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Andrew Lamb

[Faster, Otto]

(b Hamburg, Feb 16, 1854; d Hamburg, Jan 11, 1931). German conductor and composer. The son of a journalist, he was educated in Hamburg and studied music with August Herzog (1870–72). He began a career in business, but from 1880 was active as conductor and composer of waltzes, polkas, and other dances and marches. His waltz ...

Article

John Snelson

[Stansfield, Grace]

(b Rochdale, June 9, 1898; d Capri, Sept 27, 1979). English singer. As a child she appeared in music hall and then toured with revue before appearing in London at the Middlesex Music Hall (1915). She had her first major success in the long-running Mr. Tower of London (1918–25) alongside the comedian Archie Pitt, who also became her first husband in 1923. After a single straight acting role as Lady Weir in SOS (1928) she returned to revue, made the first of many appearances at Royal Variety performances, and in 1930 successfully launched her career in America. During the 1930s she consolidated her position as one of the highest earning performers in the world with stage appearances, tours and recordings. Through her 16 films (1931–46), particularly those of the 1930s, her public persona was set as a working class ‘Lancashire lass’, optimistic and generous of heart. The song ‘Sally’ (...

Article

(b London, Nov 4, 1872; d London, April 21, 1939). British conductor and composer. He first studied with his father, a Dutch immigrant who, as Louis von der Finck, was a theatre violinist, conductor and composer in London. Herman Finck began to play the violin in theatre orchestras at 14, studied with Henry Gadsby, entered the Guildhall School of Music at 16 (his compositions there included violin sonatas) and learnt theatre orchestration from Edward Solomon. At the Palace Theatre of Varieties Finck was a pianist and violinist (from 1892), a leader and sub-conductor to Alfred Plumpton (from 1896) and a conductor (from 1900). In 1919 he moved to the Queen’s Theatre, and in 1922–31 was musical director at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, where he conducted the London premières of romantic musicals such as Rudolf Friml’s Rose Marie. From 1933 he conducted the Sunday night concerts at Southport. His memoirs were published in ...

Article

Lise Waxer

(b Naguabo, March 9, 1894; d Puerto Rico, July 13, 1979). Puerto Rican bandleader and composer. He was a schoolteacher in his native Puerto Rico, then moved to New York City in 1926, when small trios and quartets were forming on its Latin music scene to perform romantic boleros and other Cuban genres such as son and guaracha. In 1928, despite no prior musical training, Flores established his own group, the Cuarteto Flores which, through the 1930s, became internationally famous, with vocalists such as Davilita, Alfredito Valdes, Chenco Moraza and Daniel Santos. Flores was a prolific composer, writing such classics as Obsesión, Amor perdido, Perdón, Irresistible, Despedida, Bajo un palmar, Toma jabon pa’que laves and the patriotic Sin bandera. His arrangements were strongly influenced by the predominant Cuban style of the day, with heavy percussion and catchy riffs. While Flores lacked the skills and sophisticated compositional style of his contemporary and life-long rival Rafael Hernández, his songs had a broad appeal among working-class Latin Americans for their depictions of everyday life and ordinary people. See also R. Glasser: ...

Article

Arnold Shaw

[Franconero, Constance]

(b Newark, NJ, Dec 12, 1938). American singer and actress. She began her career at the age of 12, appearing on the television programme ‘Startime’. She won her first gold record in 1958 with a revival of the 1923 ballad Who’s Sorry Now, and had further successes with a series of such songs, including ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Cloonyquin, Co. Roscommon, May 1, 1854; d Formby, Jan 24, 1920). Irish singer and songwriter. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin (1872–80), and had a career in engineering, but in 1890 turned to writing and performing. His shows included story-telling, humorous sketching and singing, sometimes accompanied on the banjo. He moved to London in about 1900, and performed throughout Britain as well as on the Continent and in North America. One of French’s first songs was Abdulla Bulbul Ameer (1877), which became widely popular in a pirated edition (he had failed to register the copyright). His numerous Irish comic ballads include Phil the Fluther’s Ball (1889), Slathery’s Mounted Fut (1889), Mat Hannigan’s Aunt (1892), Are ye right there, Michael? (1902) and Come back, Paddy Reilly (1912). He wrote the words to several other songs, including ...

