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Samha El-Kholy

(b Cairo, 1910; d Cairo, May 3, 1991). Egyptian composer and singer. As a child he had a remarkable musical memory, and at the age of seven he joined a drama troupe to sing during intervals. In 1920 he began studies of traditional Arab music at the Arabic Music Club (now the Institute of Arabic Music), and he also studied Western music for a time at the Bergrün School in Cairo. He then embarked on a dual career as a singer-composer; possessing a fine baritone voice, he achieved great popularity, and he also won fame for his improvisations on the ‘ud (lute). His acquaintance with the poet Aḥmad Shawqī helped him socially, and his settings of Shawqī are classics of the genre. Chosen by Sayyid Darwīsh to perform in his operetta Al-barouka (or La mascotte), ‘Abd al-Wahhāb some years later completed Darwīsh's posthumous Cleopatra, though he composed no original music for the theatre. However, he played in many musical films, performing his own songs. Among the awards he received are the Order of Merit and the State Prize for the Arts....

Article

Samha El-Kholy

(b Cairo, Nov 25, 1924; d Königstein, Nov 23, 1988). Egyptian composer. His father performed classical Arab music with his own ensemble. After learning the piano and developing an interest in Western music, Gamal studied history at Cairo University (BA 1945), at the same time continuing his musical studies with Hans Hickmann and others. A government bursary enabled him to study musicology in Heidelberg with Georgiadis (1950–52) and composition at the Freiburg Hochschule with Harald Genzmer (1952–7). After graduation he returned to Egypt, where he taught at the newly founded Cairo Conservatory. In 1971 he was appointed professor of composition there, and he proceeded to establish the first composition department in the Arab world, teaching several Egyptian and Arab composers (including Daoud, Ghoneim, Salama and Al-Saedi) until his retirement in 1986. In 1987 he left for the University of South Florida, in Tampa, Florida, where he lived and taught until his death during a visit to Germany....

Article

Val Wilmer

(Peter )

(b Cape Town, Oct 18, 1950). South African pianist, composer, and arranger. He grew up in the District Six area of Cape Town with the guitarist Russell Herman, studied music at the University of Cape Town, and played in various groups with Herman, including Oswietie, with which they toured South Africa and Angola. After joining Sipho Gumede in the funk-jazz group Spirits Rejoice he traveled along Africa’s west coast as far as Gabon, then in 1979 he settled in London. There he worked with Julian Bahula’s Jazz Africa and with Dudu Pukwana, and in 1981 he founded the trio (later, sextet) District Six with Herman and Brian Abrahams, the latter serving as the group’s leader. In 1984 Afrika performed in the USA as a member of Hugh Masekela’s group, and in 1986 he recorded with Pukwana. He led his own quartets and quintets and accompanied the singer Carmel, and during the same period he collaborated with Masekela, Courtney Pine, and the reed player David Jean-Baptiste and performed frequently as an unaccompanied soloist. In ...

Article

Samha El-Kholy

(b Cairo, Jan 6, 1896; d Cairo, Feb 16, 1961). Egyptian composer. He studied the vocal repertory (mūwashshaḥ and adwār) with Darwish Al-Hariry, learnt to recite the Qur'an with Ismail Succar and also studied the ‘ūd. He started his career as a member of the chorus of the singer Aly Mahmud, and shortly afterwards started to compose religious chants, scoring his first success with some taqtuqas (light songs), which were later recorded by several leading singers. From 1924 he composed operettas; of the 56 he wrote, the two best known are Youm el qiyamah (‘Doomsday’, 1940) and Aziza wa Younes (‘Aziza and Younes’, performed 1941), both written for the National Theatre and both still sometimes performed. His 1075 songs embrace the taqtuqa, mūwashshaḥ and adwār and include long narrative songs in the sentimental modern manner and songs for films. There is a shift in output from ...

Article

Samha El-Kholy

( b Cairo, May 6, 1916; d Cairo, May 14, 1993). Egyptian composer . He was educated at a French school in Cairo, the Collège des Frères, obtaining a diploma in commercial studies. There he played clarinet and horn in the school band, and sang in the choir. He also received private violin lessons from the German Joseph Aubervon, but after nine years an accident obliged him to give up the instrument, and he turned to composition. He took lessons in theory and composition with Aubervon, Minato and other European teachers resident in Cairo, and with the Russian Orlovitsky. After leaving school he worked for the Philips recording company. This period (the late 1940s and early 1950s) saw him composing patriotic and love songs for famous singers such as Shādia and Ragā’ ‘Abdū. In 1952 he became director of the newly founded Soviet cultural centre in Cairo. In the late 1950s he made his first trip to the USSR, where he studied with Khachaturian at the Moscow Conservatory. During that trip he acquainted himself with the music of Soviet composers from the eastern republics and their solutions of the problems of creating their national musical styles. There the Melodiya recording company recorded some of his early works, including the symphonic poem based on the popular song ...

