home. Its directory, established in 1949, facilitates the meeting of ensemble participants, who rate their performing proficiency by responding to a detailed questionnaire. Singers and piano-duet players were included in ...

Article

Andrea F. Bohlman

(b San Francisco, CA, April 13, 1945). American dance critic. She studied at the University of California, Berkeley (BA 1966), and wrote on the Ballets Russes for her doctorate in comparative literature at Rutgers University (1984). With an enthusiasm for dance that has anchored her prolific career, Acocella was the senior critic and reviews editor for Dance Magazine and became the dance critic for the New Yorker in 1998. She has written about dance for many other publications including the Financial Times, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Book Review, Art in America, and the Times Literary Supplement. In her books Acocella demonstrates a sustained interest in connecting the public with artistic personae and their voices, as illustrated in her biography of Mark Morris (1993), the essay collection Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints (2007), and three edited volumes of artists’ writings (...

Article

Tiberiu Alexandru

Piano accordion of Romania. Early forms were known in rural communities in the 1880s under the name armoniu, etc. It became widespread in the period between the two World Wars, replacing the button-keyed Armonicǎ and encouraging the demise of certain other traditional instruments among the lǎutari (professional folk musicians), particularly the small ...

Article

Acourt  

David Fallows

( fl c 1420). Composer . His three-voice rondeau Je demande ma bienvenue survives only in the manuscript GB-Ob Can.misc.213 (facs., Chicago, 1995; ed. in CMM, xi/2, 1959). Its extreme simplicity and economy of gesture suggest that the composer is not identifiable with Johannes Haucourt , composer of an apparently much earlier virelai in the same manuscript....

Article

Laurence Libin

A term used for an instrument that does not incorporate pickups or microphones for the purpose of electronic amplification or manipulation. It is normally used only when it is necessary to distinguish between such an instrument and one of the same or a similar type that does incorporate pickups or microphones: for example ‘acoustic bass’ as opposed to ‘electric bass’ and ‘acoustic guitar’ as opposed to ‘electric guitar’. In most cases, therefore, an instrument is assumed to be acoustic unless its name explicitly states that it is electric or electronic....

Article

Bruce Carr

[acoustical].

A term, meaning ‘not electric’, used in this special sense to designate a recording cut with a stylus activated directly (through a diaphragm) by sound waves rather than by electronic impulses, or, as in ‘acoustic guitar’, an instrument not amplified electronically. It was first applied to recordings in the early 1930s (electric recordings were first made in ...

Article

Alyn Shipton and Barry Kernfeld

An oversized four-string guitar tuned like the electric bass guitar. It has been used in an amplified variant by Dave Holland, unamplified by Alec Dankworth and Terry Gregory in Martin Taylor’s string band Spirit of Django, and both amplified and unamplified by its principal exponent, Jonas Hellborg. An earlier acoustic bass guitar, called the bassoguitar, was briefly marketed in jazz circles in the late 1930s in a failed attempt, many years before the appearance of the electric bass guitar, to provide bass players with an instrument that was somewhat more portable than the double bass; a photograph of Israel Crosby playing the instrument at a jam session was published in ...

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Article

Ronald Lewcock, Rijn Pirn, Jürgen Meyer, Carleen M. Hutchins, J. Woodhouse, John C. Schelleng, Bernard Richardson, Daniel W. Martin, Arthur H. Benade, Murray Campbell, Thomas D. Rossing and Johan Sundberg

A term that can embrace all aspects of the science of sound and hearing, but is here treated in two specific senses, that of room acoustics, considered only with reference to the performance of music, and that of sound-source acoustics, limited to various classes of musical instruments and the voice. For other acoustical matters see Hearing and psychoacoustics and Sound; for the history of the subject see Physics of music.

Ronald Lewcock and Rijn Pirn, assisted by Jürgen Meyer

A room that has good acoustics is one in which it is possible to hear each sound clearly in all parts of the room; or, in other words, a room in which the sound is adequately loud and evenly distributed. In addition, it is normally required that the quality of sound being listened to in the room should match the type of sound being produced by the source. Room acoustics are relied on in some cases to sustain the sound in the room after the original source has stopped producing it, thus masking unevennesses in the ensemble, while in other cases sound too much sustained would mask the clarity of individual instruments or small groups. Acoustical problems are further complicated if opera is to be performed, for here every syllable is expected to be clearly heard and understood, and therefore only moderate sustained sound is desirable, yet the large ensemble demands sustained sound. Although scientific study permits a certain degree of accuracy in acoustical design, great difficulty is still experienced in determining the correct specification of the acoustics that ought to be provided....

Article

(b Atri, 1458; d Conversano, Jan 19, 1529). Italian humanist, patron and theorist. He was a member of the Accademia Pontaniana in Naples and initiated a long-standing tradition of musical culture in the family of the dukes of Atri, who were important patrons; his son Giovanni Antonio Donato was also a lira player. Acquaviva d’Aragona financed the Neapolitan printer Antonio de Frizis and housed the press in his palace in Naples. One of the earliest examples of music printing in the kingdom of Naples was the Motetti libro primo printed by De Frizis in 1519 (it is no longer extant, but a copy was owned by Fernando Colón). In 1526 De Frizis printed Acquaviva d’Aragona’s Latin translation of Plutarch’s De virtute morali, which was followed by an extensive Latin commentary including a 76-page treatise De musica (the whole was reprinted in Frankfurt in 1609). Notable for its wealth of illustrations and for its incorporation into a broader context addressed to humanists in general rather than to a specialized musical readership, the treatise is largely based on the writings of Boethius and Gaffurius, and takes as its point of departure Plutarch’s observations on music’s power of suggestion. The ...

