(b Philadelphia, PA, July 19, 1843; d Philadelphia, PA, 1918). American pianist, singer, educator, and composer. He studied music with his father Thomas à Becket Sr. (b 17 March 1808; d 6 Jan 1890) and in Philadelphia public schools. The father, a music teacher, actor and composer, wrote Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean. In 1855 Thomas à Becket Jr. performed at the Walnut Street Theatre in a work written by his father. He developed into one of the finest, most sought after accompanists in the city, joining with leading artists and singing groups. Member and president of the Mendelssohn Club, he sang in a series of 35 light operas produced at the Amateur Drawing Room (1868–72) and accompanied the Orpheus Club (1877–98). An important educator, from 1873 until he died à Becket taught and played the organ at Girard College, a residential school for orphaned boys. À Becket became a member of a group of professional musicians who evaluated music teaching methods in the Philadelphia Public Schools. À Becket family archives at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts include diaries (...
Martha Furman Schleifer
Giovanni Carli Ballola
revised by Roberta Montemorra Marvin
(b Alessandria, March 20, 1851; d Alessandria, May 2, 1894). Italian organist and composer. He began his musical studies with his stepfather, Pietro Cornaglia. From 1868 to 1871 he attended the Milan Conservatory, studying the piano with Antonio Angeleri and composition with Lauro Rossi and Mazzucato. His graduation exercise, the cantata Caino e Abele, won the first prize and a medal of honour. He toured abroad as a concert pianist, but from 1880 until his death was organist at the cathedral in Alessandria, where he also founded a school of composition, singing and piano, and conducted concerts for the Associazione filarmonica alessandrina. He composed three operas, Isabella Spinola (1877, Milan), Maria di Warden (1884, Venice) and Una partita a scacchi (1892, Pavia), the latter based on Giuseppe Giacosa's popular comedy. In these works, which did not have much success, Abbà Cornaglia remained uninfluenced by the innovatory tendencies of the ‘Scapigliatura’ and of Catalani and by the new ...
revised by John D. Drake and Stephan Hörner
(b Bayreuth, Feb 20, 1761; d Stuttgart, March 2, 1838). German composer, pianist and organist. In 1771 he became a pupil of A. Boroni at the Hohe Karlsschule in Stuttgart, where in 1782 he joined the private band of the Duke of Württemberg as a harpsichordist. On Zumsteeg's death in 1802 he succeeded him as Konzertmeister, and took over the direction of the ensemble until the appointment of J.F. Kranz. By 1815 he held the position of organist at court and director of the official music. In 1832, having completed 50 years' service with the court, he was given a gold medal and a pension.
Most of Abeille's compositions date from the first 30 years of his service at Stuttgart. Besides two sonatas for keyboard with accompanying violin (1783), his published instrumental works include sonatas and other pieces for both piano solo and piano duet, a piano trio, a piano concerto and a concerto for piano duet, which was favourably mentioned by Gerber (...
(b Szent-György-Ábrány, Oct 15, 1822; d Budapest, Dec 20, 1903). Hungarian writer on music, composer and pianist. He came from the wealthy Eördögh family: the name means ‘devil’ and his father changed it to Ábrányi, the name of their estate. He studied the piano under János Kirch (1810–63) and Vilmos Dolegni. His first composition, Magyar ábránd (‘Hungarian Fantasy’), was published in 1841. In the early 1840s he gave concerts in Hungarian towns, and in 1846 left for Vienna to take piano lessons with Joseph Fischhof. There is no reliable evidence that he was ever a student of Chopin in Paris. From 1847 he lived in Pest, in the 1850s as a piano teacher, and studied composition with Mosonyi, together with whom he became a devoted follower of Liszt and Wagner. He was one of the founders of the first Hungarian music periodical, the Zenészeti lapok, in ...
(b Naples, Aug 25, 1829; d Portici, nr Naples, Feb 2, 1909). Italian composer and pianist. He studied the piano and composition in his native town, where he spent his entire life. His prolific output of fluently written, light and brilliant pieces (more than 400 works) won great success with the conventional middle class in Naples, which was culturally behind the times and inclined towards the flimsy, often frivolous genre of salon pieces: Acton's works became an indispensable part of the piano repertory of all daughters ‘of good family’ in Bourbon Naples. An amiable figure but of little distinction, he had no following of his own as a teacher, unlike his Neapolitan colleagues Costantino Palumbo and Alfonso Rendano.
