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Digby Fairweather

revised by Alyn Shipton

(b Great Lever, nr Bolton, July 2, 1892; d London, Jan 29, 1965). English bandleader, pianist and impresario. He worked as the director of a touring pantomime company (1909), as a cinema organist in London (1913) and as a freelance musician in various clubs. After military service he was appointed relief pianist for the dance band of the Queen’s Hall Roof; later he became this group’s arranger and director. Hylton made a number of recordings for HMV (from 1921), of which the early example Wang-Wang Blues (1921) is representative. He performed at various venues, including the Grafton Galleries, Piccadilly Hotel (1922–3), before enlarging his band to full orchestra size for a highly successful residency at the Alhambra Theatre (1924). In 1925 he set up a booking agency. During the late 1920s his orchestra became the English equivalent of Paul Whiteman’s show band and achieved huge commercial success. Between ...

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Romeo Ghircoiaşiu

(b ?1845; d Bucharest, Sept 28, 1902). Romanian composer and conductor. He studied in Galaţi with Alois Riedl and in Iaşi with Emil Lehr, and became director of the military bands of Galaţi and Bucharest. He composed fanfares, marches, waltzes and potpourris of folk melodies, and in 1889 was awarded a composition prize at the International Exhibition in Paris. His piano and vocal pieces became popular at the soirées of the day, and his fanfare Valurile Dunării (‘The Danube waves’), also arranged for piano, has become widely known.

Article

(b Webster Groves, MO, May 12, 1910; d Malibu, CA, April 24, 1984). American arranger, composer and conductor. He played the cinema organ and piano before joining a radio station in St Louis. In 1936 he began arranging for the Isham Jones dance orchestra and then composed and arranged for Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Lennie Hayton and André Kostelanetz. After a brief spell conducting on Broadway he moved to California (1936) to work for Paramount, and later became a musical director and performer for NBC’s Hollywood network (1938–44). He returned to New York in 1949. He is best known for his light orchestral music such as the mood suites Seven Dreams and Manhattan Tower, and conducted his own light orchestra from the mid-1940s to early 50s. He arranged for many popular singers, most notably for Frank Sinatra with the song It was a very good year...

Article

Gerard Béhague

(Brasileiro de Almeida)

(b Rio de Janeiro, Jan 25, 1927; d New York, Dec 8, 1994). Brazilian composer, pianist, guitarist and arranger. In his early teens he took piano lessons from Koellreutter and later from Branco and Tomás Terán, and also studied orchestration, harmony and composition. In the mid-1940s he began to work as a pianist in the bars and nightclubs of Rio's beach areas of Copacabana and Ipanema. In 1952 he worked as an arranger for the recording firm Continental and his first recorded pieces appeared in the following year. He became the artistic director for the Odeon label in 1956 and began a lifelong association with the poet Vinicius de Morais, composing and conducting the music for the play Orfeu da Conceição.

In 1959 the aesthetic manifesto of the bossa nova was famously presented on João Gilberto's album Chega de Saudade, which included Jobim's song Desafinado, with lyrics by Newton Mendonça, and Jobim's ...

Article

Howard Goldstein

[Yoelson, Asa]

(b Srednice [now Seredzius], Lithuania, ? May 26, 1886; d San Francisco, Oct 23, 1950). American popular singer. Jolson’s father, Moshe, was a rabbi and cantor who emigrated to Washington, DC, in 1890. His family arrived in 1894, and soon after this the young Al began appearing in burlesques and vaudeville in various partnerships that often included his older brother Harry (1882–1953). By 1906 he was performing as a vaudeville single and in 1908 he joined Lew Dockstader’s Minstrels. Since 1904 Jolson’s act had included the performance of coon songs and comedic banter in blackface. These were incorporated into his first Broadway appearance in La Belle Paree (1911), a revue produced by the Shubert Brothers at their newly opened Winter Garden Theatre. Jolson would make the Winter Garden his Broadway home until 1925; by then, he had been billed as ‘the world’s greatest entertainer’ for almost ten years, a sobriquet earned through countless national tours and concert appearances....

