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Ron Pen

(b Louisville, KY, April 28, 1892; d nr Lexington, KY, March 1, 1980). American Folksinger, folk-music collector, and composer. He began collecting and transcribing songs at age 14 and composed his first song, “Go ’way from my window,” in 1907. A skilled pianist upon his graduation from Louisville’s Dupont Manual High School, he continued his studies at Cincinnati Conservatory and the Schola Cantorum in Paris. A pilot with the US Army Signal Corps during World War I, he published two collections of wartime songs, Singing Soldiers (1927) and The songs my mother never taught me (1929).

While based in New York, Niles toured internationally with contralto Marion Kerby from 1929 to 1933, arranging African American and Appalachian material for their repertoire. He also began publishing his arrangements and compositions with Carl Fischer and G. Schirmer and recording for Victor’s Red Seal label. From 1931 to 1934...

Article

Kerala J. Snyder

revised by Geoffrey Webber

(b Magdeburg, bap. March 17, 1664; d Wolfenbüttel, June 6, 1735). German music collector, singer and composer. The son of a brewer, he began his musical education with the Magdeburg Kantor Johann Scheffler, spent two years (1678–80) at the Thomasschule in Leipzig under Johann Schelle and continued his studies at the Johanneum in Hamburg. There he began his professional career as alto and later tenor soloist in the city's Kantorei, interrupted by a year at the university in Leipzig (1683–4). From 1686 to 1689 he worked as a tenor at the court in Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel; during this time he lived with the Kapellmeister Johann Theile, receiving lessons in composition from him and in singing from the two Italian castratos in residence at the court. He himself became Kapellmeister in 1689 to Duke Christian Albrecht of Schleswig-Holstein and moved to Gottorf Castle with his new bride, Magdalena Darnedden, daughter of a Brunswick brewer....

Article

Juan Pablo Gonzalez

(b San Carlos, Nuble, October 4, 1917; d Santiago, February 5, 1967). Chilean traditional singer, collector, cantautor (singer-songwriter), poet and artist. Parra inherited a folkloric repertory from her parents, singing with members of her family in circuses, theatres and bars in Santiago. From 1953 she dedicated her life to the subject of Chilean folklore: collecting, broadcasting on radio, recording and teaching. During the periods 1954–6 and 1961–4 she lived in France, based in Paris, performing in festivals, theatres, clubs, radio and television and recording Chilean music. In 1964 her art was exhibited at the Louvre’s Musée des Arts Decoratifs. On her return to Chile she installed a tent in a suburb of Santiago called La Reina, and here she lived and worked with Chilean popular culture, performing until her premature death by suicide.

With intuitive and powerful talent, Parra consciously introduced an original aesthetic to popular urban song, bringing together distinctive aspects of different Latin American traditions in a manner which could be described as a kind of ‘primitivism’, while at the same time developing literary, musical and performing aspects of the tradition, establishing her own influential models of popular Chilean musics during the 1960s. She had seminal influence on the emerging, groundbreaking generation who were to forge Chile’s ...

Article

Jean R. Freedman

[Margaret ]

(b New York, NY, June 17, 1935). American folksinger, songwriter, and folksong collector, daughter of musicologist charles Seeger and composer, educator, and folksong anthologist Ruth Crawford Seeger. Peggy learned piano, guitar, music theory, and transcription from her parents. With her brother mike Seeger , she learned banjo from a book written by their half-brother pete r. Seeger . She later became proficient on autoharp, Appalachian dulcimer, and English concertina. She made her first recording, Folk Songs of Courting and Complaint, while a student at Radcliffe College (1953–5). During the autumn of 1955, she studied at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. From 1956 to 1959 she traveled throughout Europe, the United States, Russia, and China before settling in England with folksinger, songwriter, and playwright Ewan MacColl [James Henry Miller] (1915–89), who became her musical partner, husband, and father of her children, Neill, Calum, and Kitty. With MacColl, she made more than 100 recordings of traditional Anglo-American ballads, political songs, love songs, work songs, and songs from literature. They frequently performed in folk clubs and concert halls, at festivals, on television, and in films. Seeger and MacColl felt that traditional music was a solid foundation on which the modern songwriter could build. They brought to their songwriting a political dimension, believing that folksongs represent the struggles of ordinary people whose lives are often ignored and whose creations are frequently slighted....