(b La Coruña, Aug 24, 1826; d Lóngora, nr La Coruña, Oct 16, 1881). Spanish composer. He studied the piano with Moscheles in London from 1840 to 1844, and possibly also had lessons from Chopin in Paris. On his return to Spain he lived in La Coruña and Madrid, where some of his compositions were performed, and then at his palace of Lóngora, where he dedicated himself wholly to composition. The influence of Moscheles and, particularly, Chopin was decisive throughout his creative life. He composed one opera, Inese e Bianca, which, in spite of his efforts, was never staged. More important are his piano works and songs, the latter clearly influenced by lieder. In his Cantares nuevos y viejos de Galicia (1877) he united the folklore of Galicia with the technique and spirit of Romantic piano music. He also promoted the musical culture of his native province, developing courses and competitions in music....
revised by Alfred Loewenberg and George Biddlecombe
(b London, c1766; d London, Jan 30, 1844). English double bass player and composer. He was the son of an inventor and at an early age he learnt to play several instruments. In 1791 he married the singer Elizabeth Willems (c1785–c1840), granddaughter of H.T. Reinhold (who sang for Handel). During his career Addison pursued various professional musical activities, frequently determined by his wife’s engagements. In 1791 she sang at Vauxhall Gardens and then at Liverpool, where Addison (hitherto a cellist) deputized for a double bass player and settled on this as his preferred instrument. From Liverpool they went to Dublin, where Addison directed the amateur orchestra of a private theatre partly run by the Earl of Westmeath. In 1792 Mrs Addison sang in the oratorios at Covent Garden and appeared at Vauxhall Gardens; Addison wrote the words of two of her songs, set by James Hook. Later he composed songs for her, and claimed she was his pupil (in ...
[Abranovics, Ritter von August]
(b Pera, Turkey, Nov 1, 1830; d Vienna, Oct 20, 1873). Violinist and composer of Croatian and Italian descent. In his childhood he lived in Constantinople, where his father was in the Austrian diplomatic service; his mother was the Contessa Franchini. From the age of 12 he studied in Vienna, and against his father’s will chose an artistic career as a student of Mayseder (violin, 1850–54) and Hoffmann (composition). After 1855 he had a career as an excellent violinist in various cities including Prague, Leipzig and (in 1858) Paris; he married in Pest in 1859. Nevertheless, he always remained close to the spirit of the orient, as is manifested in his literary works (e.g. Orientalische Musik). Among his 120 works there were operas composed to his own librettos, including the spectacular but short-lived Zrinyi (Pest, 1868, after Körner), Martinuzzi (Buda, 1870), choral works (a mass, ...
(b Tobol′sk, 31 Dec/Jan 12, 1821; d St Petersburg, 22 May/June 3, 1898). Russian violinist and composer. He received his musical education from his father, the violinist Yakov Ivanovich Afanas′yev, an illegitimate son of the writer and poet Prince Ivan Dolgorukov. In 1836 he made his début as a violinist in Moscow, and two years later was appointed leader of the Bol′shoy Theatre Orchestra. He resigned in 1841 to become conductor of the serf orchestra maintained by the wealthy landowner I.D. Shepelyov at Vïksa, near St Petersburg. In 1846 he decided to pursue a career as a solo violinist and toured the major provincial cities of Russia, settling in St Petersburg in 1851. There he made occasional appearances as a soloist, and also led the orchestra of the Italian Opera, sometimes deputizing for the regular conductor. In 1853 he became a piano teacher at the Smol′nïy Institute and relinquished his orchestral post. He visited western Europe in ...
(b Pest, Oct 30, 1855; d Budapest, Oct 8, 1918). Hungarian composer and pianist. He studied at the National Conservatory in Pest (1867–70), at the Vienna Conservatory (1870–73) and at the Academy of Music in Budapest (1875–8), where he was a pupil of Liszt (piano) and Volkmann (composition). With A. Juhász and I. Lépessy, he won the Liszt Scholarship in two successive years, and at the final examination he made a great impression with his Andante and Scherzo for orchestra, first performed in 1878 by the National Theatre orchestra under Sándor Erkel. He and Jenő Hubay established a reputation as a concert duo from the end of 1879 in Paris, which they consolidated the following summer in Austria and during the autumn on an extended tour through Hungary. Their first joint composition, Fantasia Tziganesque, for violin and piano (op.7), dates from that time. Between ...
(b Puerto Príncipe, Cuba, ?Nov 28, 1844; d Havana, ?Dec 31, 1918). Pianist, music teacher, arranger, conductor, composer, and lawyer of Cuban birth, naturalized American. Born into a prominent family in Puerto Príncipe, Cuba (present-day Camagüey), Agramonte strongly supported the movement for independence from Spain. He studied music and the law in Cuba, Spain, and France. After vocal studies with Enrico Delle Sedie (1822–1907) and François Delsarte (1811–71) at the Paris Conservatory, he immigrated to the United States, settling in New York in 1869, where he remained until after Cuban independence in 1898. He became a US citizen in 1886.
