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Rodney Lister

(Victor )

(b New York, NY, May 15, 1912; d Boston, MA, Oct 7, 2003). American composer and critic. He was a student at the Townsend Harris High School, the College of the City of New York, and New York University (BS 1934). During these years he espoused leftist politics and was a member—along with Bernard Herrmann, Jerome Moross, Israel Citkowitz, Vivian Fine, Elie Siegmeister, and others—of various radical composers’ groups including the Young Composers Group that formed around Aaron Copland. He was a fellowship student in the newly formed Professional Division of the Longy School of Music (1935–7) concurrently with graduate studies at Harvard University (MA 1936), where he trained in musicology with Hugo Leichtentritt, aesthetics with D.W. Prall, and theory and analysis with walter Piston . From 1937 to 1939 he studied theory with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He taught at Mills College (1939–42...


Christiane Spieth-Weissenbacher

(b Geneva, Oct 10, 1900; d Paris, May 2, 1971). French music critic and composer. He studied at Geneva Conservatoire and University with G.T. Strong, Otto Barblan and Joseph Lauber, and with L.F.A. Aubert in Paris (1926). During his wide-ranging career he worked as a concert pianist, choirmaster and conductor, and as a teacher at the Conservatoire International de Paris (1929) and Schola Cantorum (1937), but he was known chiefly as a music critic and composer. He wrote for several Parisian daily newspapers and edited various French music periodicals including the Revue musicale (1939–40, 1946–51) and L'information musicale (1940–44); his books are mainly about French music. His compositions include the operas Flen (1918), Le chevalier au Barizel (1919) and Polyphème (1922), orchestral music (including Les bergers d'Arcadie and Prélude au cimetière marin...


Henri Vanhulst

(b Tournai, May 26, 1898; d Ixelles, Brussels, Dec 12, 1981). Belgian composer and critic. After studying philosophy and law he applied himself to thorough music studies, taking composition lessons with Absil and Souris. If Bertouille’s attachment to traditional forms was reminiscent of neo-classicism, he considered melody as the essential element in music, assigning to it the expression of feeling as its principal objective. Avoiding any aggressivity in the sphere of harmony, he advocated aesthetic ideas opposed to the avant garde. In L’oeuvre d’art he argued that contemporary art had lost its way: by renouncing every structural principle it had ceased to have any meaning, existing only by virtue of its negations.

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Sergio Lattes

(b Calcio, nr Bergamo, Feb 2, 1819; d Florence, March 21, 1897). Italian music critic and composer. He studied the violin in Milan, and was taught composition by Vaccai. While still a student he wrote a comic opera Don Desiderio disperato per eccesso di buon cuore (1839) and his later works include the opera Martino delta Scala (1856, Messina), a Requiem (1856) and other sacred music, cantatas and songs. He was for some time a conductor. In 1847 he founded L’Italia musicale, and (as Ippolito d’Albano) contributed to the Gazzetta musicale di Milano and other periodicals. From 1863 he taught at the Istituto Musicale in Florence and was critic of La nazione; he played a major role in the city’s flourishing musical life.

Although Biaggi was a supporter of the German instrumental and chamber tradition, as an opera critic his standard was the Italian tradition that culminated in Rossini (he had met the composer in Paris), and he showed limited sympathy for opera of his own time. He did, however, adopt advanced ideas on Rossini, defending him against the formalistic criticism that categorized the composer as a mediocre dramatist and an unorthodox church composer. In his reviews of Beethoven performances, at that time manifestations of the avant garde in Italy, he on the one hand rejected any hedonistic concept of music, and on the other opposed the notion of ‘musical truth’ to the old canon of verisimilitude (the imitation of nature), that is, he stood for the principle of artistic creation according to its own laws. He consequently also upheld the artistic autonomy of sacred music, defending the composer’s freedom of language even in that sphere. A large work on the life and work of Rossini, the outgrowth of his essay of ...


Linda Troost


(b ?Dublin, Sept 26, 1733; d ?1808). English playwright of Irish birth. He served in the army before moving to London and drew on his military experience in his libretto for the patriotic afterpiece Thomas and Sally (1760). His successful Covent Garden piece Love in a Village (1762) started a new fashion in opera, as The Beggar’s Opera had done decades earlier. He combined a witty, romantic plot in spoken dialogue with sophisticated music drawn from continental comic opera. The pasticcio score is derived mostly from Italian opera, from oratorio, and from the songs of Thomas Arne, but uses little traditional English music, which Bickerstaff despised. As in ballad opera, the songs help to advance the action, but they also demand well-trained singers and full orchestral accompaniment.

