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Alyn Shipton

(b Leeds, Nov 11, 1913; d Clacton, May 6, 1993). English dance bandleader, saxophonist, pianist and singer. She was a child prodigy as a pianist, broadcasting on ‘Children’s Hour’ in 1922, and playing frequently in public. She took up the clarinet and saxophone in her teens, and in 1929 joined her first all-female band, led by Edna Croudson. After some years with Croudson, she came to London and in 1937 played in female orchestras directed by Teddy Joyce, becoming leader of his Girl Friends. In 1940, after leading small groups of her own, she formed a nine-piece band for the revue Meet the Girls, which had an entirely female cast. For the rest of her career Benson led an all-female band, variously called her Rhythm Girl Band, her Ladies’ Dance Orchestra and her Showband. She broadcast frequently during World War II and afterwards, and toured internationally for the Entertainments National Servicemen’s Association from the 1940s onwards. In the 1940s she mainly played in a jazz-influenced swing style, but later often added a string section to play dance music in the manner of Victor Sylvester or Mantovani....

Article

Karen Monson

[Rosenbaum, Borge]

(b Copenhagen, Jan 3, 1909; d Greenwich, CT, Dec 23, 2000). American pianist, musical humorist and conductor of Danish birth. After early training with his father, he gave a piano recital at the age of eight in Copenhagen, which won for him a scholarship to the conservatory; he later studied with Frederic Lamond and Egon Petri in Berlin. He performed in amateur musical revues in Copenhagen, but his satires of Hitler placed him in danger and he fled, first to Sweden and then to the USA, where he later became a citizen. In New York in 1940 he began regularly to appear on Bing Crosby’s ‘Kraft Music Hall’ radio series, which led to a radio show of his own. Starting in the autumn of 1953 he gave nearly 850 daily recitals under the title ‘Comedy in Music’ at the Golden Theater on Broadway. He toured in many parts of the world and appeared widely on radio and television and in films. His routines (which were partly improvised) were a mixture of verbal and musical humour, delivered at the piano; though his comic reputation was based on his continually forestalling and interrupting his own playing, he was an accomplished performer, as his elaborate musical jokes (such as the composite piano concerto consisting of well-known passages from the repertory skilfully run together) demonstrated....

Article

Ray Pallett

(b Laurenço Marques [now Maputo], Jan 7, 1899; d London, April 17, 1941). British popular singer. His father was Greek, his mother was Lebanese. Bowlly was brought up in South Africa and joined Edgar Adeler’s leading dance band in 1922, touring South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, East Africa and the Far East. He left Adeler in 1924 and took up a residency at Raffles Hotel, Singapore. In 1927 he went to Germany and made his first recording, Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies. A prestigious engagement lasting one year followed at the Savoy Hotel, London, with the bandleader Fred Elizalde. He had a major break in 1930 when he joined a recording studio band led by Ray Noble, with whom he made the original versions of songs which have become standards. These, all by Noble, included The Very Thought of You, Love is the Sweetest Thing, The Touch of your Lips...

Article

Gerald Bordman

[Fannie; Borach, Fannie]

(b New York, Oct 29, 1891; Hollywood, CA, May 29, 1951). American actress and singer. She began singing in her parents’ saloon, then worked on the burlesque circuit playing comic roles, where she came to the attention of Ziegfeld. He gave her a part in his Follies of 1910, in which her performance of Berlin’s ‘Good-bye Becky Cohen’ and Joe Jordan’s ‘Lovie Joe’ stopped the show. She appeared in eight more editions of the Follies as well as numerous other Broadway musicals. She was known particularly for her performance of comic songs with a Yiddish accent, for example ‘I’m an Indian’ from the Follies of 1920, and ‘Old Wicked Willage of Wenice’ in Fioretta (1929; libretto by Earl Carroll, music by George Bagby and G. Romilli). She was also a superb torch-singer, and became associated with such ballads as James F. Hanley’s Rose of Washington Square and Maurice Yvain’s ...

Article

Jon Alan Conrad

(b Flint, MI, March 30, 1933; d New Haven, CT, May 11, 2017). American orchestrator, conductor, and composer. He studied music at Michigan State University and then at the New England Conservatory, which included conducting with Neel and Stokowski, and the double bass. The latter led to performing engagements with numerous orchestras; from 1961 to 1967 he also conducted, particularly ballet orchestras. At this time he began conducting tours and concerts of musicals, and in the 1970s his orchestrations for musicals were first heard. These included orchestrations reconciling a variety of sources with the requirements for modern revivals or compilations (as with Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Carousel, Show Boat, and his contributions to the restoration of the Gershwins’ Strike Up the Band). He composed incidental music, arranged for television and film, provided arrangements for recording (for Mandy Patinkin, Plácido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade), and wrote songs and musicals, as well as concert and dance works. Additionally he provided re-creations of Prokofiev’s film music (...