In the 1870s and 1880s, Agramonte taught music at the Academy of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx. In the 1890s he taught with Dudley Buck and William Mason at the Metropolitan College of Music and ran his own School of Opera and Oratorio at his home, teaching singers such as ...
(b Ballenstedt, July 13, 1790; d Berlin, Oct 8, 1873). German pianist, music teacher and composer, son of Carl Christian Agthe. He received his musical education from Ebeling in Magdeburg and Seebach in Klosterbergen before studying composition and counterpoint with M.G. Fischer in Erfurt. In 1810 he settled in Leipzig as a music teacher and second violinist in the Gewandhaus Orchestra, and there published his first compositions. He founded a music academy in Dresden with C. Kräger in 1823 which was publicly endorsed by Carl Maria von Weber; J.B. Logier’s methods of keyboard instruction were used there. In the next decade he set up similar institutes in Posen (1826), where Theodore and Adolf Kullak were his pupils, in Breslau (1831) and finally in Berlin (1832). He was forced to retire in 1845 because of weak eyesight. His compositions include at least nine opus numbers for piano (some with other instruments) and two manuscript songs in the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin....
Thomas F. Heck
(b Madrid, April 8, 1784; d Madrid, Dec 29, 1849). Spanish guitarist and composer. ‘Padre Basilio’ of Madrid, possibly Miguel Garcia, gave him his first instruction in the guitar, an instrument for which tablature notation was still commonly used in Spain. In about 1800 Aguado, like Fernando Sor, was influenced by the Italian Federico Moretti and adopted the conventional staff notation for the guitar; thereafter both Spaniards published their music in the improved manner championed by Moretti, distinguishing the musical parts by the direction of note stems, use of rests, etc. Aguado's artistic career unfolded slowly, owing to the Napoleonic invasion of Spain and its aftermath. He retreated to the village of Fuenlabrada in 1803, teaching and perfecting his technique there until 1824, the year his mother died; his Colección de estudios para guitarra appeared in Madrid in 1820. He moved to Paris in 1825 (while Sor was in Russia) and immediately gained an enviable reputation as a virtuoso and teacher; a revised version of his ...
(b Buenos Aires, Jan 28, 1868; d Buenos Aires, Aug 13, 1924). Argentine composer and pianist. He attended the Madrid Conservatory (1882–6), studying composition with Arrieta, harmony with Aranguren and fugue with Cató, and taking first prizes for piano, harmony and counterpoint. While in Spain he impressed Albéniz with his playing, and when he returned to Argentina in 1886 he made a reputation as a pianist. He gave concerts in the interior of the country, staying for a year in Rosario, and then settled in Buenos Aires, where he played a significant part in the musical life of the city. As a composer he followed the national style initiated by Williams, using native folk melodies of the gauchos, particularly tristes, in numerous songs. These established him as one of the most highly esteemed Argentine composers of his generation. He was secretary and harmony professor at the conservatories founded by Gutiérrez and Williams; and he helped to create the music section of the Buenos Aires Athenaeum (...
Oleg V. Timofeyev
(b 1784; d Loshaki, Ryazan′ region, 1853). Russian guitarist and composer. He was a nobleman, and combined a military and administrative career with music. He was one of the first, and most successful, pupils of Andrey Sychra, with whom he studied in Moscow. In 1808 he was transferred to Siberia, and from 1810 lived in St Petersburg. In the 1830s he moved to his estate in Ryazan′ region, where he remained until his death. In contrast to Sychra and Vïsotsky, Aksyonov published only a limited number of guitar pieces, but most of them are of excellent quality. Unlike the majority of Russian guitarists, Aksyonov did not limit himself to the guitar: his skilfully written romansï for voice and piano appeared in various musical periodicals. His guitar adaptations of piano pieces (Field's Kamarinskaya and Dussek's La chasse) illustrate his striking sensitivity to the technical potential of the seven-string guitar. He was apparently the first guitarist for whom variations on Russian folk themes became a significant genre. His guitar compositions use innovative techniques that require perfection of left-hand effects, lengthy legatos and portamento. He also invented the technique of performing artificial harmonics on the guitar, a discovery first published in the ...
revised by Cormac Newark
(b Bayonne, March 8, 1815; d Paris, Feb 22, 1888). French violinist and composer. At the age of ten, he performed Viotti’s Concerto no.12 so well that the citizens of Bayonne decided to send him to Paris. There he entered Habeneck’s class at the Conservatoire in 1827 and won first prize in 1830. He continued to study composition with Fétis (1831–3) while serving as a violinist in the Opéra orchestra. In 1831 he made his début as a soloist with the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, earning the praise of Paganini, present in the audience, who subsequently dedicated to Alard his 6 Sonatas op.2. Soon Alard became known as an excellent performer. At the memorial concert for Mendelssohn in 1848, he was chosen to perform the composer’s recent Violin Concerto. He also became known as a superb chamber music player, particularly with his own string quartet, which he had formed in ...
