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Nicholas Temperley

(b Kensington, London, Nov 20, 1766; d Bristol, May 15, 1821). English composer and theorist. Entering music as a largely self-taught amateur, he became a popular glee composer and a respected authority on music theory.

He was the son of a builder, Thomas Callcott, by his second wife, Charlotte Wall, and was educated at a private school by William Young; he was a brilliant student of classics, Hebrew and philosophy. Until he was 13 it was planned that he should become a surgeon, but he was so disgusted by witnessing an operation that he gave up this idea. He had learnt something of music from Henry Whitney, organist of Kensington parish church, and he began to practise the organ seriously while continuing to pursue, untaught, the study of languages and mathematics. He also learnt to play the clarinet and the oboe, and began to compose. In 1782 he became acquainted with Samuel Arnold and Benjamin Cooke, who encouraged him to enter the profession; the next year he became assistant organist of St George’s, Bloomsbury. Through Cooke he was admitted as a ‘supernumerary hautboy’ at the concerts of the Academy of Ancient Music. From this time onwards his efforts in composition were mainly devoted to the glee. His first glee, ...

Article

Erik Levi

(b Czernowitz [now Chernovtsy, Ukraine], Oct 26, 1888; d Vienna, Oct 12, 1960). Austrian theatre historian and librettist . He went to Vienna in 1907, studying German, philosophy and musicology (under Guido Adler) at the university and practical music at the academy. In 1908 he became a private pupil of Robert Fuchs and also studied operatic production at the Vienna Hofoper. In 1910 he became Max Reinhardt’s assistant for a production of the second part of Goethe’s Faust at the Deutsche Theater, Berlin. After war service he was appointed librarian at the Austrian National Library, where he founded a theatre archive in 1922 and a film archive in 1929; he initiated studies in theatre history at Vienna University in 1947. During the last years of his life he was accorded many national and international awards.

Although Gregor left important monographs on the history of Vienna’s theatres, on Richard Strauss’s operas and on the broad cultural history of theatre and of opera, he is probably best known as the librettist of Richard Strauss’s ...

Article

Barbara L. Tischler

(b Louisville, KY, Oct 20, 1877; d Louisville, KY, Feb 24, 1919). American composer and folksong collector. She had no formal training as a composer. At the suggestion of May Stone of the Hindman Settlement School in Knott County (Kentucky), she spent the summer of 1914 in Knott and Letcher counties transcribing folksongs and tracing their origins to English and Scottish ballads. By her own description the people of the area called her “the strange woman huntin’ song-ballets.” She published Folk-songs of the Kentucky Mountains (1917, repr. 1922, 1926, 1937), in which 13 of the 20 songs are traced to precursors in Child’s English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882–98). At a time when many American composers turned to folk music as the source of a distinctive voice, McGill’s activities contributed to the search for an American national music. Among her own compositions are the songs “Duna, when I was a little lad” (...

Article

Christopher Smith

(b Maillane, Bouches-du-Rhône, Sept 8, 1830; d Maillane, March 25, 1914). Provençal poet and philologist . The son of a prosperous landowner, he devoted his life to the promotion of the cultural values of Provençal. His most famous work is the rural epic Mirèio (1859) which Michel Carré used as the basis for the libretto of the five-act opera (sometimes described as an ‘opéra-dialogué’) Mireille, set by Gounod. This was first performed in 1864 and subsequently remodelled. Calendau (1867) formed the basis of Henri Maréchal’s opera Calendel (libretto by Paul Ferrier), which had its première in Rouen in 1894. Maurice Léna’s libretto for C. M. Widor’s opera Nerto (1924, Paris) was derived from Mistral’s verse-tale of the same name. In 1904, half a century after the foundation of the pro-Provençal ‘félibrige’, the Nobel Prize for literature was awarded jointly to Mistral and the Spanish poet José Echegaray....

Article

Mireille Barrière

(b Ottawa, Sept 7, 1892; d Montreal, Sept 20, 1958). Canadian composer and folklorist . He studied the piano and the organ in Ottawa with Amédée Tremblay and piano in Montreal with Alfred Laliberté. From 1915 he collaborated with Charles Marchand on collecting and arranging folksongs, and he was also active as a teacher, orchestral pianist and accompanist. From 1927 to 1930 he took part in the festivals commissioned by the Canadian Pacific Railway and became their joint musical director with Harold E. Key in 1930; it was for these that his ballad operas, based on Canadian folklore and including many folksongs, were written. His operetta Philippino was broadcast in 1943. O’Brien became a priest in 1952.

ballad operas unless otherwise stated

Article

Jane W. Stedman

(b London, Feb 27, 1796; d London, May 29, 1880). English dramatist, librettist, antiquarian and costume authority . He brought his scholarly knowledge of costume to bear on his stage designs, and was the first to perceive that comedy might arise from ancient Greeks in authentic chitons behaving like Victorians. His first play, a ‘serio-comic, bombastic, and operatic interlude’, was Amoroso, King of Little Britain (1818); his first serious play was The Vampire, or The Bride of the Isles (1820). After much rapid hackwork Planché went to Covent Garden, where he began to reform the unhistorical costuming of Shakespeare’s plays; he also collaborated with Henry Bishop on ‘English operas’ (dramas with music). In 1826 he wrote a diffuse libretto for Weber’s romantic opera Oberon, or The Elf King’s Oath, the plot based on C. M. Wieland’s poem, the words heavily influenced by Shakespeare. This latter quality led Weber to expostulate gently that music needed dramatic situations rather than poetic imagery. In spite of a successful première, the libretto was criticized for lacking human interest, a charge Planché felt keenly. In ...

Article

Thomas Bauman

(b Weimar, Jan 23, 1762; d Weimar, June 26, 1827). German writer . A copyist’s son from a large family, he was mostly self-educated as a youth. Later he studied law at Jena and Erlangen, then supported himself and his siblings by his pen. Goethe, who lived with and subsequently married Vulpius’s sister Christiane, tried to help him secure various positions. Vulpius translated and adapted Italian and German opera texts for the Bellomo company at Weimar during the 1780s, and supplied over two dozen new versions of previously composed operas to the Weimar court theatre, under Goethe’s direction from 1791 to 1817. On obtaining a position in the Weimar library in 1797, Vulpius turned to cultural-historical studies. The University of Jena conferred the PhD on him in 1809, and in 1816 he was knighted by the Weimar court. Vulpius’s original librettos, like his popular novels, show a decided taste for the sentimental, picaresque and supernatural. During the 1790s his revisions of several of Schikaneder’s librettos – by no means improvements – sparked a war of words between the two....

Article

Esther R. Crookshank

(b Southampton, England, July 17, 1674; Stoke Newington, London, Nov 25, 1748). English hymn writer, clergyman, scholar, and author. Watts wrote hymns from age 20 for his Southampton congregation and from 1702 served as pastor in London. After giving up public ministry for health reasons in 1712, he exerted great influence on Puritan leaders in the American colonies through extensive correspondence and his published collections, which contained nearly 700 hymns and psalm paraphrases.

With The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament (1719) he undertook large-scale reform of Dissenting (non-Anglican) worship by writing new “Christianized” versifications of the Psalms; he believed the Psalter required revision to fit it for New Testament worship. His reform succeeded far beyond his expectations for many reasons, including the strong appeal of his vigorous, singable lyrics to Puritan ministers and worshippers in colonial New England, where they took deep root. Called the “liberator of English hymnody,” Watts produced psalm paraphrases and hymns that broke the grip of strict metrical psalmody in use for over a century in Protestant Britain and North America. Dozens of American compilers produced ...