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William A. Everett and Lee Snook

(Elaine)

(b Seattle, Jan 31, 1921). American actress and singer. She made her stage début in 1941 with No for an Answer, created the role of Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), and succeeded Rosalind Russell in the role of Ruth Sherwood in Wonderful Town (1953). It is for the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly! (1964), however, that she is best known, and for which she has won both a Tony Award and the Variety Drama Critics Award. She received a special Tony Award in 1968. In 1973, she returned to Broadway as Lorelei Lee in Lorelei, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award. Her success on stage made her a popular guest on various television game and talk shows, including ‘Password’, ‘To Tell the Truth’, the ‘Merv Griffin Show’, and the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’. In 1994...

Article

Mark Brill

(Auguste)

(b Ménilmontant, Sep 12, 1888; d Paris, Jan 1, 1972). French singer and actor. He left school at 11 to become an electrician and soon thereafter became an acrobat, until an injury forced him to pursue singing and dancing instead. In 1900 he made his début at the Café des Trois Lions as a singer and comedian. His song-and-dance routines made him popular at local cafés and music halls where he was known as ‘Le Petit Chevalier’. Through a three-year contract at the Folies Bergères, where he began a ten-year partnership both on and off stage with the star Mistinguett, he developed the sophisticated and charismatic persona that was to make him popular on stage and in film. He learned English from a fellow POW during WWI, after which he successfully resumed his music-hall career and appeared in silent films and theatrical productions. His trademark straw hat, bow tie and cane complemented the elegant grace and joie de vivre that would come to personify French charm and sophistication. The advent of sound film allowed his charisma and talent to come through, and in ...

Article

Robert Stevenson

(b Philadelphia, Nov 28, 1815; d New York, May 21, 1862). American minstrel-troupe organizer and performer. In 1842 while helping the widow Harriet Harrington to run a tavern at Buffalo, he joined her son George (who adopted the name Christy) and Thomas Vaughn to sing blackface songs. The troupe was augmented with Lansing Durand and others, and toured upstate New York in 1843–5. Acting as manager, interlocutor (centre man on the minstrel semicircle), ballad singer and banjo player, Christy took the six-man troupe to Palmo’s Opera House in New York on 27 April 1846. From 15 February 1847 to 15 July 1854 they played at Mechanics Hall, Broadway, perfecting a minstrel show in three sections that appealed to all levels of audience. On 25 August 1847, at the close of their second Cincinnati visit, Christy’s Minstrels gave Stephen Foster a benefit performance that included Oh! Susanna. From that time the troupe specialized in Foster premières, and in ...

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Robert Stevenson

(b Palmyra, NY, Nov 6, 1827; d New York, May 12, 1868). American minstrel performer. He changed his family name of Harrington after joining (as a jig dancer) the troupe of his stepfather, Edwin Pearce Christy, at Buffalo in 1842. He appeared with Christy’s Minstrels in New York from 1847 to 1853, creating such roles as Lucy Long and Cachuca, and distinguishing himself in every part from endman and bone player to wench. In 1853 he joined Henry Wood at 444 Broadway to form Wood and Christy’s Minstrels. After a fire destroyed their premises in December 1854, the company went on tour; they later returned to New York and re-established themselves on Broadway. Christy formed his own company, George Christy’s Minstrels, in 1858, and played at Tom Maguire’s Opera House in San Francisco. In May 1859 he attempted to resume occupancy of the rebuilt 444 Broadway in New York, but was prevented from doing so by his erstwhile partner Wood. His last appearance was in Brooklyn with Hooley’s Minstrels ten days before his death. Christy published collections of his songs, dialogues and jokes, including ...

Article

Philip L. Scowcroft

(b Sydney, Sept 26, 1866; d London, Nov 17, 1951). British pianist and composer of Australian birth. He came to London in 1889 after touring as a pianist in Asia and Australasia and appeared as an accompanist in England before concentrating on composition. He also wrote music criticism for The Observer from 1908 to 1918 and later was vice chairman of the Performing Right Society. Until about 1914 his compositions were not aimed at a wide commercial audience: orchestral works were performed by major London orchestras and four operas were staged, including King Harlequin which was produced in Berlin. The watershed between his serious and light music was his collaboration with the composer Bath and the lyricist Basil Hood in a patriotic operetta, Young England, produced in Birmingham in 1916, before transferring to Daly's and then Drury Lane in London. This was the first of several musicals both original and using music, though not exclusively so, by others, like the popular ...

