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Deane L. Root

[Klasen, Gertrud Alexandra Dagmar Lawrence ]

(b London, July 4, 1898; d New York, Sept 6, 1952). English actress, singer and dancer. She was a child performer in pantomime and musicals and from 1916 appeared in revue in London. She introduced ‘Parisian Pierrot’ by her lifelong friend Noël Coward in his revue London Calling (1923), and her New York début in the London show André Charlot’s Revue of 1924 (in which she sang ‘Limehouse Blues’) brought her immediately to the attention of leading American songwriters; her first successful song was You were meant for me by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake. George and Ira Gershwin wrote the musicals Oh, Kay! (1926, including ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’) and Treasure Girl (1928) for her. Lawrence also performed spoken drama in both England and the USA, notably Private Lives (1930) with Noël Coward, but in 1933 appeared on Broadway in Porter’s ...

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(b London, July 10, 1900; d London, Feb 17, 1996). English soprano. She first appeared as Nancy Ping in Mr Wu (Brighton, 1915) and made her London début at the Gaiety in The Beauty Spot (1918). In the 1920s she played the title roles in such shows as Die lustige Witwe (1923), Madame Pompadour (1924), Die Dollarprinzessin (1925), Betty in Mayfair (1926), Lilac Time (1928) and The New Moon (1929). The role of Sari Linden in Coward’s Bitter Sweet was written for her and, although she did not create the role, she introduced it to Broadway to great acclaim in 1929. Her films included The Night is Young (1936), in which she introduced Romberg’s ‘When I Grow Too Old to Dream’. After touring for most of the 1940s and early 50s she returned to the West End in the long-running ...

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Paul Webb

[Moule, Ruby]

(b London, June 18, 1920; d London, March 15, 1992). English soprano. She secured the role of understudy to Jessica James, who was playing Maria Ziegler in Ivor Novello’s The Dancing Years at the London Casino in 1947. When James injured her throat, Lee sang the role from the wings, her voice convincing Novello to write his next show for her (King’s Rhapsody, 1949). Her crystal-clear soprano voice, shown to best effect in ‘Someday my heart will awake’ from that show, combined with her film-star looks gave her instant public success. Her stage name was coined by Novello who, having invented the stage name of Vivien Leigh, decided to stay with the same initials. Novello also paid for cosmetic surgery to reduce the size of her nose, and there was mixed opinion as to whether this had adversely affected her singing voice. Had Novello not died during the run of ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(Christian)

(b Komáron, Hungary, April 30, 1870; d Bad Ischl, Oct 24, 1948). Austro-Hungarian composer and conductor. He was the leading operetta composer of the 20th century, being primarily responsible for giving the genre renewed vitality. His most successful operetta, Die lustige Witwe, has established a lasting place in the opera as well as the operetta repertory and, along with Offenbach and Johann Strauss II, Lehár has remained one of the most popular composers of light music.

The family came originally from the eastern Sudetenland. Lehár’s father, also Franz (1838–98), received his music education in Sternberg (now Šternberg), played the horn in the orchestra of the Theater an der Wien, and was for nearly 40 years a military bandmaster and composer of dances and marches. In 1869 he married the Hungarian Christine Neubrandt, and in the following years they moved between various Hungarian garrison towns. The mother-tongue of their offspring was Hungarian and the family name acquired the accent to indicate a long vowel (the stress being on the first syllable). In ...

Article

George Gelles

(b Pittsburgh, Dec 27, 1906; d Beverly Hills, CA, Aug 14, 1972). American pianist, composer and writer. After training with local teachers in Pittsburgh he moved to New York, where he studied with the pianist Sigismund Stojowski; later he briefly studied composition with Schoenberg. He was active as a pianist with jazz bands and as a composer of popular songs such as Lady, play your mandolin (1930, lyricist: I. Caesar) and Blame it on my youth (1934, lyricist: E. Heyman). His works for the Broadway stage brought his talents to the attention of Hollywood, and after moving to the West Coast he wrote the scores for several films, including Street Girl and Tanned Legs. Levant also appeared in many films both as actor and musician, including Rhythm on the River (1941), The Barkleys of Broadway (1948) and The Band Wagon (1953...

