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Andrew Lamb

(b New Orleans, May 30, 1844; d Paris, Aug 20, 1908). French composer and conductor. He was one of two sons of the theatre conductor and composer Pierre Varney (1811–79), from whom he received his musical training. His early career was spent as conductor at the Théâtre de l'Athénée in Paris, for which he composed the one-act operetta Il signor Pulcinella (1876) and music for revues. After his father's death he became known as a prolific composer of opérettes, beginning with Les mousquetaires au couvent (1880). For two decades he produced about two opérettes a year, some of which were also produced abroad, and composed ballets for the major Paris music halls. In the last years of his life, however, he composed little due to a disease which obliged him to move to Bagnères-de-Bigorre in the Pyrenees; he was taken back to Paris the day before he died. Varney's music displays a lightness and gaiety which owe much to Offenbach, but only ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(Félix Augustin Joseph)

(b Bapaume, May 28, 1844; d Pas-de-Calais, May 25, 1917). French composer, organist and conductor. After studying music with his father, an organist at Bapaume, he moved to Paris at the age of 12 to study at the Ecole Niedermeyer. In 1867 he published his Méthode d'orgue expressif ou harmonium (Paris), and in 1870 he became organist at St Symphonien, Versailles. While continuing with religious compositions, he turned to operetta, and in 1872 his La timbale d'argent ran for over 200 nights at the Bouffes-Parisiens, saving the theatre from bankruptcy and setting Vasseur on a career of composing light music. However, none of his later operettas, many of them comic treatments of historical subjects, had equal success. In 1879 he reopened the former Théâtre Taitbout as the Nouveau Théâtre-Lyrique, but his attempt at theatre management soon proved a disaster. In 1890 he became conductor at the Folies-Bergère, but in ...

Article

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....

Article

(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 ...

Article

David Ades

[Isaac Cozerbreit]

(b London, May 8, 1893; d Worthing, Sept 7, 1978). English arranger, composer and conductor. In an early career as a violinist he performed with Beecham and Elgar and, like many of his contemporaries, also played for silent films. Williams contributed many scores for films before World War II, often uncredited on-screen, working alongside Mathieson and Nicholas Brodszky, and assisting on the first British sound-film, Alfred Hitchock's Blackmail. He finally achieved fame in 1947 when he wrote The Dream of Olwen for the film While I Live. While owing its success partly to its similarity to Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto, Williams's own mini-concerto became highly popular worldwide. A similar piece, Jealous Lover, reached the top of the US bestsellers when rediscovered in 1960 for the film The Apartment. He scored for over 20 feature films, and was the musical director for at least six more.

From 1941 Williams wrote and conducted numerous works for Chappell's Recorded Music Library, using the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra. This was the source of much of the music heard in wartime newsreels, and it also included ...

Article

(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 ...

Article

Katherine K. Preston

(b Wilkes-Barre, PA, Aug 15, 1910; d Greenwich, CT, Sept 17, 1973). American arranger, conductor and composer. He started playing the violin at the age of six, later studied reed instruments, and was playing professionally by the time he was in high school. He taught music and led the school orchestra while a student at St Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and graduated from the New England Conservatory. After teaching music in high school he began to play the saxophone in club bands in New York; during the 1930s and 40s he played with various dance orchestras, including those of Larry Clinton, Raymond Scott, the Dorsey brothers, Count Basie, Vaughn Monroe and Benny Goodman. Winterhalter turned to arranging in 1944, and eventually arranged music for many of these bands, and also for such singers as Billy Eckstine, Kate Smith, Dinah Shore, Eddie Fisher, Kay Starr, Perry Como, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, the Ames Brothers and Mario Lanza. In ...

Article

Philip L. Scowcroft

(Henry)

(b Heckmondwike, Jan 24, 1875; d London, Jan 18, 1953). English composer, conductor and flautist. He gained early experience playing the flute in orchestras in Harrogate, then at Bournemouth under Dan Godfrey. He subsequently conducted at various London theatres (among them the Adelphi, Terry's, Daly's and Drury Lane), for over 30 years. He toured the USA with Messager's Véronique and recorded excerpts from the Savoy operas. He also composed musicals of his own, but these have survived less well than the splendidly scored orchestral works produced for Boosey & Hawkes, both original pieces and arrangements, for whom he was a staff composer.

His compositions include suites and separate movements, many betraying his northern origins and evoking the outdoors, also a concertino for his one-time instrument, the flute. His most durable piece is ‘Barwick Green’ from the suite My Native Heath, inspired by his home county of Yorkshire and used as the signature tune to the long-running BBC radio programme ‘The Archers’. This apart, only ...

Article

David Ades

(b London, Dec 4, 1902; d England, Feb 2, 1966). English arranger, composer and conductor. Like many of his contemporaries who later achieved recognition for their work in light music, Yorke began his pre-war career with Britain's leading dance bands, notably Percival Mackey, Jack Hylton and Louis Levy. In particular his distinctive scores of popular film songs in the pseudo-symphonic style required by Levy for recordings and broadcasts became a trademark that would distinguish Yorke for the remainder of his career. After the war light orchestras were a main element of BBC radio, and he became associated with a rich, full orchestral sound, often augmented with a strong saxophone section led by Freddy Gardner (1911–50). Yorke used Gardner in many of his commercial recordings for EMI's Columbia, notably pieces such as I'm in the Mood for Love and These Foolish Things, which have become minor classics of their genre. Yorke contributed many original compositions to the recorded music libraries of leading London publishers (Chappells, Francis Day & Hunter, Paxton etc.) and for ten years from ...

Article

Clifford McCarty

(b Chicago, Aug 8, 1900; d Palm Springs, CA, Nov 10, 1956). American composer, conductor and violinist. He began to play the violin at the age of six, and four years later went to live with his grandfather in Warsaw, where he studied at the conservatory. He made his début as a soloist with the Warsaw PO in 1917. In 1920 he returned to the USA, and the following year made his American début at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. Between 1922 and 1929 he was a leader in movie theatres, a musical supervisor of vaudeville productions, a violinist and arranger for Ted Fiorito’s orchestra, and the assistant musical director of the Balaban and Katz theatre chain.

He first worked for radio in 1929, and in 1931 became musical director for Brunswick Records, where in 1932 he arranged and conducted several selections from Show Boat with soloists, chorus and orchestra; released on four discs, it was the first American album ever made from the score of a Broadway musical. In ...