(b Los Angeles, CA, March 31, 1935). American trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and record company executive. He studied trumpet as a child and left college to play in the army for a two-year period. After three years of producing records on his own, he launched A&M Records with Jerry Moss in 1962. A&M’s first issue was also Alpert’s first recording as a trumpeter and bandleader, The Lonely Bull (A&M, 1962). The title track included sounds from the bullring in Tijuana, Mexico, so Alpert dubbed his band the Tijuana Brass. His music exploited a distinctive combination of Mexican mariachi-style brass with jazz rhythms, which was dubbed Ameriachi. A string of hits including “Mexican Shuffle” (A&M, 1964) and “Tijuana Taxi” (A&M, 1965) followed. In 1966 Alpert had five recordings simultaneously listed on the Billboard Top 20. His cover of “This guy’s in love with you” reached no.1 in ...
Terence J. O’Grady
revised by Bryan Proksch
(b New York, NY, Oct 14, 1967). American composer and clarinetist. A native of New York City, Bermel as a youth studied clarinet with Ben Armato. He studied composition with Michael Tenzer at Yale University (BA 1989) and with William Bolcom and william hugh Albright at the University of Michigan (DMA 1998). Later he worked with Louis Andriessen as a Fulbright Fellow in Amsterdam and Henri Dutilleux at the Tanglewood Music Center. He has also studied ethnomusicology and orchestration with André Hajdu in Jerusalem; Lobi xylophone (gyil) in Ghana; Thracian folk style with Nikola Iliev in Bulgaria; and caxixi in Brazil with Julio Góes.
In 1998 Bermel premiered his own clarinet concerto, Voices, in Carnegie Hall with the American Composers Orchestra under Tan Dun. He has since performed it with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as well as in London and Beijing. He was the founding clarinetist of Music from Copland House, the resident ensemble at Copland’s New York home, which has been restored as a creative center for American music. He also performs with Brooklyn-based band Peace by Piece, for which he serves as bandleader, singer, and songwriter. The group has released two albums, Peace by Piece (...
[Randal Edward ]
(b Philadelphia, PA, Nov 27, 1945). American trumpeter, flugelhorn player, composer, arranger, and bandleader, brother of Michael Brecker. After graduating from Indiana University in 1966, he moved to New York, where he played with Clark Terry, Duke Pearson, and the Thad Jones–Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. A versatile musician, he worked with Blood, Sweat and Tears, performing on their debut album, played hard bop and soul jazz with the Horace Silver Quintet and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and helped form the fusion group Dreams, which included his brother Michael, Billy Cobham, and John Abercrombie. During the 1970s he worked with Silver, Larry Coryell, Stevie Wonder, the Plastic Ono Super Band, and Cobham. He and Michael also performed and recorded (six albums) as the Brecker Brothers, garnering much critical acclaim. He continued to lead his own group into the 1980s and also recorded and toured with virtuoso performers Jaco Pastorious and Stanley Clarke. A reunion of the Brecker Brothers in ...
revised by Robert Bigio
(b Dublin, Ireland, 1809; d London, England, May 7, 1864). Irish flutist, composer, flute designer, and manufacturer. He became professor of flute at the Royal Academy of Music in the 1840s, and was an enthusiastic player of Boehm’s 1832 conical flute as made by Rudall & Rose from 1843. He published the first English-language tutor for the instrument, followed by further editions. However, Clinton appears to have fallen out with Boehm after failing to persuade him to allow Clinton to produce Boehm’s newly invented (1847) cylindrical flute in London (Boehm sold the rights to Rudall & Rose instead). Clinton then denounced Boehm’s work, declaring his opposition to Boehm’s open-standing (fully vented) key system (the virtues of which he had previously extolled) as well as to Boehm’s cylindrical bore and his use of metal for the body.
