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Article

Blake Howe

(b New York, April 8, 1856; d New York, Feb 4, 1919). American theater manager, conductor, and composer. After studying harmony and composition with Emile Durand at the Paris Conservatoire (1874–7), Aronson returned to New York as a young manager and conductor at the Metropolitan Hall. He encountered his greatest success as founder of the Casino Theatre in Manhattan, a building celebrated for its “Moorish” architecture and its roof garden (the first of its kind). Opening on 21 October 1882 with a performance of The Queen’s Lace Handkerchief, the Casino quickly became the major venue for comic opera performances in New York, featuring sumptuously designed performances of the works of J. Strauss, Sullivan, Offenbach, and Millöcker, among others. Though he considered the production inferior to his other work, Aronson’s most successful run at the Casino was Jakobowski’s Erminie (1256 performances). Throughout his career, Aronson maintained strong European connections, managing theater houses abroad and contracting American tours of major European musicians, including Leoncavallo....

Article

Susan Au

[Gennaro, Peter]

(b Staten Island, NY, Jan 14, 1923; d Chicago, Oct 29, 2008). American dancer, choreographer, teacher, and ballet company director. He began to study dance after meeting Robert Joffrey while on military service in Seattle, and continued this study in New York at the School of American Ballet and with the modern dancers May O’Donnell and Gertrude Shurr. He became a founding member of the faculty of Joffrey’s school, the American Dance Center, and of Joffrey’s first dance group, which later became the Joffrey Ballet. He also performed on Broadway and with New York City Opera. After retiring as a performer in 1964, he focused on the choreographic work he had begun in 1961 with the ballet Ropes, to music by Charles Ives. As chief choreographer of the Joffrey Ballet, he created ballets that celebrated the company’s youthful verve and vitality, frequently utilizing scores by American contemporary composers. Among his most popular ballets were ...

Article

Bill C. Malone

revised by Barry Mazor

[Chester Burton ]

(b nr Luttrell, TN, June 20, 1924, d Nashville, TN, June 30, 2001). American country-music guitarist and recording company executive. Although the first instrument he played professionally was the fiddle, he became internationally famous as a guitarist. Developed while he was in high school, his guitar style was influenced by Merle Travis, Les Paul, Django Reinhardt, and George Barnes and was characterized by the use of the thumb to establish a rhythm on the lower strings and multiple fingers to play melodic or improvisational passages on the higher strings, sometimes with complex voicings. In the early 1940s Atkins toured with Archie Campbell and Bill Carlisle playing both fiddle and guitar, and appeared with them on WNOX radio in Knoxville. He then toured with the second generation Carter Family as a sideman and in 1946 joined Red Foley. After beginning his association with the “Grand Ole Opry” he settled in Nashville in ...

Article

Saadalla Agha Al-Kalaa

(b al-Qrayya, Syria, Oct 18, 1915; d Beirut, Dec 26, 1974). Syrian singer, composer, ‘ūd player and film actor and producer. In 1924 political circumstances forced his family to move to Egypt. His mother, the noted singer ‘Aliyya al-Munther, taught him singing in the Syrian style. He studied the ‘ūd (lute) at the Cairo Institute for Arab Music. His professional work began as an ‘ūd player and singer at the national radio station and in Badī ‘a Maṣabnī's variety show saloon.

In 1941, through his sister Asmahān , he entered the cinema industry, and for the rest of his life was involved in films as a composer, singer actor, and producer. His singing of Syrian mawwāl (popular songs), tangos and rumbas achieved great popularity, and his work laid the foundations for Arab variety show films, cinematic operetta, orchestral musical overtures and comic and sad songs. His 31 films are mostly autobiographical and provide valuable insight into the role of the musician in society....

Article

Hans Åstrand and Bo Wallner

(Magnus)

(b Göteborg, Dec 12, 1887; d Stockholm, Feb 15, 1974). Swedish composer, administrator, conductor and critic. He studied the cello at school in Göteborg and then entered the Stockholm College of Technology. Having passed the examination in civil engineering in 1911, he spent his working life (1912–68) in the patent office. He was largely self-taught although he studied composition and instrumentation with Hallén at the Swedish Royal Academy of Music (1910–11), and partly used the state composer’s scholarships he received between 1911 and 1915 to study in Germany (1911 and 1913). He made his début as a conductor at Göteborg in 1912, when the programme included his First Symphony; thereafter (particularly during the 1920s) he often conducted his own music and that of contemporaries, both at home and abroad (where he promoted Swedish music). From 1916 to 1922 he was kapellmästare at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm; he also worked enthusiastically as co-founder and president (...