Article

Val Wilmer

[Emanuel Nii-Moi ]

(b Jamestown, Accra, Gold Coast [now Ghana], June 7, 1931; d London, Sept 15, 1993). Ghanaian conga and bongo player. He was educated at the Royal School in Accra and began playing drums as a child. Following a brief spell in the army he traveled to Britain in 1947, settled in Yorkshire, undertook factory work, and purchased his first pair of bongos. He then moved to London and entered the entertainment business as a fire-eater, dancer, and drummer. Thereafter he became a firm fixture in modern-jazz groups, playing with Ronnie Scott, Phil Seamen, Sammy Walker, and the trombonist Ken Wray, and following other African percussionists into Kenny Graham’s Afro-Cubists. In 1955 he joined Cab Kaye. Having changed permanently from bongos to conga drums, he played with Shake Keane and Tubby Hayes. For more than six years his propulsive beat was a key element in the success of the singer and organist Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames. Acquaye worked with the Nightimers, led by the American soul singer Herbie Goines, and the jazz-tinged rock bands of Graham Bond and Ginger Baker, as well as with the Animals and the Rolling Stones. The first African to have a visible presence in postwar British popular music, he rejoined Fame intermittently but devoted his time increasingly to community teaching. The percussion workshops Adzido and Dade Krama enabled him to return to the pure drumming and chants of his youth....

Article

Act  

Michael Tilmouth

(Fr. acte; Ger. Aufzug; It. atto).

One of the main divisions of a drama, opera or ballet, usually completing a definite part of the action and often having a climax of its own. Although ancient Greek drama was not divided thus except by the periodic intervention of the chorus, and the division into acts of the plays of Roman authors such as Plautus is the work of later hands, Horace (Epistle to the Pisos) recommended five acts as the proper manner of dividing a play. In attempting to recreate the ancient drama this structure was adopted in early operas and was usually preserved in serious French opera of the 17th and 18th centuries even when the three-act form had become established in other types of opera. Rousseau (Dictionnaire de musique, 1768) insisted that the unities of time and place should be observed in each act even in the ‘genre merveilleux’. But there were already many exceptions (e.g. Rameau’s ...

Article

ACT  

Gary W. Kennedy

Record label. Its parent company, ACT Music + Vision, was established in 1988 by Siegfried Loch, a former executive at WEA (the European division of Warner Brothers), and Annette Humpe, with the label ACT specializing in pop music. It failed shortly after its inception but was resurrected by Loch around 1992 as a label focusing on jazz. By early 2000 it had issued more than 80 recordings. Initially these were drawn from sessions which Loch had recorded for Liberty, Philips, and WEA, including both reissued material and previously unreleased material by the same artists. Loch then went on to make new recordings by such younger musicians as Nils Landgren and Nguyên Lê. The ACT catalogue also contains previously unreleased blues recordings from European festivals produced by Loch (notably the American Folk Blues festivals in Germany, 1963–5) and recordings of flamenco music.

B. Milkowski: “Label Watch: Loch and Lode: Act Records,” ...

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Act 2 scene i of the original production of Berg’s ‘Lulu’, Zürich, 1937; Lulu (Nuri Hadžić) prepares to leave after shooting Dr Schön (Asger Stig), watched by Geschwitz (Maria Bernhard) and the Schoolboy

Douglas Jarman

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Act 2 scene ii (one of the city gates of Thebes) of Verdi’s ‘Aida’ showing the first production (in French translation) at the Paris Opéra (Salle Garnier), 22 March 1880: engraving

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Act 2 scene x of Sarti’s ‘Giulio Sabino’: engraving from the printed full score (Vienna, c1781)

Raccolta delle Stampe Achille Bertarelli, Milan

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Act 3 scene i of Sigmund Theophil Staden’s ‘Seelewig’: woodcut from G.P. Harsdörffer’s ‘Frawenzimmer Gesprächspiele’, iv (Nuremberg, 1644)

Stadtbibliothek Nürnberg

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Act I of Four Saints in Three Actsby Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein.

Lebrecht Music & Arts

Article

Jack Westrup

Music specially written for the celebration of the Act at the University of Oxford in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The Act, held originally in July, was a traditional function at which candidates for degrees gave public evidence of their fitness. In 1669 it was held for the first time in the newly opened Sheldonian Theatre (having previously been held at the university church of St Mary) and was incorporated in the ceremony of the Encaenia (the dedication of the building). Composers who contributed music for the Act, which flourished particularly in the period 1699–1710, included Locke and Blow. The Act ceased to be held after 1733, but the Encaenia continued as a ceremony for the commemoration of founders and benfactors and for the conferment of honorary degrees. The 1733 Act was celebrated with music composed and performed by Handel, and in 1791 Haydn's Symphony no.92 (the ‘Oxford’) was performed at the Sheldonian Theatre when he was awarded the honorary DMus. The only music performed now is an organ recital before the ceremony....