In 1848 Clinton registered the first of his four patents for flutes, to which he gave the name Equisonant. These use a fingering system similar to that of the eight-keyed flute, on a conical bore but with a mechanism that allows the tone holes to be better placed. After ...
[Blue Butterfly ]
(b Madison, WI, June 4, 1959). American composer and flutist of Mohican descent (enrolled member of Stockbridge Band of Mohican Nation). He earned degrees in music composition from Northern Illinois University (BM 1981) and Arizona State University (MM 1990) and a separate degree in American Indian Religious Studies from Arizona State University (MA 1992). Davids merges his classical training in Western music with Native American elements that have been nurtured by many visits to Stockbridge Munsee Reservation, where his father was raised; in many of his pieces, native percussion can be heard alongside European instruments to create a colorful musical tapestry. Davids is also a concert flutist, famous for performing on his signature handmade quartz crystal flutes, as well as standard flute and native wooden flutes. He has written commissioned works for the National Symphony Orchestra’s 60th anniversary, Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, Chanticleer, Zeitgeist, the Kronos Quartet, the Miró String Quartet, and the Joffrey Ballet. He has received awards from In-Vision, Meet the Composer, Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and Jerome Foundation, among others. In ...
(b US, 1949). American bassoonist and composer. He earned degrees at the University of Kansas (BM, MM) and the Eastman School of Music (DMA 1980), where he worked with Austin Ledwith and David Van Hoesen, respectively. He also studied composition with John Pozdro, Samuel Adler, and warren Benson ...
(b Sarita, TX, Oct 31, 1931; d Corpus Christi, TX, June 2, 2004). American accordionist, songwriter, and composer. He is one of the first Texas Mexican accordionists to achieve success as a full-time musician. At age six he learned harmonica from his mother, and after hearing early recordings by Narciso Martínez he turned to the accordion. By age 18 he had formed his own Conjunto, Tony de la Rosa y su Conjunto, and begun recording with San Antonio’s Rio Records. In 1950 he took over from Martínez as the house accordionist at Ideal Records in Alice, Texas. He accompanied many of the label’s top artists, was one of the first to travel the migrant circuit extensively across Texas and the Southwest, and made more than 100 recordings. He is best known for such polkas as “Atotonilco” and “Frijoles bailan” and for some important innovations to the conjunto style. Having also played in local honky tonk and Texas swing bands, he added drums and electric bass, which were the driving force behind the polka-inspired dance rhythms they played. These instruments provided a solid two-step rhythm for dancing and slowed down the pace enough for the accordion and ...
Barbara A. Petersen
revised by Greg A Steinke
(b Covington, KY, Sept 1, 1921). American composer and flute teacher. He attended Los Angeles City College and the University of Southern California (BA 1948, BM 1949, MM 1951, DMA 1953), where he studied composition with ernst Toch , gail Kubik , ernest Kanitz , and hanns Eisler . He also studied privately with peter jona Korn . His principal flute teachers were Ary Van Leeuwen, Archie Wade, Jules Furman, Frohman Foster, and William Hullinger; early in his career he played with the Corpus Christi (TX) and Muncie (IN) SOs and other ensembles. From 1953 to 1955, he taught at Del Mar College (Corpus Christi), and in 1957, after a year at Ball State University (Muncie), he joined the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles, becoming professor in 1966. He has received a MacDowell Colony Fellowship (1954) and two Huntington Hartford Foundation awards (1956, 1964). In ...
Mark E. Perry
(b San Juan, PR, March 26, 1854; d San Juan, PR, April 4, 1934). Puerto Rican composer, flutist, scholar, and conductor. His earliest achievements came as a flutist; he studied flute with Italian-born Rosario Aruti. Chiefly self-taught as a composer, he was influenced musically by his father, a cellist and double bass player, and Felipe Gutiérrez Espinosa, an established Puerto Rican composer of sacred music. In 1877 Dueño Colón received the gold medal from the Ateneo Puertorriqueño for the symphonic work La amistad (1877). In 1880 he formed a municipal band in Bayamón and shortly afterwards served as the flutist for the chapel of San Juan Cathedral. Awards for his compositions continued, including a silver medal at the Pan American Exposition, held in Buffalo in 1901, for Canciones escolares, a collection of original songs as well as arrangements for Puerto Rican school children. In addition to showing substantial interest in European masterworks, he embarked on the scholarly study of the Puerto Rican ...
