You are looking at  1-20 of 63 articles  for:

  • Composer or Arranger x
  • Instrumentalist x
  • Light Music and Operetta x
Clear All

Article

Ronald Riddle

(b New York, May 20, 1889; d Harmon, NY, Oct 10, 1918). American composer and pianist. After studying the piano at the National Conservatory of Music in America and taking private lessons with Alexander Lambert, he pursued a varied career in New York, writing material for vaudeville entertainers, serving as a staff pianist for various publishers and recording extensively both on piano rolls (Duo-Art, QRS) and discs (Victor). Arndt’s compositions combine salon gentility with occasional ragtime syncopation, foreshadowing the novelty-piano works of the 1920s by such composers as Confrey and Bargy. They include ...

Article

Michael J. Budds

(b Kansas City, MO, May 12, 1928). American composer and pianist. He learnt the cello, drums and piano from an early age and developed a particular interest in jazz. He played as a night club pianist, and then served in the army, touring as a pianist (1950–52). He went on to study music at the Mannes College of Music, New York, the New School of Social Research, McGill University, Montreal and gained a scholarship to the Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara, California. His composition teachers included Milhaud, Martinů and Cowell. Bacharach became an accompanist for Vic Damone, subsequently working with such performers as Polly Bergen, Steve Lawrence, the Ames Brothers and Paula Stewart, to whom he was married from 1953 to 1958. From 1958 to 1961 he toured internationally with Marlene Dietrich. Bacharach began writing arrangements and composing songs in the mid-1950s, working at the Brill Building and collaborating with the lyricist Hal David (...

Article

David Thomas Roberts

(b Newaygo, MI, July 31, 1894; d Vista, CA, Jan 16, 1974). American composer and pianist. He began to study piano at the age of five in Toledo, Ohio. By the time he was 17 he had discarded his ambitions to become a concert pianist, having become fascinated with ragtime pianists in Toledo’s red-light district, including the famous exponent of eastern ragtime Luckey Roberts. After playing professionally in cinemas and organizing a dance band, he was engaged in 1919 by the ragtime composer Charley Straight to edit, play, arrange and compose for Imperial Player Rolls. Bargy’s association with Straight led to his acquaintance with the agent Edgar Benson, who assembled a band directed by Bargy to record for Victor. Bargy later joined Isham Jones’s orchestra for two years and, in 1928, began a 12-year association with Paul Whiteman’s band, for which he is best remembered today. Later he served as conductor and arranger for Larry Ross’s radio show, and from ...

Article

Philip L. Scowcroft

(b Sydney, Sept 26, 1866; d London, Nov 17, 1951). British pianist and composer of Australian birth. He came to London in 1889 after touring as a pianist in Asia and Australasia and appeared as an accompanist in England before concentrating on composition. He also wrote music criticism for The Observer from 1908 to 1918 and later was vice chairman of the Performing Right Society. Until about 1914 his compositions were not aimed at a wide commercial audience: orchestral works were performed by major London orchestras and four operas were staged, including King Harlequin which was produced in Berlin. The watershed between his serious and light music was his collaboration with the composer Bath and the lyricist Basil Hood in a patriotic operetta, Young England, produced in Birmingham in 1916, before transferring to Daly's and then Drury Lane in London. This was the first of several musicals both original and using music, though not exclusively so, by others, like the popular ...

Article

Geoffrey Self

(b Hucknall, Aug 27, 1886; d Chichester, Dec 23, 1957). English viola player and composer. He studied violin with Georg Ellenberger and harmony with Ralph Horner, but changed to the viola, for which he found a greater demand in Nottingham. Entering the RAM in 1906, he expected viola to be his main study and was indeed placed with Tertis, but the principal, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, had admired his submitted songs and allocated him to Corder for composition. Coates rapidly came to the forefront of viola players, playing for the Beecham SO and Wood's Queen's Hall Orchestra, of which he was principal viola 1912–19. Chronic neuritis plagued him and in 1919, after Wood dismissed him, he never played again.

His composing reputation had been made early by such songs as Stonecracker John (1909) and by Wood's performance of the Miniature Suite at the 1911 Proms. Thereafter he produced a steady stream of orchestral suites, phantasies, marches and waltzes together with some 160 songs, the last march being completed in ...

