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Stephen Plaistow


(b Gor′kiy [now Nizhniy Novgorod], July 6, 1937). Russian pianist and conductor, naturalized Icelandic. He was born into a musical Jewish family and entered the Moscow Central School of Music in 1945; his teacher there for the next ten years was Anaida Sumbatyan. His first major recital, devoted entirely to Chopin, was in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory in April 1955, and later that year he gained second prize at the fifth Warsaw International Chopin Competition. In 1956, now a pupil of Lev Oborin at the Moscow Conservatory, he was awarded first prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. While still a student he made his first tour outside the USSR the following year, to East and West Germany. After graduating, it was inescapable that he should be groomed for the second International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1962 (the American Van Cliburn having won the first), and he duly restored national honour by carrying off a shared first prize (with John Ogdon). His London début followed in ...


(b Amsterdam, Oct 8, 1947). Dutch harpsichordist, clavichordist, organist and conductor. After a classical education, he studied the harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt and the organ with Albert de Klerk at the Amsterdam Conservatory, graduating in 1971. Since his début in Haarlem in 1968, van Asperen has performed as recitalist and occasionally as conductor in Europe, the USA and Australia. His repertory ranges from the keyboard music of the late 16th century to that of the late 18th, with special emphasis on the works of the English virginalists, Frescobaldi, the French clavecinistes, Soler, and J.S. and C.P.E. Bach. From 1968 to 1984 he performed with the ensemble Quadro Hotteterre, with whom he made several recordings. In addition to the principal harpsichord works of J.S. Bach and the organ concertos of Handel, van Asperen has also recorded the complete printed keyboard works of C.P.E. Bach and the complete sonatas of Soler....


Giorgos Sakallieros

[Nikos, Nicolaos]

(b Akkerman, now Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine, May 6, 1921; d Thessalonikē, Dec 10, 2010). Greek composer, pianist, and conductor, of Greek-Romanian parentage. He entered the Bucharest University to study chemistry (1939) and continued his initial piano studies with Miron Şoarec at the Bucharest music academy and privately with the famous Dinu Lipatti. During WWII (1941–3) he served as member of the Royal Hellenic Air Force in the Libya front. In 1944 he won the first prize in the Eistedfodd Festival in Cairo, both in piano performance and composition. He conducted his first major symphonic work, Œdipe-roi, at the Cairo Opera in 1945. In 1947–8 he studied piano and composition at the Schola Cantorum, Paris, graduating with honours. He toured extensively all over the world either as recitalist or as accompanist for renowned soloists like Jacques Thibaud, Christian Ferras, and Henryk Szeryng. With French violinist Colette Frantz he founded and ran a music school and a chamber orchestra at Martinique (...


Dave Gelly

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[Altwerger, John ]

(b Toronto, May 19, 1919; d Palm Springs, CA, Jan 8, 1990). American tenor saxophonist and bandleader. His family moved to New York in 1919. He first played professionally on alto saxophone, but changed to the tenor instrument because of Coleman Hawkins’s influence. He led his own band at Nick’s, New York, and worked with Bunny Berigan (1937–8) and Artie Shaw (c December 1938 – November 1939). Following Shaw’s first retirement he led the latter’s band briefly, then played for a short time with Jan Savitt and was a member of Benny Goodman’s orchestra and sextet (November 1940 – c June 1941); during the same period he recorded in Benny Carter’s band, accompanying Billie Holiday (September–October 1940), and again under Carter’s leadership (October 1940). After a second period with Shaw (to January 1942) Auld resumed bandleading (February 1942...


Robert Layton

(Bernhard Vilhelm)

(b Stockholm, Sept 10, 1866; d Saltsjöbaden, March 1, 1914). Swedish violinist, composer and conductor, brother of Valborg Aulin. He studied from 1877 to 1883 with J. Lindberg (violin) and C. Nordqvist (theory) at the Swedish Royal Academy of Music and in Berlin from 1884 to 1886 with E. Sauret (violin) and P. Scharwenka (composition). He was active as an orchestral musician in the early years of his career and served as leader of the Swedish Hovkapell from 1889 to 1902. In 1887 he founded the Aulin Quartet, which made annual tours of Sweden and other northern European countries until it was disbanded in 1912; it specialized not only in the Classical repertory, particularly Beethoven, but in a wide-ranging representation of the works of Scandinavian composers, above all Berwald, Grieg, E. Sjögren and W. Stenhammar. From 1890 Aulin worked closely with Stenhammar, who also took part in most of the Aulin Quartet’s tours as pianist. His circle of friends also included Grieg and Sjögren....