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

(b Charleroi, PA, Mar 31, 1934). American actress and singer. Her career as a singing actress on film and television began with starring roles in two Rodgers and Hammerstein film adaptations: Laurie Williams in Oklahoma! (1955) and Julie Jordan in Carousel (1956). Subsequent films included April Love (1957), Never Steal Anything Small (1959), Elmer Gantry (1960) and Two Rode Together (1961). She won an Academy Award as best supporting actress for her portrayal of a prostitute in Elmer Gantry, but it was the wholesome ‘girl next door’ which was the typical Jones character. In 1962, she played prim and proper librarian, Marian, in The Music Man opposite Robert Preston. From 1970 to 1974, she co-starred in the television series ‘The Partridge Family’ with her stepson, the singer and actor David Cassidy, in which she portrayed the widowed mother of a singing family, thus having the weekly opportunity to showcase her vocal abilities, albeit in a soft rock idiom somewhat distinctive from the Broadway style which established her career. She has continued to perform into the 1990s and is still in great demand....

Article

Philip L. Scowcroft

(b London, May 25, 1873; d Sutton, Surrey, March 22, 1963). English composer and conductor. The son of a bandsman in the Grenadier Guards, he became involved with dance bands after experience in the theatre. By 1900 he had formed his own band, touring the country and performing in great houses and hotels for receptions and garden parties. For these Joyce composed ‘medley’ waltzes on contemporary popular tunes, and subsequently original compositions. He aimed at a smoother, dreamier type of dance than the Viennese waltz, which was still in vogue: many of the titles of his waltzes include the word ‘dream’. Dreaming, which sold a milion copies in ten years, has been recorded some 40 times and became his most celebrated piece.

Other works have sentimental titles reflecting the gentle Edwardian style which he continued to exemplify until after World War II. His Caravan suite draws upon the colour of the East, whilst his ‘waltz-militaire’ ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(Karl)

(b Oberdorf, nr Treffen, April 9, 1895; d Klagenfurt, Sept 2, 1955). Austrian composer, conductor and pianist. The son of a doctor, he was educated in Villach and then studied law at Graz University. After serving as an artillery officer during World War I he studied at the Vienna Music Academy under Joseph Marx, Ferdinand Löwe, Eusebius Mandyczewski and Clemens Krauss. In 1923 he became the conductor of the opera school there, and from 1928 to 1934 was the musical director at the Innsbruck music school. His early compositions were mostly orchestral and chamber works; from 1934 he lived in Germany and Switzerland, and after his marriage to the operetta singer Trude Kollin began composing operettas, through which he gained his widest fame. In 1939 he returned to Austria, devoting himself to composition and performing his music as conductor and pianist. His operettas are traditional in style, reflecting in their effective vocal writing and classical orchestral writing Kattnigg's thorough musical training. His other compositions include two symphonies, a piano concerto, chamber and vocal works....

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

[Leek, Harold Clifford]

(b Gillespie, IL, April 13, 1917; d Palm Desert, CA, Nov 7, 2004). American singer and actor. Known primarily for his starring roles in MGM musicals from the 1950s, Keel began his career as a singer on Broadway and in the West End. His Broadway début was as Billy Bigelow in Carousel, succeeding John Raitt in the role. He subsequently played Curly McLain in Oklahoma! in both New York and London. Other stage roles included Clint Maroon in Saratoga and David Jordan in No Strings. His film début was in the English motion picture The Small Voice (1948), and it was his performance in Annie Get Your Gun (1950) which established his career in Hollywood. Subsequent credits included Pagan Love Song (1950), Show Boat (1951), Lovely to Look At (1952), Calamity Jane (1953), Kiss Me, Kate...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(Albrecht Pál) [Keler, Adalbert Paul von]

(b Bártfa, Hungary [now Bardejov, Slovakia], Feb 13, 1820; d Wiesbaden, Nov 20, 1882). Hungarian conductor and composer. As a patriotic Hungarian he used the Hungarian form of his name with surname first. He was at first a law student and then for four years a farmer before he took up music seriously, teaching himself theory from the writings of Albrechtsberger. After a spell as theatre violinist in Eperjes (Prešov), he moved to Vienna in 1845, taking a place as first violin in the orchestra of the Theater an der Wien and studying further with Simon Sechter. In 1854 he took over Gungl's orchestra in Berlin for a time and in 1855 that of August Lanner in Vienna on the latter's death; in 1856 he became bandmaster of the 10th Austrian Infantry Regiment. In 1860 he started an orchestra in Budapest, but this failed and from 1863 to 1870...