(b Logroño, April 14, 1795; d Madrid, April 12, 1855). Spanish pianist, composer and teacher. He was the son of Mateo Pérez de Albéniz, a keyboard player and composer, from whom he received his first music lessons. Later he went to Paris for further training; he studied piano with Henri Herz and composition with Friedrich Kalkbrenner, and became a friend of Rossini. Upon his return to Spain he was organist at the church of S María in San Sebastián, and later at a church in Logroño. When Queen María Cristina founded the Madrid Conservatory he was appointed a professor, on 17 June 1830, and in 1834 he became organist of the royal chapel. He gave private instruction to Queen Isabel II, and was the first to introduce modern methods of keyboard technique and pedagogy into Spain. Although his compositions are of little interest, and are generally inferior to his father’s sonatas, he wrote a ...
(b Camprodón, Gerona, May 29, 1860; d Cambo-les-Bains, May 18, 1909). Spanish composer and pianist. When he was a year old he moved with his family to Barcelona. His musical propensities soon became apparent, and his sister Clementina gave him piano lessons when he was about three and a half. A child prodigy, he made his first public appearance at about five, at the Teatro Romea in Barcelona. Shortly afterwards he began lessons with Narciso Oliveras. In 1867 he was taken to Paris where, it is said, he studied privately with Antoine-François Marmontel, eventually taking the entrance exam for the Paris Conservatoire; though impressed with his talent, the jury is said to have refused him admission because he was too immature. In 1868 Albéniz’s father lost his government post, and, to earn money, took Isaac and Clementina on recital tours of the Spanish provinces. Soon the family moved to Madrid, where Albéniz was enrolled in the Escuela Nacional de Música y Declamación (now the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música). His studies were constantly interrupted; having experienced the life of a travelling virtuoso, he repeatedly gave recitals in the provinces or wherever fate took him. He returned intermittently to Madrid and studied for a time with Eduardo Compta and José Tragó. His travels took him to Puerto Rico and Cuba in ...
Alec Hyatt King
revised by Derek McCulloch
[Francis Charles Augustus Albert Emmanuel; Franz Karl August Albert Emanuel, Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha]
(b Rosenau, Coburg, Aug 26, 1819; d London, Dec 14, 1861). German musician, consort of Queen Victoria. Music formed a regular part of his early education and appears prominently in the rigorous programme of study which he drew up for himself at the age of 13. He became proficient in singing, played the piano and organ (Mendelssohn admired his organ playing) and began to compose before he was 18. In 1839 he sang the bass solo in a performance of Beethoven’s Der Preis der Tonkunst at Dresden. After he married Queen Victoria in 1840 he made his mark on the court’s musical life by expanding the private band into a fair-sized orchestra capable of taking part in the first English performances of Schubert’s Symphony no.9, Bach’s St Matthew Passion and Mendelssohn’s Athalie and Oedipus at Colonos, given either at Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace under the prince’s organization. His enthusiasm for contemporary music was counterbalanced by an interest in earlier music and instruments. During his year as director of the Concert of Ancient Music he organized a programme in ...
(b Glasgow, April 10, 1864; d Riga, March 3, 1932). German composer and pianist. D’Albert’s ancestry was as colourful as his life. Although it is natural to note the presence of the composers Giuseppe Matteo Alberti (1685–1751) and Domenico Alberti (c1710–40) among his ancestors, an equally interesting predecessor was his grandfather François (Franz) Bénédicte d’Albert, an adjutant of Napoleon I, who followed Marshall Davout to Hamburg and settled there out of sympathy for the German way of life. Although Franz’s son Charles Louis Napoléon d’Albert earned his greatest fame as a local Johann Strauss in Britain, his son Eugen acquired an early enthusiasm for German culture and music. Hearing Tristan und Isolde had a greater influence on him than the education he received from his father or from Arthur Sullivan, Ernst Pauer and Ebenezer Prout at the National Training School for Music in London. In ...