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[Bortnyansky, Dmitry Stepanovich]

(b Hlukhiv, Ukraine, 1751; d St Petersburg, 28 Sept/Oct 10, 1825). Ukrainian composer, singer and music director, active in Russia. He began his musical training early, possibly at the Hlukhiv choir school, and in 1758 went to sing in the Russian imperial court chapel in St Petersburg, where he became one of Empress Elizabeth's favourite choirboys. Singled out for his unusual talent, he was trained in opera and eventually performed major roles in court productions: in 1764 he played the role of Admetus in H.F. Raupach's Al′tsesta.

During this period he studied composition with Galuppi. In 1769, after Galuppi had left for Venice, Catherine the Great sent Bortnyans′ky to further his studies there, with Galuppi. His first extant compositions date from his years in Italy: he composed three opere serie, two of them, Creonte (1776) and Alcide (1778), for Venice and the third, ...

Article

David Buckley

(Robert)

(b Brixton, London, 8 Jan 1947; d New York, 10 Jan 2016). English rock singer, songwriter, and producer. His career witnessed a large number of musical changes. His influence on a succession of styles and their attendant subcultures – glam and punk in the 1970s, new romanticism in the 1980s, and Britpop in the 1990s – made him arguably the most important British recording artist since the Beatles.

He began recording in the mid-1960s as Davy [Davie] Jones, heading a succession of short-lived rhythm and blues and mod groups. In 1966 he changed his name to Bowie in order to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of the Monkees. His early work, influenced by Anthony Newley, had little in common with the dominant rock styles of the day and was largely overlooked. In 1969, in the guise of a hippy singer-songwriter, he achieved his first hit with the single Space Oddity...

Article

Richard Will

(b Winter Park, FL, July 28, 1935; d Amherst, MA, July 21, 2009). American singer, choral director, educator, and music historian. He studied at Bethune-Cookman College (BA 1957) and the Eastman School of Music (MA 1964, PhD 1973), and was Professor of Music Theory and African-American Music at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1973–99). Boyer was a leading authority on African-American gospel music, to which he made contributions as a scholar, editor, performer, and educator. With his brother James, he performed and recorded with major gospel stars and also as The Boyer Brothers duo. At the same time he toured widely as a soloist and directed many gospel choirs, including the Voices of New Africa House Workshop Choir (1973–7) and the Fisk Jubilee Singers during his tenure as United Negro College Fund Distinguished Scholar-at-Large (1985–7). He arranged spirituals and gospel songs and edited ...

Article

David Griffioen

(b Năsăud, March 25, 1887; d Cluj, Dec 1, 1968). Romanian composer, singer, director and conductor. He began formal studies in Năsăud and continued in 1906 at the conservatory in Cluj (then Kolozsvár). In 1908 he entered the Vienna Music Academy, where he studied singing with Gustav Geiringer and Julius Meixner. After a temporary disruption he enrolled at the National Hungarian Royal Academy of Music in Budapest, studying this time with József Sík. He graduated in 1912, having also earned his licentiate in law from the University of Cluj in 1910.

Bretan’s professional career began at the Bratislava Opera in 1913, followed by a position at the Oradea Opera. In 1917 he settled permanently in Cluj, fulfilling responsibilities as singer, stage director and even briefly director-general (Romanian Opera, 1944–5) for the various resident Hungarian and Romanian opera companies there, until political circumstances forced his retirement in 1948...

Article

(b Honolulu, HI, Nov 9, 1909; d Honolulu, HI, April 27, 1992). Hawaiian singer, musician, bandleader, composer, and impresario. Sol Bright was a master entertainer of the old school: an energetic showman, accomplished musician, comic hula dancer, composer, raconteur, and entertainment director during Hawaiian music’s era of greatest international appeal, the 1920s through the 1960s.

His professional experience began as a teenager playing drums with his sister Hannah’s dance band. In 1928 an offer to play rhythm guitar and sing with Sol Ho`opi`i took him to Kaleponi (California), where a large community of Hawaiian musicians had formed. He started his own group, The Hollywood Hawaiians, in 1932. Playing steel guitar and singing, he recorded prolifically for major labels. He also appeared on radio and in four films: South Sea Rose,Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case,Flirtation Walk, and White Woman. Bright composed a number of songs that have become standards, including the jazzy English language “Sophisticated Hula” and “Hawaiian Cowboy,” a show-stopping novelty song in Hawaiian. With rapid-fire verses, reflective of fast ...