Article

Jacques Aboucaya

(b Oran, Algeria, Oct 25, 1961). French pianist and composer. After taking lessons in classical piano he went to the USA to study at the Berklee College of Music (1981–3) and then at the Manhattan School of Music (MM composition). He appeared in the BMI Jazz Composition Workshop under the direction of Bob Brookmeyer (1984) and wrote for Mel Lewis’s orchestra. Based in New York from 1985, he worked in clubs with such musicians as Joshua Redman, Bobby Watson, Ernie Watts, and Sonny Fortune and toured Brazil with Gerry Mulligan’s quartet. In 1987 he formed a quartet with the saxophonist Tim Ries for a tour of Europe, and then in 1990 recorded his first album as a leader, with Gary Peacock and Bill Stewart as his sidemen. He composed for a Belgian chamber orchestra and for the Orchestre National de Jazz in Paris. Amsallem has continued to play with Ries, and in the course of working in both the USA and Europe he recorded with the saxophonist in a trio with Leon Parker (...

Article

Daniel Avorgbedor

(b Peki-Avetile, Sept 13, 1899; d Peki-Avetile, Jan 1995). Ghanaian composer. After studying the rudiments of music and the harmonium at the Basel Mission Seminary at Kwahu Abetifi, Ghana (1916–19), he received formal lessons in harmony and composition from Emmanuel Allotey-Pappo; a teaching career at Akropong Teacher Training College gave him opportunities to embark on a series of choral works. The existing framework of African identity and personality, as proclaimed by Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president after independence, greatly influenced Amu's attitude and general compositional language in his later years. After being dismissed from the college in Akropong for his overt articulation of African ideas, he moved to Achimota Training College (1934). Gordon Jacob was among Amu's teachers during his diploma studies at the RCM (1937–41), in which harmony and counterpoint were emphasized. He taught and served as head of music at the college in Achimota (...

Article

Saadalla Agha Al-Kalaa

(b al-Qrayya, Syria, Oct 18, 1915; d Beirut, Dec 26, 1974). Syrian singer, composer, ‘ūd player and film actor and producer. In 1924 political circumstances forced his family to move to Egypt. His mother, the noted singer ‘Aliyya al-Munther, taught him singing in the Syrian style. He studied the ‘ūd (lute) at the Cairo Institute for Arab Music. His professional work began as an ‘ūd player and singer at the national radio station and in Badī ‘a Maṣabnī's variety show saloon.

In 1941, through his sister Asmahān , he entered the cinema industry, and for the rest of his life was involved in films as a composer, singer actor, and producer. His singing of Syrian mawwāl (popular songs), tangos and rumbas achieved great popularity, and his work laid the foundations for Arab variety show films, cinematic operetta, orchestral musical overtures and comic and sad songs. His 31 films are mostly autobiographical and provide valuable insight into the role of the musician in society....

Article

Owen Wright

[Avenpace]

(b Zaragoza, north Spain; d Fez, Morocco, c1139). Philosopher, administrator and composer. He spent much of his life, first in Zaragoza and then in Játiva, south Spain, as vizier to various Almoravid governors, and later moved to Fez.

His Kitāb fī al-nafs (‘Book on the soul’) deals with acoustics. He is also reported to have written a substantial treatise on music that could stand comparison with that of al- Fārābī, but this, unfortunately, has not survived. However, his reputation as a composer stayed alive for some considerable time, and his songs are still mentioned by Ibn Khaldūn (1332–1406). He was also a dexterous ‘ūd player. The fullest, if still succinct, account of his achievements is provided by al-Tīfāshī (d 1253), according to whom he studied for several years with female professional musicians (qiyān) and subsequently introduced two important innovations. One resulted in improvements to two of the important song forms, while the other, more general, is intriguingly characterized as a fusion of ‘Christian’ and ‘Eastern’ song. The resulting synthesis was to establish itself as the dominant style in Muslim Spain, effacing that of the earlier school of Ziryāb....

Article

(b Kissy (nr Freetown), Sierra Leone, March 14, 1893; d ?Sierra Leone, 1961). African ethnomusicologist and composer. Missionaries changed Ballanta, the grandfather’s African surname, to Taylor. Nicholas George’s father, Gustavus, hyphenated the name, under which the son published. He sang and played the organ at St. Patrick’s Chapel, Kissy, as a youth. In 1917 he passed the intermediary examination for the BM degree at Fourah Bay College, Freetown, an affiliate of the University of Durham, UK, but he could not complete this degree because of travel requirements that the final examination be taken in England. Between 1918 and 1919, he participated in a Freetown choral society, for which he wrote the oratorio Belshazzar’s Feast. He spent the winter of 1921 in Boston, sponsored by an American patron, where he conducted his African Rhapsody at Symphony Hall and studied orchestration privately. In 1922 he matriculated at the New York Institute of Music Art (now Juilliard School of Music), where he obtained his diploma (...