Article

Geoffrey Block

[Kaufman, Seymour]

(b New York, June 14, 1929; d New York, Nov 18, 2004). American composer and pianist. The son of Russian immigrants, he began to play the piano at the age of four, and performed recitals at the Steinway and Carnegie halls by seven. He studied counterpoint and orchestration at the New York College of Music and developed a serious interest in jazz, within a few years performing in New York nightclubs with his trio and starting a long recording career as a jazz pianist. A collaboration with the lyricist Joseph Allan McCarthy yielded several song hits between 1952 and 1956, including Why try to change me now?, I'm gonna laugh you right out of my life and Tin Pan Alley, the last of which appeared in Coleman's first Broadway venture, the revue John Murray Anderson's Almanac (1953). By the late 1950s he had produced an impressive list of song standards with lyricist Carolyn Leigh, which included ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Colón Román jr, William Anthony; ‘El malo’]

(b South Bronx, New York, April 28, 1950). American bandleader, composer, arranger, trombonist, popular singer, producer and actor. Dubbed ‘El malo’ (the ‘bad boy’) of salsa, he began playing the trumpet in 1963 with the teenage band the Dandees. Switching to trombone, he made his professional début at 17 with the album El malo (Fania, 1967). Both as a bandleader and a member of the Fania All-Stars, he quickly moved to the fore of the burgeoning New York salsa scene, cementing the raw, trombone-heavy ‘New York sound’ inspired by earlier artists such as Eddie Palmieri and Mon Rivera. Between 1967 and 1973 he made a series of important recordings with vocalist Hector Lavoe, which included the albums Asalto Navideño I and II (Fania, 1972 and 1973) with cuatro virtuoso Yomo Toro, where traditional Puerto Rican Christmas aguinaldos were fused with salsa. During his second period (...

Article

(b Peru, IL, April 3, 1895; d Lakewood, NJ, Nov 22, 1971). American composer and pianist. After studying music at the Chicago Musical College he formed a touring orchestra with his brother James in about 1915. Through his work as a pianist and arranger for various piano-roll companies (QRS, Ampico, Imperial and Victor) he developed a popular style known as Novelty piano. This combined classical piano technique with syncopated rhythms and peppy tunes. The technical possibilities of piano rolls helped inspire some of his flashy keyboard effects and rhythmic tricks that influenced later composers in the novelty-piano idiom. Among his most popular pieces were Stumbling (1922), Dizzy Fingers (1923) and Kitten on the Keys (1921), the last of which he performed at Paul Whiteman’s Aeolian Hall concert, 12 February 1924. These and other pieces were issued by Jack Mills, Inc. as Modern Novelty Piano Solos...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Cugat Mingall de Brú y Denolfeo, Francisco de Asís Javier]

(b Gerona, Jan 1, 1900; d Barcelona, Oct 27, 1990). Spanish bandleader, violinist and arranger, active in America. Cugat’s family moved to Cuba when he was five. A child prodigy, he was playing the violin in Havana cafés by the age of seven or eight, and later studied formally in Berlin and peformed with the Berlin PO. He arrived in New York City in 1921 and formed a tango orchestra, and then moved to Hollywood, taking up a life-long hobby as caricaturist before returning to New York with a contract at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1930. Despite his European origins, Cugat became the most commercially famous name in Latin music during the 1930s and 40s, especially among non-Latino North Americans, and his Latin orchestra remained resident at the Waldorf Astoria through the next decade.

Cugat did not pretend to perform authentic Latin American music, yet his lush orchestral arrangements helped popularize Cuban and other Latin American sounds in mainstream North America, earning him the title of the ‘King of the Rhumba’. Among his most famous recordings are ...

Article

Simon Collier

(b Buenos Aires, Dec 11, 1899; d Mar del Plata, Mar 11, 1980). Argentine tango violinist, bandleader and composer. The son of an Italian immigrant proprietor of a private conservatory in Buenos Aires, he served his apprenticeship in tango bands such as those of Eduardo Arolas (1918–19) and Osvaldo Fresedo (1919–20). In 1923 he formed his first sextet, which included his brothers Francisco (piano) and Emilio (second violin). The band remained a sextet until 1930, after which it enlarged to between 10 and 14 instrumentalists; and this remained its standard size until De Caro’s retirement (1954). One of the best-loved dance bands of the tango’s ‘Golden Age’ (1920–50), it made successful trips to Brazil (1927), Italy and France (1931) and Chile (1937). With its clarity, meticulous phrasing, careful instrumental balance and sophisticated arrangements, it pioneered the ‘evolutionist’ trend in tango music, contrasting with the ‘traditionalist’ tendency favoured by more conservative bandleaders. Like his brother Francisco, De Caro was an expert arranger and composer who made notable contributions to the tango repertory. His autobiography was published as ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Bucharest, April 3, 1889; d Bucharest, March 28, 1949). Romanian violinist and composer. He studied at the Bucharest Conservatory (1902–6) with Kiriac-Georgescu (theory and solfège), Rudolf Malcher, Gheorghe A. Dinicu and Carl Flesch (violin), Dimitrie A. Dinicu (chamber music) and Alfonso Castaldi (orchestra) and later with Cecilia Nitzulescu-Lupu and Vasile Filip (violin). He was a violinist in the orchestra of the Ministry of Public Instruction (1906–8) and solo violinist with the Bucharest PO, directed popular music concerts (1906–46) and was leader of the Bucharest Pro Musica (1938–40). In addition, he made tours abroad, collected and arranged Romanian popular melodies and composed several pieces for violin and piano. Among these Hora staccato (1906) has achieved particular popularity as a violin encore; others include Hora spiccato, Hora de concert, Improvisation à la Dinicu, Hora martisorului, Hora de la Chiţorani...