Article

Olivia Carter Mather

[Joseph Henry]

(b St. Louis, MO, Jan 14, 1948). American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer. Best known for his work as a record producer in the 1990s and 2000s, he began his career as a rock musician, hired by Bob Dylan in 1975 for his Rolling Thunder Revue tour. In the late 1970s Burnett formed the Alpha Band and recorded three albums before launching his solo career. Burnett’s solo material was critically acclaimed—he was named Songwriter of the Year by Rolling Stone in 1983—but commercially unsuccessful. He has continued to record solo albums intermittently into the 2000s, but his main work since the mid-1980s has been production.

Burnett’s credits span a wide range of genres with an emphasis on singer-songwriters and Americana; he has recorded Elvis Costello, John Mellencamp, Gillian Welch, B.B. King, the Counting Crows, Los Lobos, Roy Orbison, Bruce Cockburn, Willie Nelson, Robert Randolph, and Sam(uel Cornelius) Phillips...

Article

Steve Otfinoski

(b Sunflower, MS, Dec 8, 1939). American rhythm-and-blues singer, songwriter, and producer. He began singing professionally in Chicago in the North Jubilee Gospel Singers, where he met Curtis Mayfield. The two joined Sam Gooden and brothers Arthur and Richard Brooks to form the Roosters in 1957. The group later changed its name to Impressions, the and signed with Vee-Jay Records. “For your Precious Love,” with Butler on lead, became a major hit in 1958, and some music historians consider it to be the first soul record. Butler left the Impressions to pursue a solo career, and Mayfield, a gifted songwriter, wrote several of Butler’s subsequent releases, including “He will break your heart” (VJ, 1960). Dubbed the “Iceman” for his cool but passionate baritone, Butler enjoyed great success in the early sixties with such hits as “Moon River” (VJ, 1961), the title song from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s...

Article

Randolph Love

[Cale, John Wheldon; Cale, J.J.]

(b Oklahoma City, OK, Dec 5, 1938). American Guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, and engineer. He began his career playing in clubs in Tulsa and joined Gene Crose’s band in 1957. He made some of his first recordings when his own band, Johnnie Cale and the Valentines, worked as a backing group to Al Sweatt. By 1958 his band had become the Johnny Cale Quintette and it was with this group that he made his first recording under his own name, “Purple Onion.” A big break came in 1965 when Snuff Garrett of Amigo Studio hired him to be a recording engineer. Around this time Elmer Valentine, who owned the club Whiskey a Go-Go in Los Angeles, suggested that Cale use the stage name JJ Cale. In 1966 he began songwriting and in 1969 was signed by Denny Cordell and Leon Russell to Shelter Records.

Cale’s success as a singer and songwriter came shortly after Eric Clapton covered his song “After Midnight.” The top-20 success of “After Midnight” and later “Cocaine” and “Travelin’ Light” began a relationship between Cale and Clapton which has lasted into the 21st century and produced the Grammy-winning album ...

Article

Richard Witts

(b Garnant, South Glamorgan, March 9, 1942). Welsh composer, singer-songwriter, producer and arranger. His father was a coal miner and his mother a primary school teacher, who taught her son the piano. As a working-class boy growing up under the postwar conditions of ‘one nation’ Britain, he gained access to a grammar school education and the provision of free musical instrument tuition, in his case the viola. As a teenager he became a viola player in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales but at the same time he explored the rebellious subculture of the ‘teddy boy’, a teenage lifestyle increasingly associated with American rock and roll.

Between October 1960 and July 1963 Cale undertook a teacher-training course at Goldsmiths College, London, where he developed an interest in avant-garde music and made contact with Cardew, a liberal arts tutor there. In July 1963 they together organized ‘A Little Festival of New Music’ at the college, which comprised works by Cage and Fluxus artists such as George Brecht and Nam June Paik, and included the British première of La Monte Young’s controversially repetitive X for Henry Flynt. Two of Cale’s own early Fluxus-style compositions were published in the ...

Article

H. Wiley Hitchcock

(fl 1785–95). Cellist, guitarist, singer, impresario, and composer of French origin, active in Philadelphia and New York. He is first mentioned in 1785 as a manager of subscription concerts in Philadelphia. He organized similar concerts in New York, generally in series of three: in 1788–89, with Alexander Reinagle as co-manager; in 1791–92; and in 1793–94 (the City Concerts, presented at the City Tavern). He performed in these as the soloist in cello concertos, as a member of chamber duos and quartets, and as a singer (often in duets with Mary Ann Pownall); he also played cello in the Old American Company’s orchestra. In the early 1790s, he was a music tutor of George Washington’s stepdaughter Nelly Custis, while in 1793 he became the co-manager with John Christopher Moller of a music store and school in Philadelphia, considered the first of its kind in America. Capron and Moller published four issues of ...