Eldonna L. May
(b New York, NY, Jan 5, 1956). American conductor, composer, and clarinetist. After growing up in Harlem and the South Bronx, he attended the Eastman School (BA 1978), Queens College (MA 1979), and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (PhD 1982). He served as assistant professor of music at Carleton College (1982–6), then became the principal guest conductor at the Dance Theatre of Harlem (1986–99) and the resident conductor at the Detroit SO (1987–99). From 1994 to 2001 he worked as assistant to veteran conductor Kurt Masur with the New York Philharmonic. He served as music director of the Detroit SO and the Dearborn SO (1987–94), Symphony Nova Scotia (1996–9), and the Annapolis SO (1998–2003). He was principal conductor of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago (2003–9), and in 2009 he became the principal conductor of the Louisville Ballet. He has conducted the major American orchestras and has been a prominent international guest conductor, leading ensembles such as the Royal Ballet of London, the Madrid SO, and the Warsaw Sinfonia. He has been a regular visitor to South Africa, where he has performed with that country’s major orchestras, including the KwaZulu-Natal PO. Dunner was the first American winner of the Arturo Toscanini International Conducting Competition in ...
revised by Kelly Hiser
(b Kankakee, IL, March 22, 1942; d San Rafael, CA, Sept 25, 1996). American composer, trombonist, conductor, and double bassist. He attended the University of Illinois, where he studied trombone with Robert Gray and composition with Kenneth Gaburo, herbert Brün , and salvatore Martirano (BM in performance 1965). He studied jazz improvisation with lee Konitz and electronic music with richard b. Hervig at the University of Iowa (1970–71). He was a member of the Harry Partch Ensemble (1961–2) and the Illinois Contemporary Chamber Players (1963–6) and was an associate artist at the University of Iowa Center for New Music and New Performing Arts (1969–74). From 1974 to 1984 English lived in Europe, where he performed widely as a soloist and with jazz and new music ensembles, at festivals, and on radio. He collaborated with his wife Candace Natvig, a singer and violinist; in ...
Nicholas Michael Butler
(b Valenciennes, France, c1756; d Charleston, SC, Feb 17, 1818). French clarinetist and composer. Foucard first appeared in Charleston, South Carolina, in December 1793, among a number of theater musicians who had recently arrived from Saint-Domingue (Haiti). Over the next quarter century he appeared on numerous concert and theater programs as the principal clarinet soloist in Charleston. In addition to teaching and occasionally retailing instruments, Foucard also performed with and led wind bands on many occasions in Charleston, and may have played a significant role in sustaining band music in the city during his lifetime. A Charleston band first performed Foucard’s General Pinckney’s March in February 1799, upon the return of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney from an important diplomatic mission to France. A Republican festival in March 1801 also included Foucard’s Jefferson’s March and Burr’s March. The first two of these three works were performed on numerous occasions in early 19th-century Charleston....
Denise A. Gordon
(b Manchester, CT, Jan 18, 1904; d Corona, CA, July 30, 2006). American accordionist, composer, and arranger. In 1911 he toured the United States and Canada, playing cornet and accordion in Chautauqua concerts and vaudeville shows. He studied harmony with John Van Broekhaven in New York (1918) and theory and conducting with Gaston Usigli at the San Francisco Conservatory (1933). He devoted himself to promoting accordion as a legitimate concert instrument: in 1939 at the Galanti Accordion Conservatory in New York, he became the first to conduct a master class in accordion playing; he was also the first to give accordion recitals in a number of venues including New York’s Town Hall, Chicago’s Civic Opera House, and Los Angeles’s Philharmonic Auditorium. Galla-Rini’s first performance of his Accordion Concerto in G minor took place on 15 November 1941 with the Oklahoma City SO and marked the first time an accordionist had ever appeared with a symphony orchestra. With nine others he was a co-founder of the American Accordionists’ Association (...