Article

Paul Webb

[Gough, June Mary]

(b Broken Hill, Feb 26, 1929; d Sydney, Jan 25, 2005). Australian soprano. She won a singing competition in Australia and in 1952 moved to England to further her career, first studying with Dino Borgioli, then joining the Sadler’s Wells Opera company in 1954. She worked with the company through the early 1960s, singing roles that included Norina, the Queen of Night, Papagena, Leïla and Gilda. In 1960 she appeared at Covent Garden in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor. She is, however, best known as Hannah Glawari in Die lustige Witwe, and called her autobiography The Merry Bronhill (London, 1987); her voice can be heard in its prime on recordings of this role, in The King and I and Lilac Time, and especially as Sombra in The Arcadians.

She created the major role of Elizabeth Moulton-Barrett in Ronald Millar and Ron Grainer’s Robert and Elizabeth...

Article

Gerard Béhague

(Francisco)

(b Rio de Janeiro, June 19, 1944). Brazilian composer and singer-songwriter. The son of a prominent historian and intellectual, he began studying architecture at the University of São Paulo in 1963 but decided soon after to pursue a career in popular music. Although he was a great admirer of the bossa nova musician João Gilberto, his first hits, Pedro Pedreiro and Sonho de um Carnaval (both recorded in 1965), as well as Olê Olá, revealed innovative talents. The first piece is an early expression of his concern for and subsequent criticism of some of Brazil's urban social problems. The well-known poet-diplomat Vinicius de Morais, a family friend and fundamental figure of the bossa nova movement, exerted a strong influence on Buarque's music and poetry. Indeed the ‘master of the language’, as Jobim characterized him, went on to produce some of the most sophisticated popular songs of his generation, both poetically and musically. In ...

Article

Robert Howie

(Walter John)

(b Helensburgh, April 2, 1890; d London, Oct 20, 1957). Scottish actor, producer and director. After a disastrous début as a comic in music hall in Glasgow, he danced in West End musicals until he understudied, then replaced, Jack Hulbert in Tonight’s the Night (1915–17), in which he sang Kern’s ‘They didn’t believe me’. He established himself as a leading man, particularly in the revues of André Charlot, then starred with Gertrude Lawrence in A to Z (1921), introducing Ivor Novello’s ‘And her mother came too’. He also scored success in New York in two editions of Charlot’s London Revue (1924 and 1925). An ambitious and astute businessman, he produced Battling Butler (1922) as a vehicle for himself, and in 1926 brought Kern’s Sunny to the London Hippodrome, which became the home to a series of Buchanan productions. With Elsie Randolph he appeared in ...

Article

Gerald Bordman

(b Brooklyn, NY, Feb 7, 1870; d New York, Aug 23, 1933). American actress and singer. She made her début in 1888 and appeared in small roles in several Broadway plays before spending some time performing in Paris and London. She returned to the USA in 1895 to accept a small part in the musical Excelsior, Jr., then assumed the title role in the show’s national tour. She subsequently appeared in such musicals as Victor Herbert’s The Gold Bug (1896), in which she stopped the show with ‘When I First Began to Marry, Years Ago’, and The Wild Rose (1902), in which she introduced ‘Nancy Brown’; she achieved stardom in Sally in our Alley (1902) with her most famous song, ‘Under the bamboo tree’. Cahill continued to play leading roles in Nancy Brown (1903), It Happened in Nordland (1904...

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

[Leonard]

(b Winnipeg, MB, Sept 30, 1939). Canadian actor and singer. An accomplished actor on stage, film and television, Cariou’s Broadway credits include Bill Sampson in Applause (1970), Frederik in A Little Night Music (1973), and the title character in Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979). He reprised the role of Frederik in the 1977 film version of A Little Night Music; other film credits include The Four Seasons (1981). He has appeared in numerous television movies and has made guest appearances in various television shows, including the recurring role of Michael Hagarty in Murder, She Wrote, the series which featured his co-star from Sweeney Todd, Angela Lansbury. He possesses a wide range, excellent diction and a dramatic masculine sound, and his voice works effectively in both solo and ensemble settings. His true strength is as a character actor, and his voice quality enhances the theatrical effect of the wide variety of roles which he portrays....