Article

Philip L. Scowcroft

(b Birmingham, Aug 9, 1875; d Cowes, Nov 26, 1959). English composer and conductor. He showed musical promise from an early age and went to Trinity College, London, when he was 13. He became a professional pianist, at 16 was organist of St John, Wimbledon, and was also apparently proficient on the cello, clarinet, oboe and french horn. In his early twenties he toured as a musical director of a light opera company, and at 22 became the musical director at the Vaudeville Theatre; composition and, later, recording for Columbia remained his main professional interests. His student compositions at Trinity College and for some time afterwards (a piano and wind quintet, a string quartet and the Concertstück for piano and orchestra) were probably in a classical vein. His first major light music success was The Phantom Melody, for cello and piano, which won a prize in 1912 offered by the cellist August van Biene for a piece to complement his own popular ...

Article

Philip L. Scowcroft

(Claude McMahon)

(b Hampstead, Oct 5, 1904; d South Anston, S. Yorks, Aug 31, 1991). English composer and pianist. He trained at the RAM and appeared in the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts as a pianist, but his career, as performer and composer, was mostly in light music. He formed orchestras to play in Swan & Edgar's West End restaurant, on the BBC (1929–64) and, after World War II, at Whitby and Bridlington. King retired in the mid-1960s, perhaps feeling his style of music to be old-fashioned, but continued to compose, mainly for solo piano, up to his death. Many of his popular genre pieces, including his signature tune Song of Paradise, were originally written and published for piano then later orchestrated, sometimes by others. King also composed considerably for orchestra: suites (reminiscent of Coates in their titles, if rather less vigorous), marches and intermezzos. His overture The Immortals...

Article

Michael J. Budds

(b North, SC, Jan 26, 1928; d Connecticut, Dec 25, 2008). American popular singer and actress. The daughter of a black American sharecropper, she lived from the age of eight in New York, in a culturally heterogeneous area of Harlem. There she developed her talents, studying dance at the High School for Performing Arts, singing in church, taking piano lessons and learning the languages of her neighbours. At the age of 16 she won a scholarship to study dance with Katherine Dunham, who selected her soon afterwards for a dance troupe to tour South America and Europe. On tour Kitt’s singing abilities were discovered; she was taught ethnic songs for the productions and began to sing more frequently. In 1950 she left the company in Paris to pursue a career as a cabaret singer, and her dramatic song interpretations, multilingual repertory and exotic beauty won her instantaneous success with European night-club audiences. Her performance in Orson Welles’s ...

Article

Paul Christiansen

(b Netěchovice, nr České Budějovice, Nov 4, 1823; d Netěchovice, March 19, 1893). Czech conductor, bandmaster and composer , father of Karel Komzák. He spent his youth in Koloděje, Weittertschlag and Český Krumlov, then studied at the Prague Organ School (1839–40) before completing a teacher’s course at the College of St Jindřich in Prague (1841–2), during which time he was supported by Tomášek. He became a teacher and organist in Koloděje (1842–7), and later a clerk and organist at an institute for the mentally insane in Prague and organist at the church of St Kateřina (1847–66). At the same time he directed a rifle corps band (1847–65). Komzák achieved his greatest fame through the orchestra which he founded and conducted in Prague (1854–65), and in which Dvořák played viola. After playing for the Prague Provisional Theatre from ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Schönfeld [now Krásno], July 3, 1802; d Karlsbad [now Karlovy Vary], Aug 19, 1881). Bohemian violinist, conductor and composer. He was the son of a weaver, who in 1800 moved from Kampern in Prussian Silesia to Schönfeld and in 1802 to Petschau (now Bečov nad Teplou). He studied with Karl Veit and at the age of 14 joined a travelling orchestra in Petschau. In 1820 he obtained a position as violinist in the spa orchestra at Marienbad (now Mariánské Lázně), taking other jobs during the winter months. He played in Munich (1823–4), where he took further violin lessons, and undertook a concert tour of southern Germany, visiting Regensburg, Augsburg, Ulm, Stuttgart, Würzburg and Nuremberg. In 1825 he founded his own orchestra, visiting Vienna in the winter of 1825–6 and Warsaw in 1829–30. In 1835 he became conductor of the spa orchestra at Karlsbad, where he rapidly built up a reputation for himself and his orchestra. His dance compositions began to have widespread popularity, particularly the ...

