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Article

Kate Daubney

(b New York, Nov 21, 1896; d Beverly Hills, CA, May 24, 1960). American composer, arranger, orchestrator and conductor. He studied the piano with Maurice Gould and Jeanne Franco, and composition and orchestration with Frank Saddler. During the 1920s he worked as an arranger for Broadway musicals, including The Girlfriend, Manhattan Mary, and the Ziegfeld Follies of 1920 and 1921. He also wrote songs for the 1922 musical Glory. He established the De Packh ensemble which he conducted between 1928 and 1931, then in 1933 he went to Hollywood as an arranger and orchestrator. He worked first for MGM, and other smaller studios, on films such as The Dancing Lady (1933) and Rip Tide (1934). He was also one of the team of five principal orchestrators who assisted composer Max Steiner with Gone with the Wind (1939), a score that exemplifies the richness of orchestral timbre and complexity of arrangement that were hallmarks of film music of the time. In the early 1940s he moved to Twentieth Century-Fox where he worked on a number of Betty Grable musicals, including ...

Article

Ed Bemis

(b East Durham, NY, April 28, 1926; d New York, Feb 7, 2009). American popular singer and pianist. She began her career as a member of the Blue Flames, a vocal group within Woody Herman’s orchestra, and the Blue Reys, a similar group in Alvino Rey’s band. In 1952 she went to Paris, where she performed with Annie Ross and also formed her own vocal group, the Blue Stars, whose jazz rendition of Lullaby of Birdland (sung in French) was a big hit in the USA. Two other vocal groups, the Double Six of Paris and the Swingle Singers, developed from the Blue Stars. Dearie returned to the USA in the late 1950s and subsequently appeared in night clubs in New York and Los Angeles, accompanying herself at the head of her own trios. From 1974 she made recordings for her own company, Daffodil Records, and in 1985...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Graslitz [now Kraslice], Bohemia, July 8, 1857; d Dresden, Sept 24, 1910). German composer and conductor. The son of a woodwind instrument maker, he attended the music school in Graslitz for three years and then (1874 to 1879) studied the clarinet with Julius Pisařowitz at the Prague Conservatory. In 1880 he became theatre conductor in Brno and was subsequently at various other German theatres before he went to the Carl Schultze-Theater in Hamburg in 1883. There he met the singer Anna Maria Eppich (1864–1919), whom he married in 1886 after the wide success of his first operetta Don Cesar; this work, which used the same story as Wallace’s Maritana, was performed throughout Germany and Austria and as far afield as the USA. In 1893 Dellinger became chief conductor at the Residenz-Theater in Dresden, where further operettas by him were produced with limited success. In later years he suffered from financial worries and consequent overwork, and in ...

Article

Patrick O’Connor

[Maria Magdalene]

(b Weimar, Dec 27, 1901; d Paris, May 6, 1992). American actress and singer of German birth. She studied the violin and piano first in Weimar then later at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, but abandoned a career as a violinist to go on the stage, partly because of a wrist injury. After work as a chorus dancer and playing small parts, she entered Max Reinhardt’s theatre school. In 1928 the composer Mischa Spoliansky cast her in a major role in his musical Es liegt in der Luft, in which she sang her first recorded song, ‘Wenn die beste Freundin’. The following year Spoliansky’s Zwei Kravatten brought her to the attention of the Austrian-American film director Josef von Sternberg who cast her as the cabaret singer Lola-Lola in Der blaue Engel, for which she sang four songs by Friedrich Hollaender, including ‘Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss aus Liebe eingestellt’ (‘Falling in Love Again’). Sternberg made six films with her in Hollywood (...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Bucharest, April 3, 1889; d Bucharest, March 28, 1949). Romanian violinist and composer. He studied at the Bucharest Conservatory (1902–6) with Kiriac-Georgescu (theory and solfège), Rudolf Malcher, Gheorghe A. Dinicu and Carl Flesch (violin), Dimitrie A. Dinicu (chamber music) and Alfonso Castaldi (orchestra) and later with Cecilia Nitzulescu-Lupu and Vasile Filip (violin). He was a violinist in the orchestra of the Ministry of Public Instruction (1906–8) and solo violinist with the Bucharest PO, directed popular music concerts (1906–46) and was leader of the Bucharest Pro Musica (1938–40). In addition, he made tours abroad, collected and arranged Romanian popular melodies and composed several pieces for violin and piano. Among these Hora staccato (1906) has achieved particular popularity as a violin encore; others include Hora spiccato, Hora de concert, Improvisation à la Dinicu, Hora martisorului, Hora de la Chiţorani...