John L., Jr. Clark

[Calhoun, Cora]

(b Chattanooga, TN, Sept 19, 1887; d Chicago, IL, July 10, 1972). American jazz and blues pianist, composer, bandleader, arranger, and music director. After studying at Roger Williams University (Nashville) and Knoxville College, she performed on the TOBA circuit and toured accompanying her second husband Buster Austin. In the early 1920s Austin moved to Chicago, where for almost 20 years she directed shows for touring stage performers as the music director and bandleader at the Monogram and Joyland theaters. From 1923 to 1926 she also led the house band at Paramount Records, accompanying blues singers and making instrumental recordings featuring such jazz musicians as Tommy Ladnier, Al Wynn, Johnny Dodds, and Jimmy O’Bryant. After working in a defense plant during World War II, Austin returned to music, working in dancing schools. Her final recording, in 1961 for Riverside Records, was a reunion with her friend Alberta Hunter and several musicians she had previously worked with in Chicago....


Charles Barber

(Henry Patrick)

(b Vancouver, April 25, 1917; d Vancouver, Nov 30, 1983). Canadian conductor, broadcaster and accompanist. After studying the piano privately, he took degrees at the universities of British Columbia (1935) and Washington (1936), and subsequently studied at the Juilliard School of Music (1946), Columbia (1946–7) and with Hindemith at Yale (1947). From 1939 to 1980 he was principal conductor of the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra (now the CBC Vancouver Orchestra); there he gave premières of hundreds of works, including music by the Canadian composers Jean Coulthard, Barbara Pentland and Elliott Weisgarber, and earned a citation of merit from the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association of Canada. He was guest conductor with numerous Canadian and European orchestras, conducted at the Aspen Music Festival and taught at the universities of Victoria and British Columbia. He was also accompanist to Maureen Forrester, Lois Marshall and Lauritz Melchior. In ...


Elijah Wald

[Ramón Covarrubias]

(b Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, Dec 8, 1945). Mexican accordionist, singer, and bandleader. Born in Monterrey and raised in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Ramón Ayala has been the foremost figure in norteño music along the Gulf Coast and Texas border region since the 1970s. He first became famous in the 1960s as the accordionist and coleader of Los Relámpagos del Norte, with the singer-songwriter Cornelio Reyna; then formed his own band, Los Bravos del Norte, in 1971. In Mexico, Ayala is regarded as part of a great generation of border bandleaders, along with Carlos y José and Los Cadetes de Linares. North of the border, though, he has far outstripped his peers, and only California’s Los Tigres del Norte rival his ongoing popularity. Unlike the Tigres, who have consistently pushed norteño in new directions, Ayala is a traditionalist, and his success is due as much to his image as a hard-working, old-fashioned bearer of the classic tradition as to his intricate accordion passages and his keen eye for good material, from gunfighter corridos to romantically mournful ...


Barry Kernfeld

(b Cleveland, July 13, 1936; d ?New York, between 5 and Nov 25, 1970). American jazz tenor saxophonist and bandleader. He began on the alto saxophone and was playing professionally in black rhythm-and-blues bands by his mid-teens. While serving in army concert bands, he changed over to the tenor saxophone. He occasionally played in Paris clubs while stationed in France in 1960–61. After his discharge, he remained in Europe, leading a bop trio for eight months in Sweden and playing with Cecil Taylor in winter 1962–3 in Copenhagen. In 1963 he moved to New York, where he performed infrequently with Taylor. In summer 1964 he formed a quartet with Don Cherry, Gary Peacock and Sunny Murray which toured Europe later that year.

Ayler was never to find a steady audience for his radical music – his group appeared perhaps only three times in 1965 – and, although his albums were well received by the critics, he remained poor. He made no effort to clarify his music for listeners, actively discouraging musical interpretations of his recordings and instead stressing their social and spiritual issues; the inconsistent and confusing titles to his pieces further obscured his work (see Litweiler). Nevertheless, in studios and New York clubs (...


Lise Waxer

(b Santa Clara, Feb 11, 1893; d Havana, Jan 20, 1943). Cuban pianist and bandleader. As the leader of the Havana Casino Orchestra he is best known for having launched the El manicero (‘Peanut Vendor’) craze in the United States after his band performed this number at New York’s Palace Theater on 26 April 1930. Written by Moises Simon, the song became an instant hit, and within a year popular jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington had recorded versions of the tune. Expanding upon the traditional Cuban conjunto (sextet or septet), Azpiazú’s band was a 14-piece dance orchestra with trumpets, saxophones, trombone, tuba, piano, bass and Cuban percussion. Although Latin bands already existed in New York, his was the first group to be successful with the non-Latino public, helping to catalyze the rhumba dance craze that lasted throughout the decade. The Havana Casino Orchestra recorded popular versions of other tunes such as ...