Article

Daniel Avorgbedor

[Theophilus Ayeola]

(b Lagos, 1935; d Lagos, Nov 6, 1976). Nigerian composer. His parents, both music teachers, and the composers Fela Sowande and T.K. Ekundayo Phillips were his early musical influences. He pursued formal studies in composition, the organ and the piano at the GSM (1957) and read music at Cambridge (BA 1964); he became an FRCO in 1965. Bankole also studied ethnomusicology at UCLA. Although most of his early works do not emphasize African elements, his work at UCLA stimulated Bankole to incorporate traditional Yoruba musical elements into his choral pieces: Jona and Ethnophony are two works that employ African musical instruments exclusively. As exemplified in Festac Cantata, the tonal properties of the Yoruba language became a marked influence on his choral works. He was senior music producer at the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (1966–9), and a lecturer in music at the University of Lagos (...

Article

Francis Dhomont

(b Tamatave, Madagascar, April 27, 1932). French composer. He studied in Bordeaux (1946–54), at the Paris Conservatoire, where his teachers included Messiaen (1958–9), and at the Darmstadt summer courses (1960–62) with Stockhausen, among others. In 1960 he joined the Service de la Recherche of ORTF, recently established by Pierre Schaeffer, and took part in the musique concrète course. That same year he composed his first work, Points critiques, which won the Paris Biennale prize. Further instrumental compositions were followed by compositions for instruments and tape; in 1967 he wrote his first important work for tape alone, Espaces inhabitables, influenced by Georges Bataille and Jules Verne. In its determinedly ‘morphological’ style, Espaces inhabitables showed both great inventive power and discreet lyricism. After 1969 Bayle turned entirely to tape composition.

In 1966 Schaeffer put Bayle in charge of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM). From then on he remained active as a composer, an administrator and a music theorist. In ...

Article

Gregory F. Barz

(b Douala, Cameroon, July 16, 1929; d Paris, May 28, 2001). Cameroonian composer, writer and musician. He studied mathematics in Douala and continued to study English at the Sorbonne, Paris, and is perhaps best known for his comprehensive guide to African music, first published in French as Musique de l’Afrique (1969), later translated into English (1975). He assumed a post in the Department of Information at UNESCO in 1972. In addition to his writing, Bebey is also known as a guitarist and a composer. His solo recital tours (USA, Canada, Africa and Europe) typically included arrangements of African-influenced materials, as well as his own compositions. His best-known compositions are perhaps Le Christ est né à Bomba (1963), Black Tears (1963), Concert for an Old Mask (1965), The Ashanti Doll is Sleeping (1967) and The Poet’s Virile Prayer...

Article

Gerhard Kubik

[Mwenda wa Bayeke ]

(b Bunkeya, 1930; d nr Lubumbashi, Sept 22, 1991). Congolese composer and guitarist. He began to play guitar at the age of 16 in Jadotville (now Likasa) in the Belgian Congo, and within a few years, by the 1950s, he had developed a highly individual style, the Katanga guitar style which he maintained, throughout his nearly 40-year career. He was discovered by South African musicologist Hugh Tracey on a field-trip to the Congo and was first recorded in Jadotville in 1952. That same year he received the first prize of the newly established Osborn Awards for the ‘best African music of the year’ for his composition Masanga njia. He began a full-time professional career, and by the late 1950s he was one of the most acclaimed composers of guitar-songs in Central Africa. From 1952 to 1962 Bosco recorded approximately 156 pieces for the Gallotone Company of South Africa. In ...

Article

Jessica Sternfeld

(b Tunis, Tunisia, March 5, 1941). French lyricist. Boublil and composer claude-michel Schönberg are, along with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, largely the driving forces behind the dominance of the megamusical in the musical theater world since the 1980s. Educated in Paris at the Institute of Higher Commercial Studies, Boublil has no formal training in the arts but became interested in radio and writing lyrics. When Boublil saw Lloyd Webber’s and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar, arguably the first of the megamusicals, he was inspired to create something equally epic, and teamed with Schönberg to write La Revolution Française, which ran in Paris in 1973. Their next project, Les Misérables, began as a concept album and caught the attention of powerful producer Cameron Mackintosh, who took the show to London in 1985 (with Boublil’s libretto translated into English by Herbert Kretzmer) and then New York in 1987; it went on to become one of the largest American and international phenomena in musical theater history. On Broadway ...