Article

Philip L. Scowcroft

(b London, June 5, 1918; d Suffolk, May 9, 1992). English arranger, composer and pianist. He studied at the RAM, then, as a pianist, began broadcasting in 1946, latterly in a duo with Edward Rubach. He was perhaps best known on radio as an arranger of folk and popular tunes, film and musical comedy themes for orchestra, sometimes with chorus. He was skilled at finding novel approaches to his arrangements for such BBC radio programmes as ‘Melodies for You’ and the long-running ‘Friday Night is Music Night’, and also for his own sextet and trio. Some are so inventive as to straddle the boundary between arrangement and composition, like the London Rhapsody for piano and orchestra and the ‘kindergarten fresco’ Ourselves When Young.

Among his own compositions are the entertainment pieces for brass band, Cornet Cascade and Jolly Roger, and a suite in the manner of Coates, Scènes du ballet...

Article

Walter Starkie

revised by Charles Fox and Alyn Shipton

[Federico]

(b Manila, Dec 12, 1907; d Manila, Jan 16, 1979). Filipino bandleader, pianist, conductor and composer of Spanish parentage. He studied at the Madrid Conservatory, with, among others, Trago and Perez Casas. In 1921 he went to England for two years' study at St Joseph's College, London, and later entered Stanford University, California, where his parents intended him to study law. However, under the influence of Bloch, with whom he had composition lessons, he left in 1926 to give his attention to music. At this point his fascination for jazz and dance music began, and he led the Stanford University Band for a season at the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, while continuing formal composition studies. After cutting his first discs with his Cinderella Roof Orchestra in Hollywood, he returned to England to read law at Cambridge University (where his brother, the saxophonist Manuel (Lizz) Elizalde, was also a student) in ...

Article

John Snelson

(John Herman)

(b Hampstead, Oct 29, 1904; d London, June 19, 1996). English composer, lyricist and pianist. His grandmother Julia Woolf (1831–93) was a pianist and composer, publishing piano pieces, songs and the comic opera Carina (1888), and his mother was a violin pupil of Ysaÿe. He won a music scholarship to Cheltenham College and later studied the piano with Myra Hess at the RAM; his recordings of piano medleys of his own work, especially that from Streamline (1934), reveal a strong technique. Inspired by the music of Paul Rubens, particularly after seeing a revival of Tonight's the Night, he turned to composing light music, contributing additional songs to shows including The Curate's Egg (1922) and By the Way (1923). He learned about songwriting styles as a song plugger for Francis, Day & Hunter, and in 1928 became a composer for Chappell. His first transatlantic hit was achieved with ‘I never dreamt’ in the revue ...

Article

Gerald Bordman

revised by William A. Everett and Deane L. Root

(b Prague, Dec 7, 1879; d Los Angeles, Nov 12, 1972). American composer and pianist of Czech birth. He won a scholarship to the Prague Conservatory and studied composition with Dvořák and piano with Josef Jiránek. He began composing light concert pieces as soon as he graduated, but also accepted a position as accompanist for the violinist Jan Kubelík in order to support himself. He toured Europe and made two visits with Kubelík to the USA, where he decided to settle in 1906. In that year he performed his First Piano Concerto with Walter Damrosch and the New York SO and gave recitals throughout the country, quickly achieving a reputation for his imaginative improvisation. He also continued to compose both concert pieces and lighter music, often under the pseudonym Roderick Freeman.

In 1912 Victor Herbert, who had quarreled with Emma Trentini, the leading lady of his Naughty Marietta...