Bickerstaff’s innovation spread quickly in the London theatre. He continued to vary the form: The Maid of the Mill...


Christopher Smith

(b Douai, Aug 29, 1789; d Paris, March 3, 1855). French dramatist . While a clerk in the Droits Réunis in Lille he published pamphlets attacking the restored Bourbon monarchy, and was transferred to the Ministère des Finances in Paris. His first dramatic work, the tragedy Lothaire, written in collaboration with one F. Hay, was published in 1817 but not performed. Attila, a five-act verse tragedy, opened to acclaim at the Odéon, Paris, on 26 April 1822; its success, however, was probably due to Mlle George’s acting and to some propaganda that led to the banning of the tragedy. Blanche d’Aquitaine (Comedie-Française, 29 October 1827) also had marked political leanings; this play was probably the source upon which Felice Romani based his libretto for Donizetti’s Ugo, conte di Parigi (1832). Though not a particularly proficient playwright, Bis was called on to shorten Etienne de Jouy’s version of Schiller’s drama for Rossini’s ...


Hugh Macdonald

(b Bordeaux, ?April 1791; d Paris, Dec 18, 1858). French violinist, composer, dramatist and critic. His date of birth, given as 7 February 1778 in all reference works since Fétis, is contradicted by Blanchard himself in the Revue et gazette musicale (21 January 1838). He was a pupil of Franz Beck in Bordeaux and of Kreutzer (violin), Méhul and Reicha (composition) in Paris. In 1815 he wrote the words and music of a pantomime, Clarisse et Lovelace, and was conductor at the Théâtre des Variétés from 1818 until 1829. There he came into contact with the leading actors and entertainers of the day, and composed a large quantity of vaudeville airs, some of which, for example Tra la la and Guernadier, que tu m’affliges, enjoyed immense popularity. In 1830 he became director of the Théâtre Molière, where a series of his plays appeared, one of which, ...


L.M. Butir

revised by Lyudmila Kovnatskaya

(b Starozhilovka, nr St Petersburg, July 17, 1903; d Moscow, May 13, 1971). Russian critic and composer. His father was a leading laryngologist and specialist in the teaching of the deaf and dumb. His mother possessed literary gifts, and the whole family took a keen interest in the arts. However, on his father’s insistence Bogdanov-Berezovsky attended the Nikolayevsky military school (1914–17).

He began to compose in childhood, and on the advice of Ziloti, a friend of the family, took lessons with V.M. Belyayev (1918–19). He entered the Petrograd Conservatory in 1919 to study composition with Steinberg and piano with Daugovet. He studied counterpoint first with N. Sokolov and then with A. Lyapunov, and instrumentation with A. Zhitomirsky. His father’s death forced him to discontinue his piano studies at the Conservatory and take a job as a medical orderly on the ship Narodovlets. As a result, in ...


William Ashbrook


(b Padua, Feb 24, 1842; d Milan, June 10, 1918). Italian librettist, composer, poet and critic. He is best remembered for his one completed opera, Mefistofele, and for his collaborations as librettist with Verdi.

The son of a painter of miniatures and a Polish countess, he was brought up in Venice after his father deserted his wife and two sons. Between the ages of five and ten he received his first musical instruction from Luigi Plet and the brothers Antonio and Giovanni Buzzolla. There being no conservatory at Venice, he enrolled at the Milan Conservatory in 1853; after 1854 his course was subsidized by a grant. At first his teachers found him eccentric and lackadaisical, but when he began his lifelong friendship with another student, Franco Faccio, admitted in 1855, Boito's progress became marked. In September 1860 their joint cantata, Il quattro giugno, was performed at the conservatory. The title referred to ...


Kathleen Dale

revised by Axel Helmer

(b Stockholm, June 6, 1804; d Stockholm, March 17, 1861). Swedish music critic, historian and composer. He was a pupil of Per Frigel. He earned his living as a clerk in the Swedish Customs and was for many years music critic for the Post och inrikes tidningar. In 1849 he was elected a member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Music, the library of which he helped to catalogue. In 1850 he translated Birch’s Darstellung der Bühnenkunst into Swedish. He lectured extensively on music history at the conservatory in 1852, and wrote articles for the Ny tidning för musik during the whole period of its existence (1853–7). The most important of these was ‘En blick på tonkonsten i Sverige’, a survey of Swedish music during the previous 50 years. Boman is considered one of the most reliable and important Swedish writers on music before Adolf Lindgren. (...