(b Bedford, 1/July 15, 1802; d Leckhampton, April 16, 1890). English composer. E.F. Rimbault (Obituary, MT, xxxi, 1890, p.285) is alone in giving his date of birth as 1 July 1802. Barnett's father, Bernhard Beer, was a Prussian diamond merchant of Jewish extraction who is said to have been a cousin of Meyerbeer; on settling in England he changed his surname to Barnett. His mother, a Hungarian, died while he was a child. As a small boy John ‘sang like a bird’; in later childhood his fine alto voice attracted much attention. At the age of 11 he was articled to S.J. Arnold, proprietor of the Lyceum Theatre, London, making his first stage appearance in The Shipwreck on 22 July 1813, and he continued to sing on the stage until 1818. He studied the piano with Ries, Pérez and Kalkbrenner, and composition with William Horsley and C.E. Horn....
Nicholas Temperley and Nigel Burton
(b London, Aug 1, 1930; d Hammersmith, April 3, 1999). English composer, lyricist and librettist of Austrian-Jewish descent. He studied at St Martin's School of Art and then became a graphic artist and scene painter. In the mid-1950s, as a member of the skiffle group the Cavemen, he wrote songs for its lead singer Tommy Steele, and also for Cliff Richard and Billy Fury. His subsequent songs for films starring Steele and Richard produced several hit numbers including Living Doll and Little White Bull. He worked on musicals for Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop at Stratford East, from where Fings Ain't Wot They Used t' Be, with lyrics inspired by cast improvisations, transferred to become his first West End success. In Oliver! (1960) he combined a Jewish modality (‘Who will buy?’, ‘You've got to pick a pocket or two’ and ‘Reviewing the Situation’), music hall (‘Consider Yourself’), overt sentiment (‘Where is love?’, ‘As long as he needs me’) and comic word play (‘That's your funeral’) to produce one of the most successful of all British musicals. The spectacular ...
(b Livorno, Nov 29, 1818; d Florence, Nov 25, 1885). Italian music critic. Brought up in a wealthy Jewish family, he embarked simultaneously on classical and musical studies. He graduated in medicine from Pisa University and studied composition under Pietro Romani, having an opera performed in Florence in 1840 and another in 1847. Both were unsuccessful with the general public, although praised by some connoisseurs. Giving up composition, he soon became a prominent figure in Florentine cultural life as a critic and organizer. He founded and edited the journal L'armonia (1856–9). Through him began the Mattinate Beethoveniane, a series of concerts from which derived the Società del Quartetto di Firenze (1861), whose journal Boccherini (1862–82) he also edited, as well as a cycle of concerts of dramatic music (1865) dedicated to classic Italian opera composers such as Sacchini and Spontini, then largely forgotten. In ...
David P. McAllester
Rattle consisting of small pieces of flint of ritually prescribed shapes and colours used by the Navajo people of the southwestern USA to accompany songs in the Flintway ceremony. The flints are cupped in both hands and shaken to produce a jingling sound. They symbolize the restoration of fractured or dislocated bones as well as the renewal of vitality in general....
(b Munich, Oct 1, 1897; d Tel-Aviv, Jan 14, 1984). Israeli composer of German birth. After serving in World War I, he graduated from the Munich Academy of Music (1920) where his teachers included Friedrich Klose (composition). He went on to hold the posts of choral director and vocal coach at the Bayerisches Staatstheater under Bruno Walter and, in 1924, became Kapellmeister of the Augsburg Opera. He was also active as a pianist. His early compositions, written during these years, include the String Trio (1927), which demonstrates his fondness for stylistic pluralism in its juxtaposition of extreme chromaticism and jazzy rhythms, and works that display the influence of Orientalism ( Pan , 1931) and neo-classicism (Concerto grosso, 1931). His friendship with the Jewish composer and organist Heinrich Schalit (1886–1976) led to the composition of a number of a cappella motets on biblical texts, culminating in a setting of Psalm cxxvi ‘Wenn der Herr’ (...
(b Jerusalem, Jan 22, 1954). Israeli composer. He studied composition at the Guildhall School in London (1978–9), with Mark Kopytman at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem (graduated 1983), and with George Crumb and Richard Wernick at the University of Pennsylvania (PhD, 1987). Since 1987 he has been teaching at the Rubin Academy. He was the chairman of the Israeli Composers' League (1994–5).
His compositions tend to amalgamate different styles, for example aleatory means and proportional notation in Rubaiyat (1982) and atonal, extreme chromaticism with heterophony in the Sinfonia cromatica (1993). In the latter, each of the three movements represents a family of colours (magenta, aquamarine and white light) and the chromatic scale is developed as an important motif. In the Elegy for Anna Frank he uses a metalphone, an instrument of his own invention made of 11 gongs of different sizes, to evoke the sound of a railway. Ben-Shabetai's compositions have been performed in Europe and in the USA....
(b Termakhovka, Kiev Province, Dec 28, 1892; d Kiev, Aug 12, 1961). Ukrainian ethnomusicologist. From 1915 to 1920 he studied composition at the Kiev Conservatory with Yavorsky; he also led choirs and taught music in Jewish schools. He continued his composition studies at the Petrograd Conservatory with Steinberg (1922–4) and from 1927 he concentrated on the methodology of folklore studies with Kvitka at the musical ethnography department of the Ukrainian SSR Academy of Sciences in Kiev. From 1929 to 1949 he headed the department for musical folklore at the Institute of Jewish Proletarian Culture of the academy (in 1936 the Institute was reduced to the Cabinet of the study of the Jewish language, literature and folklore; in 1949 it was liquidated). He undertook numerous expeditions to transcribe Jewish musical folklore (1200 recorded cylinders, 4000 transcriptions), and he collected and transcribed Ukrainian, and later Bashkir folklore material. He also taught at the Kiev Conservatory (...
revised by Thomas S. Hischak
(b Mogilyov, May 11, 1888; d New York, Sept 22, 1989). American composer of Russian birth. The son of an impoverished Jewish cantor, he was taken to America at the age of five. His father died when he was 13, and a year later he ran away from home, rather than be a burden to his mother. He sang for pennies outside cabarets, became a chorus boy, a stooge in vaudeville, a song plugger and a singing waiter. Berlin had no formal musical training, but taught himself to play the piano, if only in one key, F♯. He began churning out songs, usually serving as his own lyricist, and finally caught America’s ear with Alexander’s Ragtime Band in 1911.
Berlin had three phenomenally successful careers: he was one of Broadway’s most melodic composers, he scored some of Hollywood’s most beloved film musicals, and he was a Tin Pan Alley songwriter with more singles hits than any other composer. It was as a Tin Pan Alley composer that he found early success, but throughout his life he wrote many songs outside the context of a show or film. Among his popular hits were ...