Article

Alyn Shipton

[‘Gibby’]

(b Clinton, MA, Jan 4, 1903; d London, May 10, 1954). American pianist, bandleader and composer, active in Britain. He played the piano as a child, appearing in public aged ten, and going on to attend the New England Conservatory. In 1924 he came to Britain to study the piano at the RAM, but he soon took up an alternative career in dance music, playing with the Boston Orchestra at the Berkeley Hotel. He led the Sylvians at the Savoy in 1926, taking over leadership of the hotel’s popular Orpheans orchestra from Debroy Somers in 1927, but disbanding it the following year. He became a musical director for the Gramophone Company (1928–9), for whom he led the New Mayfair Orchestra, recording prolifically and providing accompaniments for almost all the popular singers and variety turns recorded by the company. In 1929 he worked for the British and Dominion Film Company as a musical director, spending most of ...

Article

Gerard Béhague

(do Prado Pereira de Oliveira)

(b Juazeiro, Bahia, June 10, 1931). Brazilian popular singer, composer and guitarist. He moved to Rio de Janeiro at the age of 18, singing mostly Romantic samba-canções in various groups and frequenting the nightclub Plaza in Copacobana and the Murray Recordshop in downtown Rio de Janeiro. His first solo recording came in 1952, but it was the July 1958 record containing Jobim's Chega de Saudade and his own Bim-bom that called attention to his new singing style, unassuming but secure and very intimate. In April 1958 he had accompanied on the guitar the pop singer Elisete Cardoso singing Chega de Saudade, and revealed for the first time his distinctive guitar beat that came to be known as the violão gago (stammering guitar), a trademark of the bossa nova made up of previously unknown syncopated patterns on the samba beat. In November of the same year he recorded Jobim's ...

Article

(b Vienna, Sept 1, 1879; d New York, May 30, 1944). Austrian composer, pianist and librettist. He studied at the Leipzig Conservatory with Salomon Judassohn, then was engaged as a coach at the Vienna Hofoper, also working at the Viennese cabaret Nachtlicht as a pianist and singer. His first major success was the operetta Bub oder Mädel (1908), which shows the influence of Lehár. By 1930 he had written 16 operettas, eight of which also credited him as librettist, and also the libretto for Oscar Straus’s operetta Die Königin. Der Orlow (1925) became his most popular work, with some 400 performances in major European cities, and he contributed the song Zuschau ’n kann i net to Benatzky’s Im weissen Rössl (1930). He went to Hollywood in 1930 to team up with Nacio Herb Brown and write the music for the film One Heavenly Night...

Article

Thomas L. Gayda

[Will; Williams, Hugh; Milos, André]

(b Vienna, Aug 11, 1894; d New York, Dec 10, 1939). Austrian composer, pianist and conductor. Born into a Jewish family of jewellers, he studied with the operetta composer Richard Heuberger, Robert Fuchs, the musicologist Guido Adler and Franz Schreker. After he left the Vienna Music Academy in 1919, his Zwei phantastische Stücke was given its first performance by the Vienna PO. The following year he received a doctorate in music from Vienna University. While he remained initially faithful to the late-Romantic, Impressionist line, he became the first Austrian composer to introduce jazz idioms into his music. His grotesque ballet-pantomime Baby in der Bar (1928) marked him as one of the prime exponents of the Zeitgeist of the Weimar era.

In 1927 Grosz moved to Berlin and became the artistic director of the new Ultraphon record company, quickly building up its catalogue as a conductor, arranger and pianist. He formed a well-known piano duo with Wilhelm Kauffman and toured Europe as a highly-sought accompanist and conductor. When the National Socialists seized power in ...

Article

Stanley Goscombe

[Joseph]

(b Zsámbék, Dec 1, 1809; d Weimar, Feb 1, 1889). Hungarian composer, bandmaster and violinist. At 15 he held the post of teacher’s assistant and later taught at a school in the Pest suburb of Franzen. At 18 he gave up teaching and joined the 5th Imperial Austrian Artillery Regiment in Pest, and in 1835 entered the 4th Imperial Austrian Artillery Regiment in Graz as an oboist, soon becoming its bandmaster. Here he became known as the ‘Graz Strauss’, and introduced orchestral music with stringed instruments into public entertainments. In 1836 he composed his first successful work, the Ungarischer Marsch; it was published in Berlin in 1839. In 1840 he married Cajetana Barbara Reichl, in whose honour he composed the Cajetana-Tänze op.116.

With 16 Styrian musicians, Gung’l left Graz in 1843 on his first concert tour of Austria and Germany, ultimately arriving in Berlin, where, assisted by his friend and publisher Gustav Bock, he became the resident conductor of his own 36-piece orchestra at Sommer’s Lokal (...