(b San Antonio, TX, March 11, 1939). American accordionist and songwriter. He inherited his nickname Flaco (“skinny”) from his accordionist father, santiago Jiménez . Like many Texas-Mexican musicians of his generation, he was born into a musical family—his grandfather Patricio played the accordion, as does his younger brother Santiago Jr.—and has played the three-row, diatonic Hohner button accordion; his father played the two-row model. He began performing in his father’s conjunto band at the age of seven, accompanying him on the bajo sexto. By age 16 he was playing accordion and had his own conjunto band, Los Caporales. This was during the early rock-and-roll years when such artists as Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly made a lasting impression on him. In 1973 he recorded with Doug Sahm, a founding member of 1960s San Antonio’s rock pioneers Sir Douglas Quintet. Jiménez developed a syncopated and lively modern accordion sound by ornamenting and extending simple folk melodies and using fermatas. He has continued to mine blues, country, R&B, and pop music to update his style and as a result has collaborated with Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, Dr. John, and Los Super Seven, among others. He has received an NEA National Heritage Fellowship and multiple Grammy Awards....
(b San Antonio, TX, April 25, 1913; d San Antonio, Dec 18, 1984). American accordionist, songwriter, and composer, father of the accordionists Flaco Jiménez and Santiago Jiménez Jr. He is known as a pioneering accordionist and composer of many classic polkas. With encouragement from his accordion-playing father Patricio Jiménez, he began playing at age eight. Although he released his first recording, “Dices pescao” (Decca), in 1936, he was best known for weekly live performances on a Spanish-language radio program, La hora anáuhuac, which aired in the 1940s on San Antonio’s KCOR. He recorded two popular polkas, “Viva Seguin” and “La piedrera,” in 1942 for the Mexican Victor label, the latter written while he worked in a quarry. They were his most popular and have been widely performed and recorded by musicians since. Compared with that of Narciso Martínez, his main rival, Jiménez’s playing style was smoother with less syncopation and fewer 16th notes; he never graduated to the three-row button accordion. However, his precision and rich musicality has remained unmatched. Like Martínez, Jiménez could not make a living from music, and in the 1960s he moved to Dallas and worked as a janitor. He returned to San Antonio in ...
revised by Katie Buehner
(b Batavia, NY, Jan 30, 1940). American composer and flutist. He studied composition with Walter F. Anderson, donald Keats , and David M Epstein at Antioch College (BA 1962) and with leon Kirchner and billy jim Layton at Harvard University (MA 1964), before traveling to Paris for studies with Emile Boulanger (1964–5). He then moved to Cologne, where he studied (1965–6) and taught at the Rheinische Musikschule in the Cologne Courses for New Music (1966–7). He collaborated with Stockhausen (on Hymnen) and others in the electronic studio of West German Radio (1966–7) and was a member of the Stockhausen ensemble that for six months gave performances of that composer’s music at the Osaka World’s Fair (1970). With Rolf Gehlhaar and Johannes Fritsch, he cofounded Feedback Studio, a music publishing house and concert space near Cologne (...
(b Los Angeles, CA, June 3, 1946). American composer, conductor, flutist, and lecturer. Kessner studied composition with henri Lazarof at UCLA where he earned a PhD with Distinction in 1971. He taught music composition and theory at California State University, Northridge, from 1970 to 2006. Kessner has composed more than 100 works: orchestral (14), choir and stage (9), symphonic band (8), and various chamber music settings (80). His music is performed worldwide and has been recorded commercially. His compositional style evolved into centric harmony with explorations in microtonality and free rhythmic associations. While at California State University, he founded and directed The Discovery Players, a contemporary music performance group. He has served as guest conductor for several regional orchestras in the United States and for the Black Sea Philharmonic of Constanta, Romania. With his wife and pianist Dolly Eugenio Kessner, he created the Duo Kessner, which primarily performs contemporary flute literature. Since ...
