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Owen Wright

[Maḥmūd ibn Mas‘ūd al-Shīrāzī]

(b Shiraz, 1236; d Tabriz, 1311). Persian physician and scientist. The most outstanding pupil of the mathematician Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī, he is particularly known for his work in medicine, optics and astronomy. His encyclopedia, Durrat al-tāj (‘Pearl of the crown’) demonstrates his mastery of the whole range of traditional medieval scholarship, and contains within its treatment of the mathematical sciences (quadrivium) a lengthy section on music. This is mainly a restatement of the musical theory developed by Ṣafī al-Dīn, but is important for its attention to musical practice, particularly in its codification and description of modes and rhythmic cycles. In both areas it points to the existence of a wider range of structures than is apparent from the works of Ṣafī al-Dīn; its treatment of the modes in particular is far fuller, and is less restricted by purely theoretical concerns. It ends with the most extended, complex and precise example of notation to be found in the works of the medieval Arab and Persian theorists, a unique document which allows some insight into the nature of the compositional practice of the period with regard not only to formal, modal and rhythmic strategies but also to techniques of text setting....

Article

Ronit Seter

[Berman, Bernhardt]

(b Wiesbaden, July 20, 1923). Israeli critic, composer and musicologist. He moved to Mandatory Palestine in 1936. After studying composition with Paul Ben-Haim, his most influential teacher, Bar-Am attended the Ecole Normale de Paris (1949–51). He studied musicology at Tel-Aviv University (BA 1977), where he became the principal lecturer for courses on Jewish music and Israeli contemporary music (1973–96) and the first director of the Archive of Israeli Music. The secretary general of the Israeli League of Composers (1960–76, 1976–8), he became chair of the organizing committee of the ISCM in Israel in 1980. Though most influential as the music critic of the Jerusalem Post between 1958 and 1995, Bar-Am also wrote many essays on Israeli music in Hebrew, English and German, notably ‘A Musical Gateway between East and West’ (Jerusalem Post, 20 April 1988). He ceased composing in the early 1970s but resumed in ...

Article

Saadalla Agha Al-Kalaa

(b Aleppo, Syria, 1884; d Aleppo, Nov 26, 1952). Syrian musician and music researcher. He studied music and muwashsha singing in Aleppo and Istanbul. From 1912 to 1920 he lived in Turkey, where he taught music and wrote an unpublished book entitled The Real Theories in the Science of Musical Readings. On return to Aleppo he became leader of the Mawlawi Sufi group, playing the flute (nāy) during the ceremonies and teaching muwashsha singing.

In 1927 he was invited to teach at the Royal Institute of Music in Cairo; his pupils included the composers Riyād al-Sunbaṭī and Muḥammad ‘Abd al-Wahhāb. In Egypt he documented many old muwashsha and musical pieces. In 1931 he went to Tunisia to do joint research with the French musicologist Baron D'Erlanger, and while resident in Tunis taught muwashsha for six years. He made the first notations of Tunisian Andalusian ...

Article

Igor′ Bėlza

(b Kars, Turkey, 26 April/May 9, 1902; d Moscow, Nov 6, 1981). Russian musicologist and critic. After completing his studies at the Moscow Conservatory (1926–31) he worked on the editorial staff of Pravda as a consultant musical sub-editor (1934–57) and held various important posts on the board of the Soviet Composers’ Union; he was also editor of the journal Sovetskaya muzïka (1952–7). He then published several significant works, which appeared after years of exhaustive research; his monographs on Bach and Khachaturian, for instance, developed essays that he had published before the war. In his books on Borodin, Musorgsky and Khachaturian he examined the oriental motifs in Russian classical and Soviet music in detail.

A.P. Borodin (Moscow, 1933)Sebast′yan Bakh (Moscow, 1937, enlarged 4/1963)‘Pyataya simfoniya D. Shostakovicha’ [Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony], SovM (1938), no.3, pp.14–28Aram Khachaturyan: ėskiz kharakteristiki [Aram Khachaturian: a character sketch] (Moscow, 1939)...

Article

Owen Wright

( b Rashmayyā, 1800; d Damascus, 1880). Lebanese physician and polemicist . Among his many writings is a treatise on music, the earliest manuscript of which is dated 1840. This is the most important Arabic work on the subject from the first half of the 19th century. It is always referred to as the first text in which, with an explicitly mathematical formulation resulting in precise string sections, the modern theory of a 24 quarter-tone octave is articulated. But his definitions, which presage much later inquiry on norms of intonation, are tucked away in a concluding section, so that the bulk of the work is generally ignored.

In fact, Mushāqa's treatise is concerned primarily with scale, instruments and mode, and forms part of a tradition of description and definition exemplified by the treatise of Cantemir and, in Arabic, the anonymous Shajara dhāt al-akmām (‘The tree with calyxes’). All regard the theoretical octave as made up of a set of primary notes between which are intercalated secondary ones, and Mushāqa adds to their number by filling the gaps left by earlier writers. The ensuing account of instruments covers chordophones (including the violin) and aerophones, and gives a detailed account of lute tuning. But particularly important is the extensive catalogue of modes, both for its descriptive content, with each mode being defined in terms of a basic melodic matrix, and for its insight into the differentiation of Syrian practice from the Ottoman system of the day....

Article

Larisa Georgievna Danko

(b Leninakon [now Gryumri, Armenia], April 7, 1924; d Leningrad, March 12, 1977). Soviet musicologist, aesthetician, sociologist and critic. He graduated in 1949 from the faculty of theory and composition at the Leningrad Conservatory, in 1953 from the Research Institute of Theatre and Music, and in 1954 from the philosophy department of Leningrad University. A year later he joined the staff of the Leningrad Institute of Theatre, Music and Cinematography, and in 1968 was also appointed to a professorship at the Leningrad Conservatory. He was awarded the Kanditat degree in 1954 for his dissertation on populist song during World War II and received the doctorate in 1965 for his dissertation on Borodin. In 1976 he initiated the formation of the Soviet Union’s first department of music criticism, at the Leningrad Conservatory. In the last ten years of his life he was a director of the criticism and music studies divisions of the Leningrad Union of Composers and of the Union of Composers of the USSR....