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Martha Woodward

[Liberace, Wladziu Valentino; Liberace, Walter]

(b West Allis, WI, May 16, 1919; d Palm Springs, CA, Feb 4, 1987). American pianist and entertainer. He studied with Florence Bettray Kelly in Milwaukee and, by the age of 14, was playing with a trio in an ice-cream parlour. He made his début at the age of 17 at the Society of Musical Arts, Milwaukee, and appeared as soloist with the Chicago SO on 15 January 1940 playing Liszt’s Piano Concerto no.2. He went to New York in 1940 and performed in night clubs, at first adopting the pseudonym Walter Busterkeys, but later using only the name Liberace. He toured with United Service Organization shows and in 1952 made the first of a series of television programmes which, by the time the series ended in 1956, were being shown weekly throughout the USA and Canada. By the mid-1950s Liberace’s recordings had become bestsellers, and his concerts in Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden were given before capacity audiences. He created a glamorous stage persona and wore gorgeous outfits that glittered in the cunningly planned stage light (always including candles in one or more candelabra on the piano; his championship of the virtues of family, religion and patriotism, although genuine, added to the sentimentality of much of his material. His programmes included arrangements of classical and popular works designed to show off his keyboard technique, with extensive use of elaborate chromatic harmonies and decorative arpeggios. His own compositions include ...

Article

Daniele Buccio

(Henry )

(b Canton, OH, Aug 18, 1905; d West Redding, CT, July 31, 1978). American composer, violinist, bandleader, recording engineer, and producer. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, he performed as a light classical violinist in the United States and Europe. During the 1930s he studied conducting with Maurice Frigara in Paris. After a near-fatal car accident in 1940, he organized his own dance band, the Light Brigade, which recorded for RCA and Columbia. After he disbanded it at the turn of the decade, Light devoted himself to management, working for several record companies before becoming president of Waldorf Music Hall Records in 1954. He founded his own label, Grand Award, in 1956 and had success with Dixieland and honky-tonk piano albums. In 1959, he founded Command Records on which he released Persuasive Percussion, the first in a successful series of high-fidelity albums that used stereo technology to great advantage. Over the next two decades, he continued to produce hit albums drawing on the latest technological savvy and packaged with covers usually designed by Josef Albers. Musicians who appeared on Light’s albums include the Free Design, Doc Severinsen, Dick Hyman, Bobby Byrne, and Bobby Hackett. In ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Berlin, Nov 7, 1866; d Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Harz, Sept 3, 1946). German composer and conductor. He studied with Rudolf Kleinow in Wittenberge (1880–84) and learnt to play the bassoon, horn and percussion. He played in dance orchestras in Berlin and was occasional conductor and house composer at variety theatres. He enjoyed success with popular songs including Wenn die Blätter leise rauschen, Ach Schaffner, lieber Schaffner and Die Gigerlkönigin, and from 1893 to 1897 was conductor and resident composer at the main variety theatre in Berlin, the Apollo. After a period as conductor at the Folies-Bergère, Paris (1897–9), his revue-operetta Frau Luna made his name and also his fortune through his own publishing company, Apollo-Verlag. It was followed by further stage scores and orchestral pieces. Orchestral items such as the ‘Glühwürmchen-Idyll’ from Lysistrata (1902) achieved wide international popularity, while songs such as the march from ...

Article

Richard Zimmerman

(b Providence, RI, Feb 9, 1884; d West Palm Beach, FL, Feb 16, 1953). American pianist and composer. He began composing in his teens and had at least three pieces published in 1904 (two songs and a march); between 1904 and 1918 he issued some 17 rags and ragtime blues. Having moved to New York, he played piano in theatre and dance orchestras and was engaged for solo cabaret appearances. In the 1920s, while playing in dance orchestras in New York and West Palm Beach, Florida, he also wrote background music for films, spending part of 1930 in Hollywood writing film music.

Lodge is best remembered for his rags and especially for Temptation Rag (1909). One of the most successful works in the genre, it was recorded more than any other rag in the years preceding 1920. Lodge’s earlier rags were sophisticated danceable pieces which lent themselves well to orchestral treatment, but his later ragtime blues were more sombre and increasingly adventurous in harmony and structure. More than any other rag composer, Lodge explored and developed the use of minor tonalities. Among his more than 100 published works are pieces of all types including songs, waltzes and various pieces of instrumental dance music. His biggest song hit was ...