Article

Gerald Bordman

revised by William A. Everett and Deane L. Root

(b Prague, Dec 7, 1879; d Los Angeles, Nov 12, 1972). American composer and pianist of Czech birth. He won a scholarship to the Prague Conservatory and studied composition with Dvořák and piano with Josef Jiránek. He began composing light concert pieces as soon as he graduated, but also accepted a position as accompanist for the violinist Jan Kubelík in order to support himself. He toured Europe and made two visits with Kubelík to the USA, where he decided to settle in 1906. In that year he performed his First Piano Concerto with Walter Damrosch and the New York SO and gave recitals throughout the country, quickly achieving a reputation for his imaginative improvisation. He also continued to compose both concert pieces and lighter music, often under the pseudonym Roderick Freeman.

In 1912 Victor Herbert, who had quarreled with Emma Trentini, the leading lady of his Naughty Marietta...

Article

J.G. Prod’homme

revised by Andrew Lamb

(b Buxières-les-Mines, April 5, 1862; d Paris, July 14, 1923). French composer and conductor. He was a pupil of Dubois and Franck at the Conservatoire, where he won a first prize in harmony and an organ prize. He made his début as a composer with a ballet-divertissement, Les sources du Nil, given in 1882 at the Folies Bergère (the first of several given there or at the Casino de Paris). His most important ballet is Phryné; he also composed several operettas, notably Les saltimbanques (Paris, 1899) and Hans, le joueur de flûte (Monte Carlo, 1906). Ganne conducted the orchestra for the balls at the Opéra, and was for many years musical director at the casino at Monte Carlo. He wrote more than 200 works, including songs, salon pieces and some excellent dance tunes such as the Valse des blondes and the mazurkas La czarine and La tzigane...

Article

Patrick O’Connor

[Gumm, Frances Ethel]

(b Grand Rapids, MN, June 10, 1922; d London, June 22, 1969). American popular singer and actress. With her elder sisters, Virginia and Suzy, she became one of the Gumm sisters, making her vaudeville début at the age of three. Her father was a cinema and theatre owner-manager who eventually settled in California. At first she took the stage name Frances Garland, but after a period studying at a theatre school in Los Angeles, she became Judy Garland, billed as ‘the little girl with the great big voice’. She appeared in her first film in 1929 (The Meglin Kiddlie Revue), and in 1934 after a meeting with the composer Harry Akst she auditioned for Louis B. Mayer at MGM and was put under contract. She made several successful films including Broadway Melody of 1938, in which she sang ‘You made me love you’, before gaining stardom in ...

Article

Rodolfo Celletti, Valeria Pregliasco Gualerzi and Jonas Westover

(b Barcelona, Spain, June 13, 1879; d New York, NY, July 29, 1943). Spanish mezzo-soprano. She originally studied sculpture, but a suggestion from a family friend turned her interests to piano. A famous story tells of the 16-year-old her being arrested for singing nationalist songs in Barcelona and continuing to sing them in during a jail sentence that interrupted her studies in music. Gay studied with Juan Gay Planella, her first husband, and then in Paris with Ada Adini. She sang in concerts in Brussels with Eugène Ysaÿe, and in 1902 appeared there at the Théâtre de la Monnaie as Carmen. Until the late 1920s she performed at the world’s leading opera houses, including Madrid, Covent Garden, La Scala, the Metropolitan, and Chicago, where she sang regularly between 1910 and 1927. She also appeared throughout South America. Gay was a mainstay of the Boston Opera Company and its short-lived successor (...