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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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

(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....

Article

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 ...

Article

(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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...