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Alyn Shipton


(b London, May 28, 1898; d London, Feb 12, 1969). English bandleader, arranger and pianist. He wrote scores for Bert Ralton's band and rapidly became known as one of the most inventive arrangers of his time, blending elements of jazz, symphonic and commercial music within single arrangements. From 1927 he provided several outstanding arrangements for Ambrose's band, introducing a rhythm string section. He joined Roy Fox in 1931. He first led a band in 1932, at the Monseigneur Restaurant, and later formed his own band there with exceptionally good players and the singer Al Bowlly. The band recorded and broadcast regularly. Stone was musical director for British and Dominion Films (1931–5) and the British National Film Company (1936–9), appearing with his band in several films including Bitter Sweet and The Little Damozel. He also played in clubs, theatres, restaurants etc., made recordings and broadcast, latterly with a sextet (...


Ann Sears

(b Kansas City, MO, Dec 3, 1909; d New York, Oct 16, 1987). American pianist and composer. A child prodigy, Suesse studied with Liszt pupil Alexander Ziloti (1927) and composer Rubin Goldmark, and later Nadia Boulanger (1947–50). Her first hit, Syncopated Love Song, was recorded in 1929. She was nicknamed ‘Girl Gershwin’ because of her popular and classical compositions and her pianistic ability. Paul Whiteman featured her Concerto in Three Rhythms at Carnegie Hall in 1932, subsequently introducing her Eight Waltzes for Piano and Orchestra at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1933, and in 1934 Suesse appeared on Gershwin’s radio show. During the 1930s she was a staff writer at various times for Harms, Famous Music Corporation and Robbins Music. She also composed some significant orchestral music. Several American orchestras played her works and recorded a few compositions from 1929 to 1942; some works have been revived during the last decade. She wrote the music for Billy Rose’s revues, ...


Edward Jablonski and Mark Steyn

(b New York, April 19, 1897; d Southington, CT, Jan 28, 1993). American composer, lyricist, author and pianist. Born into a musical family (her father was the music critic Samuel Swift), she began music lessons at the age of seven. She studied the piano with Bertha Tapper and composition with A.E. Johnstone at the Institute of Musical Art (now the Juilliard School), then continued with Charles Loeffler (composition) and Heinrich Gebhard (piano) at the New England Conservatory. She also studied counterpoint and orchestration with Percy Goetschius. On graduation she became a pianist, accompanying singers and instrumentalists, and a member of a trio which toured the northeastern USA.

Swift has two claims to a place in American musical history: first, in the 1920s, among the massed ranks of Tin Pan Alleymen, she (along with the lyricist Dorothy Fields and a few others) was a rare female songwriter; second, as an intimate friend and a fellow composer, she was among George Gershwin’s closest musical confidants apart from his brother Ira. Swift had classical credentials; Gershwin was best known as a song-plugger who had graduated to musical comedy. At one stage, she was writing a fugue a week; he was writing a song a day. She assisted his transition to the concert hall; he led her to Broadway and popular music....


Andrew Lamb

(b Wolverhampton, July 30, 1875; d Stoke-on-Trent, Feb 5, 1922). English composer and accompanist, elder brother of the soprano Maggie Teyte. He gained varied theatrical experience as an actor, in management, and as musical director for the Carl Rosa Opera Company and at Wyndham's Theatre. In 1902 he married the music hall singer Lottie [Charlotte Louisa] Collins (1865–1910) for whom he conducted; in 1912 he married another singer, Clarice Mayne (Clarice Mabel Dulley, 1886–1966), with whom he formed a highly successful music-hall act. He wrote many songs for pantomimes, the music hall and revues, among them I was a good little girl till I met you, A Broken Doll (for André Charlot's revue Samples, 1915) and Give me a little cosy corner. His additional numbers for Fraser-Simson's musical play The Maid of the Mountains (1915), in which his step-daughter José [Josephine] Collins (...



(b St Louis, July 16, 1925; d Manila, Philippines, May 5, 1982). American vibraphone player, percussionist, bandleader, composer and arranger of Swedish descent. Based in San Francisco’s Bay Area throughout his career, he began as a jazz player, playing the drums with the Dave Brubeck Trio (1949–51). In 1953 he joined George Shearing’s jazz quintet as a vibraphone player and percussionist, and the following year left to form his own jazz ensemble with such players as pianist Vince Guaraldi. His virtuosity and infallible sense of phrasing marked him as the greatest jazz vibraphone player since Lionel Hampton. He turned to Latin jazz in the late 1950s, working with percussionists such as Mongo Santamaría, Armando Peraza and Willie Bobo. Tjader became the most famous non-Latino Latin jazz musician and bandleader of the 1950s and 60s, with such hits as Soul Sauce and Mamblues in addition to memorable versions of Dizzy Gillespie’s ...


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...


Deane L. Root

[James; Babcock, Edward Chester]

(b Syracuse, NY, Jan 26, 1913; d Rancho Mirage, CA, Feb 7, 1990). American composer, publisher and pianist. At the age of 16 he became a pianist, singer and announcer for a radio station and adopted his professional name. He then studied singing with Howard Lyman and wrote college shows at Syracuse University. In 1933 he replaced Harold Arlen as composer at the Cotton Club in Harlem, and worked as a pianist and song plugger for Tin Pan Alley publishers, including Remick and Santley Brothers. He had his first songwriting success in 1938 with It’s the dreamer in me (in collaboration with Jimmy Dorsey) and wrote for the bandleader Eddie DeLange before teaming up with the lyricist Johnny Burke in 1939. Together Burke and Van Heusen wrote the songs for 16 of Bing Crosby’s best-known films, including Road to Morocco (1942) and others of the ‘Road to …’ series, and ...


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....


(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 ...


(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 ...