Article

Geoffrey Self

(b Hucknall, Aug 27, 1886; d Chichester, Dec 23, 1957). English viola player and composer. He studied violin with Georg Ellenberger and harmony with Ralph Horner, but changed to the viola, for which he found a greater demand in Nottingham. Entering the RAM in 1906, he expected viola to be his main study and was indeed placed with Tertis, but the principal, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, had admired his submitted songs and allocated him to Corder for composition. Coates rapidly came to the forefront of viola players, playing for the Beecham SO and Wood's Queen's Hall Orchestra, of which he was principal viola 1912–19. Chronic neuritis plagued him and in 1919, after Wood dismissed him, he never played again.

His composing reputation had been made early by such songs as Stonecracker John (1909) and by Wood's performance of the Miniature Suite at the 1911 Proms. Thereafter he produced a steady stream of orchestral suites, phantasies, marches and waltzes together with some 160 songs, the last march being completed in ...

Article

Geoffrey Block

[Kaufman, Seymour]

(b New York, June 14, 1929; d New York, Nov 18, 2004). American composer and pianist. The son of Russian immigrants, he began to play the piano at the age of four, and performed recitals at the Steinway and Carnegie halls by seven. He studied counterpoint and orchestration at the New York College of Music and developed a serious interest in jazz, within a few years performing in New York nightclubs with his trio and starting a long recording career as a jazz pianist. A collaboration with the lyricist Joseph Allan McCarthy yielded several song hits between 1952 and 1956, including Why try to change me now?, I'm gonna laugh you right out of my life and Tin Pan Alley, the last of which appeared in Coleman's first Broadway venture, the revue John Murray Anderson's Almanac (1953). By the late 1950s he had produced an impressive list of song standards with lyricist Carolyn Leigh, which included ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Colón Román jr, William Anthony; ‘El malo’]

(b South Bronx, New York, April 28, 1950). American bandleader, composer, arranger, trombonist, popular singer, producer and actor. Dubbed ‘El malo’ (the ‘bad boy’) of salsa, he began playing the trumpet in 1963 with the teenage band the Dandees. Switching to trombone, he made his professional début at 17 with the album El malo (Fania, 1967). Both as a bandleader and a member of the Fania All-Stars, he quickly moved to the fore of the burgeoning New York salsa scene, cementing the raw, trombone-heavy ‘New York sound’ inspired by earlier artists such as Eddie Palmieri and Mon Rivera. Between 1967 and 1973 he made a series of important recordings with vocalist Hector Lavoe, which included the albums Asalto Navideño I and II (Fania, 1972 and 1973) with cuatro virtuoso Yomo Toro, where traditional Puerto Rican Christmas aguinaldos were fused with salsa. During his second period (...

Article

(b Peru, IL, April 3, 1895; d Lakewood, NJ, Nov 22, 1971). American composer and pianist. After studying music at the Chicago Musical College he formed a touring orchestra with his brother James in about 1915. Through his work as a pianist and arranger for various piano-roll companies (QRS, Ampico, Imperial and Victor) he developed a popular style known as Novelty piano. This combined classical piano technique with syncopated rhythms and peppy tunes. The technical possibilities of piano rolls helped inspire some of his flashy keyboard effects and rhythmic tricks that influenced later composers in the novelty-piano idiom. Among his most popular pieces were Stumbling (1922), Dizzy Fingers (1923) and Kitten on the Keys (1921), the last of which he performed at Paul Whiteman’s Aeolian Hall concert, 12 February 1924. These and other pieces were issued by Jack Mills, Inc. as Modern Novelty Piano Solos...

Article

Howard Goldstein

(Nell)

(b Atlanta, GA, Oct 25, 1927; d New York, Aug 8, 2017). American singer, and actress. After arriving in New York in 1948 she began to sing at clubs and resorts, eventually procuring an engagement at the Blue Angel club in 1950. Her Broadway début in the political satire Flahooley (1951) was followed by revivals of Oklahoma! in 1953 and Carousel in 1954, in which she played supporting roles; she would eventually play the leads in important revivals of Carousel (1956), The King and I (1961), and Show Boat (1966). Meanwhile, in 1954 her starring roles in original musicals began with Hilda Miller in Plain and Fancy, Cunegonde in Candide (1956), which featured the coloratura parody ‘Glitter and be Gay’, and Marian in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man (1957) in which her portrayal of the stern librarian was her greatest popular success on Broadway and earned her a Tony Award....