Article

Robert B. Winans

(b 1808; d New Orleans, 1861). American minstrel performer. He was most famous for his entr’acte performances of Coal Black Rose, the first blackface comic lovesong, and Long Tailed Blue, the first song of the black dandy; both of these song types later became standard in the minstrel show, and both songs are in a simple musical style that was thought (mistakenly) to represent African American music. Dixon claimed authorship of these songs (and, less credibly, of Zip Coon), and is credited as the first to perform them; he presented Coal Black Rose as early as 1827 in Albany and in 1828 brought it to New York, where he became highly popular. Capitalizing on this success, in 1829 he expanded the song into two comic skits (an interlude and an afterpiece), The Lottery Ticket and Love in a Cloud; the latter has been cited as the first ‘negro play’. Dixon performed throughout the 1830s, but by the 1840s he had been eclipsed by other minstrel performers; he went on to gain notoriety as a filibuster in Yucatán and as the editor of a New York scandal sheet. ...

Article

Philip L. Scowcroft

(b London, June 5, 1918; d Suffolk, May 9, 1992). English arranger, composer and pianist. He studied at the RAM, then, as a pianist, began broadcasting in 1946, latterly in a duo with Edward Rubach. He was perhaps best known on radio as an arranger of folk and popular tunes, film and musical comedy themes for orchestra, sometimes with chorus. He was skilled at finding novel approaches to his arrangements for such BBC radio programmes as ‘Melodies for You’ and the long-running ‘Friday Night is Music Night’, and also for his own sextet and trio. Some are so inventive as to straddle the boundary between arrangement and composition, like the London Rhapsody for piano and orchestra and the ‘kindergarten fresco’ Ourselves When Young.

Among his own compositions are the entertainment pieces for brass band, Cornet Cascade and Jolly Roger, and a suite in the manner of Coates, Scènes du ballet...

Article

George J. Ferencz

(b Hartford, CT, Aug 3, 1906; d Los Angeles, Sept 26, 1972). American conductor, composer, arranger and film producer. He attended Loyola College, later studying with Joseph Schillinger and Ernst Toch. Beginning in 1927, he conducted Broadway musicals by several of its leading songwriters, including Schwartz (Flying Colors, 1932), Romberg (May Wine, 1935), Arlen (Hooray for What?, 1937), Porter (Leave it to Me, 1938), Kern (Very Warm for May, 1939) and Berlin (Louisiana Purchase, 1940). He also appeared frequently as a network radio conductor during the 1930s. He joined Paramount in 1941 and worked on several dozen films, variously as composer, arranger, conductor or musical director, including Holiday Inn (1942), Lady in the Dark (1944) and Blue Skies (1946). He also served as producer for the lavish Paramount musicals White Christmas...

Article

Karen Monson

(b Antioch, CA, July 28, 1914; d Santa Monica, CA, March 28, 1984). American conductor and composer. After study at California State University, San Jose, he pursued a varied musical life. He directed and recorded light classics with an orchestra made up essentially of members of the Los Angeles PO; his later career as a conductor continued on similar lines, principally with the Glendale (California) SO, which he joined in 1963 and which under him gained national celebrity. He also made guest appearances in concert and on television with leading orchestras in the United States, South America, and Europe. Dragon had many years of experience as a speaker and conductor in radio and television, notably on the network for the armed forces and as music director for more than 25 years (from around 1950) of the Standard School Broadcast music appreciation program: his televised annual Christmas concert with the Glendale SO won an Emmy Award (...

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

[Capurro, Alfredo]

(b New York, Oct 7, 1914; d New York, July 25, 1992). American actor, singer, director and writer. One of the most versatile dramatic performers, Drake garnered numerous accolades for his performances in opera, musical theatre and legitimate stage roles. He began his Broadway career in 1935 in the chorus of several Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. His numerous Broadway roles included Marshall Blackstone and the High Priest in Babes in Arms (1937), Curly McLain in Oklahoma! (1943), Larry Foreman in The Cradle Will Rock (1947 revival), Fred Graham and Petruccio in Kiss Me, Kate (1948), and Hajj in Kismet (1953). He received the Variety New York Drama Critics Poll Award for Oklahoma! the Donaldson award for Kiss Me, Kate, and the Variety New York Drama Critics Poll award, the Donaldson award and a Tony award for Kismet. Drake also starred in numerous American Shakespeare Festival productions and directed several plays. He also appeared on television and made numerous recordings of musical theatre works. He was known for the arresting, dramatic quality of his voice. His wide-ranging baritone and powerful, resonant sound necessitated the portrayal of strong and dominant characters....