Article

Larry Stempel

(b New York, Feb 2, 1912; d New York, Jan 5, 1997). American songwriter. At the age of 15 he was engaged as a pianist-songwriter by the music publishers Remick & Co., serving an apprenticeship that prepared him for a songwriting career on Broadway and in Hollywood, during which he collaborated with such noted lyricists as Loesser, E.Y. Harburg and Lerner. His earliest compositions were songs for musical stage revues including Three’s a Crowd (1930), The Third Little Show (1931) and Earl Carroll Vanities (1931). From 1933 to 1954 he lived in California where he wrote songs for approximately 30 films, including ‘Everything I Have is Yours’ (Dancing Lady, 1933), ‘How About You’ (Babes on Broadway, 1941) and ‘Too Late Now’ (Royal Wedding, 1951). During this period he also returned to work on Broadway, providing scores for ...

Article

David Ades

(Maris Colman) [Colman, Gordon Maris]

(b Edgware, May 11, 1930). English arranger, composer and pianist. He was an accomplished pianist from childhood, playing a Mozart concerto in a public concert at the age of 11, and winning a Middlesex scholarship to the RAM where he also studied trombone. Early attempts at composition were influenced by Debussy and Ravel, and later by the Russian Romantics, Rachmaninoff and Skryabin. His first BBC broadcast as a pianist was in 1951 while serving with the Royal Artillery Band. By the 1960s, after a variety of engagements as both player and arranger, Langford had established himself as a respected pianist in concerts and on numerous broadcasts such as ‘Music in the Air’ and ‘Friday Night is Music Night’. His reputation as an arranger and composer also grew steadily.

In 1971 he won an Ivor Novello Award for his march from the Colour Suite, and became more involved in brass band music. At the same time he was increasingly in demand to orchestrate West End musicals and feature films, and also contributed mood music to publishers' recorded music libraries. He has written many arrangements for the King's Singers and the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. In ...

Article

Howard Goldstein

(Brigid)

(b London, Oct 16, 1925). English actress and singer. Her grandfather was George Lansbury, leader of Britain’s Labour Party, and her mother was the actress Moyna McGill. She began her dramatic and musical training at London’s Webber-Douglas School. During World War II the widowed McGill moved her family to New York, where Lansbury completed her studies at the Feagin School. She then moved to Hollywood, and was signed as a contract player at MGM. Her first film, Gaslight (1944), earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. For the next 20 years she played character roles in films and on television, usually portraying older, bitter women, most notably in The Manchurian Candidate (1962). After playing straight dramatic roles on Broadway beginning in 1957, she appeared in the critically panned musical Anyone Can Whistle (1964) by Sondheim. The title role in Herman’s ...

Article

Jean W. Thomas

[Cocozza, Alfred Arnold ]

(b Philadelphia, Jan 31, 1921; d Rome, Italy, Oct 7, 1959). American tenor. He first studied singing while working as a piano mover in Philadelphia and in 1942 was awarded a summer scholarship at the Berkshire Music Center. Shortly afterwards he entered the Special Services of the armed forces and sang regularly for military radio shows during World War II. After his discharge he made a series of concert appearances, including a performance at the Hollywood Bowl in 1946. His first film role in That Midnight Kiss (1949) brought him immediate national recognition and fame. He subsequently made six further films, including The Great Caruso (1951) and The Toast of New Orleans (1950), in which he sang his greatest hit, Be my love (Brodszky and Cahn). Although he possessed a voice of great power and range, Lanza sang in only one opera, Puccini’s ...

Article

Deane L. Root

(Maclennan)

(b Portobello, nr Edinburgh, Aug 4, 1870; d Strathaven, Feb 26, 1950). Scottish baritone music-hall singer and composer. As a young man he won prizes at local singing contests and gained attention at concert parties, and after deciding to become a professional entertainer in 1894 he toured Scotland with the violinist Mackenzie Murdoch.

Lauder’s most successful years as a singer coincided with the most popular years of the music hall, between 1900 and World War I. During this time he became known not only in the best London music halls but also, through concert tours, in Europe and North America. During both world wars he was an ardent recruiter, and was knighted for his efforts (1919). He performed at Buckingham Palace and for several American presidents. Later he made many gramophone recordings for the Victor label.

Lauder’s stage personality was a stereotyped Scotsman, with a kilt and a generalized brogue. He often included an interlude of patter before the final verse of a song, sometimes ending with a jolly laugh; he preferred the sentimental appeal of love-songs and images of his home country, and usually ended his performances in a serious vein with ...