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Simon Collier

[Pichuco; El Gordo]

(b Buenos Aires, July 11, 1914; d Buenos Aires, May 18, 1975). Argentine tango bandoneon player, bandleader and composer. Largely self-taught, he played full-time in tango bands from the age of 13, working in those of Juan Maglio, the Vardaro-Pugliese Sextet, Julio De Caro and Alfredo Gobbi among others. His own band made its début at the Marabú cabaret in Buenos Aires in July 1937. With Troilo’s bandoneon and the piano skills of Orlando Goñi, it was soon recognized as the leading band of its time; the first of its nearly 500 recordings date from 1938. Supremely popular in Buenos Aires, Troilo made relatively few trips abroad, which were always short. His best tango songs were written with the lyricist Homero Manzi, and include Barrio de tango and Sur, the prime tango classics of the 1940s. In 1953 he wrote music for a long-running musical comedy, El patio de la morocha...

Article

Deane L. Root

[Hubert Prior]

(b Island Pond, VT, July 28, 1901; d North Hollywood, CA, July 3, 1986). American bandleader, singer, saxophonist, actor and publisher. From 1918 he learnt the saxophone and played in a theatre orchestra in Portland, Maine, then attended the University of Maine (1921) and Yale University (to 1927). In 1928 he formed his own band, the Connecticut Yankees; he made his début as a singer in George White’s Scandals (1931), and appeared in Broadway musicals, television and over 20 films, mostly as a musician or comic actor. During the 1930s and 1940s, with his salutation ‘Heigh-ho, everybody!’, he was one of the most successful American bandleaders and singers, among the first crooners to inspire mass hysteria in his audience. With his thin, nasal voice and using a megaphone – later a microphone – he popularized the Maine Stein Song, the Yale Whiffenpoof Song, his own ...

Article

Walter Aaron Clark

(b Barcelona, Aug 10, 1836; d Barcelona, Oct 21, 1905). Spanish pianist, conductor and composer of Catalan descent. He studied with the organist and composer Vilanova at Barcelona, then continued his education in Paris with Herz (piano), and Bazin and Halévy (composition). After returning to Barcelona he gave concerts and wrote a history of music, Apuntes de historia musical, o Resumen de historia de la música (Barcelona, 1863). He was a pioneer in composing Catalan zarzuelas, and his first such work to be staged, L'ultim rey de Magnolia, to a libretto by Frederic Soler (pseud. Serafí Pitarra), was performed in Barcelona in December 1868. It was followed in June 1869 by another Catalan zarzuela to a libretto by Soler, Els pescadors de San Pol. Both were well received. He continued to compose for the stage and served as assistant conductor at a secondary theatre in Barcelona. He later became chorus master and finally conductor at the Teatro Principal. Eventually he confined himself to teaching and composition. Despite their settings, dialogue and costumes, his Catalan zarzuelas evince the influence of Italian opera so pervasive in Spain during that epoch. He was a gifted orchestrator and made effective use of colour to project dramatic situations....

Article

(b Strasbourg, Dec 9, 1837; d Paris, Feb 12, 1915). French composer, pianist and conductor. His father Louis (1801–84) and brother Léon (1832–84) were violinists and dance composers, and his Bavarian mother was a pianist. In 1842 the family moved to Paris, where his father's dance orchestra gained prominence in Society circles. Emile studied the piano with his mother and Joseph Heyberger, and in December 1853 he was formally admitted to the Conservatoire in Adolphe Laurent's piano class, where his fellow students included Massenet. For a time he earned a living testing pianos for the manufacturer Scholtus, besides giving piano lessons and playing at soirées. He was appointed court pianist to Napoléon III in 1865 and conductor of the state balls the following year, directing the music in the Tuileries, at Biarritz and at Compiègne. He took part in the war of 1870–71 as a volunteer and in ...

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

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

Clifford McCarty

(b Chicago, Aug 8, 1900; d Palm Springs, CA, Nov 10, 1956). American composer, conductor and violinist. He began to play the violin at the age of six, and four years later went to live with his grandfather in Warsaw, where he studied at the conservatory. He made his début as a soloist with the Warsaw PO in 1917. In 1920 he returned to the USA, and the following year made his American début at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. Between 1922 and 1929 he was a leader in movie theatres, a musical supervisor of vaudeville productions, a violinist and arranger for Ted Fiorito’s orchestra, and the assistant musical director of the Balaban and Katz theatre chain.

He first worked for radio in 1929, and in 1931 became musical director for Brunswick Records, where in 1932 he arranged and conducted several selections from Show Boat with soloists, chorus and orchestra; released on four discs, it was the first American album ever made from the score of a Broadway musical. In ...