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

[Edna Mae]

(b Winnipeg, MB, Dec 4, 1921; d Paris, ?20 April, 2013). Canadian actress and singer. At the age of 14, Durbin caught the attention of MGM producers, who cast her in Every Sunday (1935) alongside Judy Garland. She then signed on with Universal Pictures and became the effervescent teenager who sang like an angel but frequently found mischief. Her sunny disposition and gleeful songs would rescue her from any of her ill-fated schemes. Her 21 films included Three Smart Girls (1936), One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937), Mad About Music (1938), That Certain Age (1938), First Love (1939), Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939), It's a Date (1940), Spring Parade (1940) and Can't Help Singing (1944). Although her Hollywood career lasted only 13 years, she made a lasting impression as the quintessential precocious innocent with a natural vocal charm. She received a special Academy Award in ...

Article

Robert Skinner

(b Providence, RI, June 29, 1901; d Miami Beach, FL, March 6, 1967). American baritone and actor. He moved with his family in 1915 to Philadelphia, where he studied singing with David Bispham. He made his début in a musical play (The Marriage Tax) at the Philadelphia Academy of Music in 1922, and also sang roles with the Philadelphia Civic Opera and the Philadelphia Operatic Society before appearing at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1924. He spent the years 1928 to 1933 giving concert tours throughout the USA. He made his first film in 1933 and achieved fame two years later when he starred with Jeanette MacDonald in Naughty Marietta, the success of which led to their appearing together in seven further film musicals, including Rose Marie (1936), Maytime (1937), New Moon (1940) and Bitter Sweet (1940). Eddy made several recordings and continued to perform on radio, television and in concerts up to the time of his death....

Article

Walter Starkie

revised by Charles Fox and Alyn Shipton

[Federico]

(b Manila, Dec 12, 1907; d Manila, Jan 16, 1979). Filipino bandleader, pianist, conductor and composer of Spanish parentage. He studied at the Madrid Conservatory, with, among others, Trago and Perez Casas. In 1921 he went to England for two years' study at St Joseph's College, London, and later entered Stanford University, California, where his parents intended him to study law. However, under the influence of Bloch, with whom he had composition lessons, he left in 1926 to give his attention to music. At this point his fascination for jazz and dance music began, and he led the Stanford University Band for a season at the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, while continuing formal composition studies. After cutting his first discs with his Cinderella Roof Orchestra in Hollywood, he returned to England to read law at Cambridge University (where his brother, the saxophonist Manuel (Lizz) Elizalde, was also a student) in ...

Article

Paul Webb

(b New York, June 15, 1900; d London, Jan 30, 2003). American soprano. After an operatic training she appeared in New York at the Metropolitan Opera House during the last days of World War I, where she created the role of the Novice in Suor Angelica and later also sang Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi) during the first run of performances of Il trittico. She sang Giannetta to Caruso’s Nemorino and Fyodor to Chaliapin’s Boris before turning to lighter music in 1924, when she created the title role in Hammerstein and Friml’s Rose Marie, and then began acting in plays and films. Admired by Ivor Novello, she came to London to take the leading female role, that of opera singer Militza Hajos, in the first of his Drury Lane musicals, Glamorous Night (1935), whose success was partly due to Ellis’s varied talents. Her operatic training showed in the strength and quality of her higher notes, and made her ideal as opera singer Maria Ziegler in Novello’s ...

Article

John Snelson

(John Herman)

(b Hampstead, Oct 29, 1903; d London, June 19, 1996). English composer, lyricist and pianist. His grandmother Julia Woolf (1831–93) was a pianist and composer, publishing piano pieces, songs and the comic opera Carina (1888), and his mother was a violin pupil of Ysaÿe. He won a music scholarship to Cheltenham College and later studied the piano with Myra Hess at the RAM; his recordings of piano medleys of his own work, especially that from Streamline (1934), reveal a strong technique. Inspired by the music of Paul Rubens, particularly after seeing a revival of Tonight's the Night, he turned to composing light music, contributing additional songs to shows including The Curate's Egg (1922) and By the Way (1923). He learned about songwriting styles as a song plugger for Francis, Day & Hunter, and in 1928 became a composer for Chappell. His first transatlantic hit was achieved with ‘I never dreamt’ in the revue ...