Article

Anna-Lise P. Santella

[Atwood-Grant, Lizzie Ethel]

(b Fairfield, ME, Sept 12, 1866; d Los Angeles, CA, April 9, 1948). American violinist and co-founder and business manager of the Fadette Ladies’ Orchestra. Atwood, the daughter of a farmer/merchant father and a milliner mother, began violin lessons at age eight in Fairfield, Maine, but moved to Boston as a teenager to further her study. In October 1888 she and Caroline B. Nichols (1864–1939) founded the Fadette Ladies’ Orchestra, which became one of the best-known women’s orchestras in the country. Atwood became the organization’s principal second violin and its first business manager; she played with the Fadettes from 1888 to 1895. In 1895 the Fadettes incorporated, but Atwood copyrighted the group’s name. When Atwood left the Fadettes shortly before her 1896 marriage, she sold the name to Mary Messer, who attempted to use it to start another ladies’ orchestra. Messer sued the Fadettes for continuing to perform under a name she had purchased, but the Massachusetts Supreme Court sided with the Fadettes. Beginning in the 1890s, Atwood also worked as a prompter and was, reportedly, the only woman prompter in the United States. By ...

Article

(b Bourmont-en-Bassigny, Haute-Marne, June 7, 1732; d Paris, May 21, 1801). French impresario, singer and dramatist. He first made his name as a singer with the Opéra-Comique (after about 1758), chiefly in artisan roles; no doubt it was to exploit this special talent that he was allowed to put on an opéra comique of his own, Le tonnelier, after La Fontaine's Le cuvier (Foire St Laurent, 28 September 1761). The work failed but Audinot nevertheless joined the Comédie-Italienne when that company merged with the Opéra-Comique in 1762. Audinot revised the libretto of Le tonnelier with A.-F. Quétant, and the work was revived on 16 March 1765 at the Comédie-Italienne with new ariettes and ensembles by various composers. In this new version it had considerable success in France, Holland and Germany alike. Audinot left the Comédie-Italienne in 1767 and soon became one of the principal impresarios of the Paris stage. After attracting crowds to his puppet show at the Foire St Germain, he opened the Théâtre de l'Ambigu-Comique on ...

Article

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....

Article

Paul R. Laird

[Avedisian, Robert]

(b New York, NY, Dec 26, 1937). American dancer, choreographer, producer, and director. After simultaneous study at Boston University and the Boston School of Ballet, Avian appeared in a touring production of West Side Story. He met MICHAEL BENNETT during the show’s European tour; they became friends and long-time artistic and business partners. Avian was in West Side Story (1960) on Broadway, followed by Funny Girl (1964). He was assistant stage manager for I Do! I Do! (1966), then performed in Henry, Sweet Henry (1967). Avian collaborated with Bennett for two decades on a remarkable succession of shows. He was assistant choreographer to Bennett for Promises, Promises (1968), associate choreographer for Coco (1969), Company (1970), and Follies (1971), and production assistant for the play Twigs (1971), which Bennett directed. Avian served as associate choreographer for ...

Article

Nicholas Tochka

(b Korça, Albania, March 16, 1915; d Tirana, Albania, Nov 18, 1985). Albanian conductor, composer, and arranger. A major organizer and administrator in state-socialist Albania from the 1940s to the 60s, he received his early training from the pre-war choral and theatre groups active in Korça during the late 1920s and 30s. A talented and precocious youth, Avrazi was named assistant music director in the ensemble Korça Youth (Rinia Korçare) in the early 1930s. During World War II, he organized musical performances in support of the antifascist movement in southern Albania, popularizing partisan and nationalist songs and staging short theatrical works for Communist guerrillas beginning in 1943. Following the war, he first organized the Army Choir (Kori i Ushtrisë) before directing the Artistic Ensemble of the People’s Army (Ansambli Artistik i Ushtrisë Popullore), two groups modelled after the grand choral and instrumental ensembles of the Soviet Red Army. These groups served an important function in the late 1940s and early 50s by training Albania’s first socialist generation of musicians. Many young men who became major figures in Albanian music, including Çesk Zadeja, Tish Daija, and Gjon Athanasi, received scholarships to study abroad following their participation in Avrazi’s ensemble. In addition to his role as a conductor, Avrazi also arranged folk songs and composed a number of cantatas, vocal suites, and other choral works. A prolific song composer, he created a number of partisan songs as well as popular tangos, waltzes, and foxtrots during the 1950s and 60s. He retired with the title the Artist of the People....