Article

Mark Tucker

[Gaetano] (Alberto)

(b London, ON, June 19, 1902; d Houston, Nov 5, 1977). Canadian bandleader of Italian descent. He organized his first group around 1917 in London, Ontario. By 1923 they had begun to play in the USA, and a year later made their first recordings for Gennett as Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians. After a successful engagement at the Granada Cafe, Chicago (1927–8), the group went to New York and in 1929 began a record-breaking engagement of more than 33 years at the Roosevelt Grill. From this time on Lombardo and his band prospered and their records sold well. They appeared on radio, in films and on television, and they toured extensively, always playing in major hotels, ballrooms and nightclubs. For years CBS broadcast the band’s New Year’s Eve performances nationwide from the Roosevelt Grill (later from the Waldorf-Astoria).

Lombardo’s band was among the most popular and long-lived dance orchestras in 20th-century American musical life. His music was always pleasant and accessible as Lombardo aimed for, and reached, the broadest possible audience. The fairly stable membership of his band over the years assured continuity of style and performance. This was partly due to the participation of family members: Lebert (trumpet), Victor (clarinet and saxophone), singer Rose Marie, and especially Carmen (...

Article

[Joshua] (Alexander)

(b London, June 22, 1909; d London, June 6, 1990). English bandleader. After studying music at Trinity College of Music and the London School of Music he led the Magnetic Dance Band (1926) and worked as a professional violinist and with dance bands in Blackpool and London. In 1930 he became the leader of a seven-piece band at the Astoria Ballroom, London, and after a short period as bandleader at the Kit-Cat Club (1931–4) he returned to the Astoria as leader of a 12-piece band, making frequent broadcasts and recordings, and annual tours. In 1940 he left the Astoria to make more extensive tours, and during the war his band, which included Chick Henderson and other notable singers, was one of the most popular in Britain. After the war his band took up a residency at the Hammersmith Palais, and he also started his own agency. He achieved chart success in the 1960s with such numbers as ...

Article

(b London, March 20, 1917). English popular singer. She sang in working men’s clubs from an early age and later with the bands of Joe Loss and Ambrose in the late 1930s before launching a solo career in 1940. Through her BBC radio programme ‘Sincerely Yours’ she established a lifelong connection with the armed forces, gaining the soubriquet of ‘the forces’ sweetheart’, and is particularly associated with such wartime songs as We’ll meet again and White Cliffs of Dover. She was a popular variety performer throughout the 1950s and 60s and had several chart successes in both the UK and the USA. Although principally associated with romantic ballads of the 1930s and 40s, delivered in a rich mezzo-soprano with elegant phrasing and diction, her repertory was extended to include pop songs of the 1960s and country songs on the album Vera Lynn in Nashville (1977). She has increasingly restricted her appearances to those associated with World War II veteran associations. She was made an OBE in ...

Article

Jean W. Thomas

(b Philadelphia, ?June 18, 1901; d Houston, Jan 14, 1965). American soprano. She began her stage career in 1917 as a chorus girl at the Capitol Theater, New York. She played some minor parts in Broadway musicals during the 1920s and had her first starring role in Yes, Yes, Yvette (1927). She is best known for her performances in film musicals in operetta style; she first appeared opposite Maurice Chevalier, and then with Nelson Eddy in such films as Naughty Marietta (1935), Rose Marie (1936), Sweethearts (1938) and New Moon (1940). Although her voice lacked flexibility and warmth, MacDonald projected an image of charm and beauty appropriate to the romantic heroines she portrayed. She left film work in 1942 in order to make concert tours, radio appearances and recordings. She also began a brief career in opera in ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

( b Stargard, West Prussia, Jan 5, 1897; d Berlin, Jan 10, 1953). German composer and conductor . Proficient on the violin and the piano as a child, he appeared as a pianist at the age of 13 and studied at the Cologne Conservatory. He was a military bandsman in Warsaw (1917–18) where he look lessons in composition from Jules de Wertheim and in the piano from Joseph Weisz. From 1920 to 1922 he was accompanist to the violinist Leopold Przemislaw, after which, having settled in Berlin, he was active as a café and radio pianist. In 1928 he conducted the première of Weill's Die Dreigroschenoper, and his widest fame came as the arranger of the operetta Die Dubarry (after Millöcker, first performed at the Admiralspalast, Berlin, 17 August 1931). After 1930 he was concerned mainly with composing songs and other music for plays and some 55 films. From his theatre music came the songs ‘Komm auf die Schaukel, Luise’ for Molnar's ...