Article

Robert Stevenson

(b Mount Vernon, OH, Oct 29, 1815; d Mount Vernon, June 28, 1904). American composer and minstrel performer. He had little formal education, but in early youth learned popular tunes from his musical mother and taught himself to play the fiddle. At the age of 13 he became an apprentice printer and in 1834 enlisted in the US Army. At Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, he became an expert fifer and drummer, publishing his own Fifer’s and Drummer’s Guide in 1862 in cooperation with George Brace. On receiving his discharge from the army on 8 July 1835 he joined a Cincinnati circus, for one member of which he wrote the words of his first ‘black song’ (to the tune of Gumbo Chaff). In 1840–42 he toured with the Angervine and other circuses as a blackface banjoist and singer.

In November 1842 Emmett and Frank Brower (1823–74), a blackface dancer and singer who was the first black impersonator to play the bones, formed a fiddle and bones duo in New York. From ...

Article

(b Vienna, Oct 20, 1853; d New York, Sept 13, 1914). American composer and conductor of Austrian birth. He received his musical education in his native city, where he reportedly studied with Jacques Offenbach. He emigrated to the USA in 1882, became conductor at the Thalia Theatre, New York, and began arranging other composers’ works. His own first published score was 1776, a three-act romantic comic opera in German (1884), but his first (and greatest) success was The Passing Show (1894), the earliest of the lavish topical American revues. Englander composed scores for about 55 shows, principally comic operas, writing as many as four a year during the period 1895 to 1904. More than 50 of his songs and a handful of piano pieces (mostly from the shows) were published. Although he was a prolific composer of well-crafted songs and dances, Englander’s thorough grounding in Viennese operetta prevented him from adapting, towards the end of his career, to the Tin Pan Alley and musical comedy styles. The most popular songs in some of his shows were in fact written by other men: for example, ‘Sweet Annie Moore’ (...

Article

Michael J. Budds

(b Toronto, April 7, 1908; d Los Angeles, Feb 9, 1976). Canadian conductor, arranger and composer, active in the USA. He studied music at the Canadian Academy and the Toronto Conservatory, and made his début as a pianist in Massey Music Hall in 1923. After he badly burnt his hands he began to concentrate on composition and, while continuing to accompany silent films (1920–27), formed his own string ensemble and began writing arrangements for dance bands. He was first engaged as an arranger and conductor of popular music for radio in 1927, and had his own programme, ‘Music by Faith’, from 1938 to 1940. From then on he worked in the USA, and he became an American citizen in 1945. He presented such radio programmes as ‘The Carnation Contented Hour’ (NBC, 1940–47), ‘The Pause that Refreshes’ (CBS, 1946–9), and ‘The Woolworth Hour’ (CBS, 1955–7...

Article

Simon Collier

[La Joyita Argentina ]

(b Buenos Aires, Aug 17, 1905). Argentine tango singer. She started singing and acting as a young girl, winning the nickname of La Joyita Argentina (the Little Argentine Jewel). After 1925 she made over 200 recordings for the RCA-Victor and Odeon labels, many with the band of Francisco Canaro. She was one the most popular of Argentine radio artists in the first half of the 1930s and also appeared in films; her legendary green eyes gave her the allure of a femme fatale. After ...

Article

David Ades

(Joseph)

(b Toronto, ON, July 24, 1917; d Guernsey, April 22, 2005). Canadian arranger, composer and conductor. He began his career as a trumpet player in dance bands, and then for Percy Faith's CBC Orchestra. By 1942 he had composed two symphonies and in 1944 he came to Britain as conductor of the Canadian Band of the Allied Expeditionary Force, alongside Glenn Miller and George Melachrino fronting the US and British bands. He took his army discharge in Britain, and Decca contracted him to work with their leading singers such as Vera Lynn and Gracie Fields; the BBC gave him a radio series with his own orchestra. He began composing for the cinema, and early successes out of some 40 scores included Spring in Park Lane, Maytime in Mayfair and Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N.. The arrival of LPs gave orchestra leaders such as Farnon the opportunity to develop their arranging and composing talents more fully, and his Decca albums from the 1950s have become highly prized by admirers, especially fellow musicians in the USA. Many have acknowledged his influence, including John Williams, Henry Mancini, Quincy Jones and Johnny Mandel. Farnon’s light orchestral cameos are among the finest to have been written since World War II, notably ...