Article

Irene Herrmann

(b Jamaica, NY, Dec 30, 1910; d Tangier, Morocco, Nov 18, 1999). American composer and writer. As a young man he studied with Copland in New York, Berlin and Paris. In 1931 they travelled to Morocco, where he completed his first chamber and solo piano works. He continued his studies with Nadia Boulanger, Roger Sessions, Virgil Thomson and Israel Citkowitz. Further travel to Guatemala, Mexico, Ceylon, southern India and the Sahara enabled him to explore indigenous musical styles which were to influence his own compositions. In 1937 he met the writer Jane Auer, whom he married the following year; together they travelled to Mexico, where he visited Silvestre Revueltas, whose compositional style had a considerable influence on his own.

Upon his return to New York, Bowles joined the musical milieu of Henry Brant, David Diamond, Citkowitz and other members of the League of Composers. Between 1936 and 1963...

Article

Christopher Fifield

revised by R. Allen Lott

(b Dresden, Germany, Jan 8, 1830; d Cairo, Egypt, Feb 12, 1894). German conductor, pianist, and composer. He studied piano with Friedrich Wieck, Max Eberwein, and Louis Plaidy before briefly pursuing a law degree to appease his parents. Under Wagner’s influence he began an operatic conducting career, then in 1851 began studying piano with Liszt, becoming one of his most important pupils. After teaching in Berlin (1855–64) and undertaking concert tours as a pianist, Bülow was appointed Hofkapellmeister in Munich, where he gave the premieres of Tristan und Isolde (1865) and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1868). In 1869 Bülow resigned from Munich, unable to cope when his wife—Liszt’s daughter Cosima, whom he had married in 1857—left him for Wagner. He began to undertake concert tours from 1872, making the first of several visits to England in 1873 and the United States in ...

Article

Veit Erlmann

(b Edendale, Nov 14, 1895; d Kwa-Dlangezwa, nr Empangeni, March 5, 1969). South African composer. He was one of the leading black South African composers of the 1920s and 30s, known for his ragtime songs in the Zulu language. Caluza’s early career between 1915 and 1929 was as a teacher at Ohlange Institute, one of the first black colleges in Durban, established by the African National Congress founding president John L. Dube. Caluza and his Double Quartet were invited to England in 1930 to record well over 100 titles for HMV's Zonophone label, many of which were Caluza's own compositions. These recordings counted among South Africa's bestsellers in the mid-1930s. From 1930 to 1935 Caluza studied at the Hampton Institute, Virginia, and Columbia University. He returned to South Africa in 1936 to become professor of music at Adams College, near Durban, where his activities included the training of a variety of choral ensembles and the collection of traditional Zulu music. Caluza withdrew from active musical life in ...

Article

George Leotsakos

(b Heliopolis, Egypt, Jan 8, 1926; d Athens, Jan 8, 1970). Greek composer. The son of a Greek chocolate manufacturer who settled in Egypt, he grew up in the patrician Greek community of cosmopolitan Alexandria. These surroundings – not least the shadow of an ancient civilization obsessed with survival after death – had a deep effect on his creative personality. His education was predominantly in English institutions, giving him a mastery of the language in which he was to write his many unpublished philosophical and musical texts, his diaries and notes on his dreams. After studying at the wartime branch of Victoria College in Alexandria (?1936–45), he went to King’s College, Cambridge, to study with Russell and Wittgenstein, receiving the BA in 1948. Having previously taken lessons with Alexander Plotnikoff, a Russian emigré pianist, in Egypt, and with Gina Bachauer, he studied counterpoint and composition privately with Redlich at Letchworth during his Cambridge years. In the course of the next two years he studied analysis and orchestration with Lavagnino in Gavi and Rome. Also, on five occasions, he attended the summer courses at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, where he took classes in composition with Frazzi and film music with Lavagnino. At some unknown time his interest in depth psychology took him to the Jung Institute in Zürich. It has not been confirmed that he took lessons with Jung himself, but his brother Evangelos, who was a profound influence on Christou, studied at the institute from ...

Article

Beverley A. Brommert

(nes Nicolaas)

(b Moorreesburg, Western Cape, Nov 17, 1957). South African composer. He studied at the universities of Cape Town (BMus 1980, MMus 1985) and Stellenbosch, Western Cape. His compositions are written in a wide range of genres, including sacred works (Missa brevis I, 1991; Te Deum, 1993; White Mass, 1993), chamber music (Ritual, 1981) and pieces commemorating Schubert’s birth (FRASCH 1–3, 1996; Doppelgänger, 1996). He has also composed orchestral pieces (Celebration, 1986; Festival, 1988) and incidental music for Shakespearean productions staged in Cape Town. A strong vein of mysticism in Cloete’s music gives his works a distinctive character despite their recognizable quotation of material by composers such as Tchaikovsky and Schubert. His fascination with the occult, the surreal and the other-worldly is balanced by a disciplined intellectualism, creating a style that is both intuitive and cerebral. Sacred works display an almost obsessive reprise of themes, while others (...