Article

(Kathleen Nancy)

(b Enfield, Feb 17, 1941). English soprano. She trained as an opera singer at the GSM and in the 1960s toured in operetta and musical comedy. She began a long association with the works of Stephen Sondheim when she took over the role of April in the first London production of Company in the early 1970s, and was in the original cast of the revue Side by Side by Sondheim in London (1976) and on Broadway (1977). She later appeared as Sally in the revised Follies in London (1987). Her light and flexible voice, combined with both elegant phrasing and a natural sense of comedy, made her ideal for Lily Garland in Coleman’s On the Twentieth Century (1980), and at the National Theatre she has played to consistent acclaim such roles as Adelaide (Guys and Dolls, 1982) and Mrs Lovett (...

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

(b East Orange, NJ, Mar 12, 1921; d Lincoln, NE, Jan 24, 1986). American actor and singer . Known for his good looks, pleasant smile and smooth baritone voice, he is best remembered for his work in film adaptations of Broadway musicals during the 1950s. His two most important roles were Curly McLain in Oklahoma! (1955) and Billy Bigelow in Carousel (1956). Other notable films include Look for the Silver Lining (1949), Tea for Two (1950), By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953), The Desert Song (1953), and The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956). Prior to his move to Hollywood, MacRae was a band singer and nightclub performer. His career was blighted by the decline of the movie musical and he returned to the stage and nightclub circuit in the 1960s. Two of his daughters, Meridith and Heather, became actresses....

Article

Simon Collier

[La Ñata Gaucha]

(b Buenos Aires, Nov 17, 1902; d Buenos Aires, Jan 15, 1970). Argentine tango singer. She first sang a tango on stage in June 1923, when the audience insisted on five repeats of the number. Her vocal style, with its precise diction, was very much her own – at times she almost recited the lyrics – and she is regarded by many as the outstanding woman tango singer of any generation. Her career embraced theatre, film, radio and nearly 300 recordings. She was a good friend of Carlos Gardel, but they were not romantically linked, as sometimes alleged. Her private life was, in fact, tragic: her two brief marriages were failures; her only child died in infancy; one of her lovers committed suicide; the earnings from her great success were never properly managed, and she died in relative poverty....

Article

Craig A. Lockard

(b Prospect, nr Johannesburg, March 4, 1932; d Castel Volturno, Italy, Nov 10, 2008). South African folk and popular singer. As a child she learned traditional African tribal music and jazz-influenced popular music. She spent several years as a band singer and actress, and first attracted attention when she sang the leading role in the African opera King Kong in London in 1959. She then went to the USA, where she achieved a national reputation performing in New York night clubs and on television, introducing contemporary African music to enthusiastic American audiences. Her concerts and albums demonstrated an eclectic taste, including West Indian and Israeli folk music as well as Broadway show tunes. She became best known, however, for her interpretations of such traditional and modern songs of the Xhosa and Zulu peoples as the robust Click Song, where her strong, dynamic singing recreated the material in a powerful, sophisticated and Western urban idiom. She was also capable of sensitive interpretation in such gentle songs as the Indonesian lullaby ...

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(b Venice, Nov 15, 1905; d Tunbridge Wells, March 30, 1980). British orchestra leader and violinist of Italian birth. He was taught the violin by his father Benedetto Paolo Mantovani, a violinist at La Scala (who later led the Covent Garden orchestra) and a professor of music at the Milan and Venice conservatories. Brought to England in 1912, Mantovani made his début at the age of 16 with the Bruch Violin Concerto no.1 and, after study at Trinity College of Music, in the 1920s he led a light orchestra and began to make radio broadcasts (1927). In the 1930s he formed his Tipica orchestra, playing in hotels, for West End musical shows and on radio. He was musical director for Noël Coward’s Pacific 1860 (1946) and Ace of Clubs (1950), both of which he co-orchestrated with Ronald Binge, and for Vivian Ellis’s ...

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William A. Everett

(Warren )

(b Bluffton, IN; d Long Branch, NJ, Aug 7, 1969). American singer and actor . One of Broadway’s most popular leading men of the 1920s, Marsh is best remembered for creating the roles of Prince Karl Franz in The Student Prince (1924) and Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat (1927). After studying law and finance he became a banker in Indianapolis, but eschewed his career to study music in New York. He made his New York début as Count de Cluny in The Grass Widow (1917). Subsequent Broadway credits included Greenwich Village Follies (1920), Baron Schober in Blossom Time (1921), Ned Hamilton in Cherry Blossoms (1927), the poet in The Well of Romance (1930), and leading roles in Gilbert and Sullivan revivals in 1931 and 1935. Although regarded as a quintessential operetta singer, he later sang in nightclubs and hotels in New York and Miami....