[Kuczynski, Julius Frank Anthony ]
(b Milwaukee, WI, Feb 18, 1914; d Louisville, KY, March 7, 2000). American country music accordionist, bandleader, songwriter, and vocalist. His musical career was inspired by his father, John, a Polish American who led a local polka band. At 15, he began learning accordion and, in 1930, met popular bandleader Wayne King who suggested the youth take the surname “King” in the interest of simplicity. His first band, the King’s Jesters, played both country music and polkas. In 1934, the group filled in for Gene Autry’s band when Autry, then a star of WLS’s National Barn Dance, toured Wisconsin. King joined Autry (who dubbed him “Pee Wee”) in Louisville until the singer left to launch his Hollywood film career. He briefly led a Louisville band known as the Log Cabin Boys, then in 1937 organized the Golden West Cowboys, who joined the Grand Ole Opry with a distinctive, progressive repertoire blending country, pop, polkas, waltzes, and western swing. From ...
Paul André Bempéchat
(b Long Beach, NY, Jan 12, 1955). American composer and flutist. She attended Yale College (BA 1975) and Yale School of Music (MM, flute performance, 1976). She studied flute with john Wummer , Herbert Tichman, and Thomas Nyfenger, and composition with jonathan d. Kramer , Robert Moore, and Frank Lewin. Internationally acclaimed, she has composed more than 200 art songs, with settings that seek to retain the integrity of each poem while deploying the fullest resources of the voice. She has won the Boston Art Song Competition (2000) and the Best American Art Song Competition (2004, Men with Small Heads), and has received the Maryland State Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award in Music Composition several times. A mentor to many composers, performers, and scholars, she is regularly invited to conduct masterclasses and workshops throughout North America and across the world.
Her prosodic techniques encompass stream-of-consciousness and French didacticism. The work of multiple poets within single, larger forms evince her sharp attention to the integrity of individual movements and the cohesion of an entire composition. This is demonstrated in, among other works, the oratorio-cantata ...
Barry Jean Ancelet
(b Pointe Noire, nr Church Point, LA, Oct 28, 1928; d nr Eunice, LA, Oct 8, 1955). American accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter. He was one of the most influential musicians in Cajun music. Born into a musical family, which also included Angelas, Rodney, Vinesse, Eddie, Homer, and Felton Lejeune, Iry was nearly blind and thus hard to employ. Music allowed him to support his family, with whom he lived in his adopted hometown of Lacassine. He was a prolific songwriter, adapting many songs from the earlier repertoire of Amédé Ardoin. In his teens when World War II ended, he led the return of the diatonic accordion in Cajun music, which had dropped the instrument and the French language in favor of western swing and country music, and the English language, which attended the Americanization of the 1930s. In 1948, he went with Virgil Bozman’s Oklahoma Tornadoes to Houston to record “Love Bridge Waltz” and “Evangeline Special” for Opera Records, in French and in a style that harked back to the traditional sounds of earlier in the century. The record was surprisingly popular, especially among Cajuns who were increasingly concerned about drifting away from their cultural and linguistic heritage. He recorded all of his subsequent records with Eddie Shuler of Goldband Records of Lake Charles, Louisiana. He became a mainstay on the Cajun dance circuit, and though he recorded only a couple of dozen more sides before he died in an automobile accident, they are virtually all still being played by contemporary Cajun and Creole musicians. He was a poetic lyricist, a soulful vocalist, and a virtuoso accordionist, easily among the most imitated in Cajun music....