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Article

Laurence Libin

Apart from the dangers (cuts, burns, eye and muscle injury, dust inhalation, chemical toxicity, etc.) inherent in making instruments, playing and maintaining them also pose risks that belie the benign associations of music-making. When these risks are ignored, users and instrument technicians can suffer serious consequences. Musicians’ unions have drawn attention to health problems arising from performance conditions, and some medical doctors specialize in issues of concern to musicians; the Performing Arts Medical Association represents their interests in the USA. Physical therapists employ Alexander and Feldenkrais techniques among other corrective exercises aimed at improving performance functions. This article cites some typical occupational hazards, which range in severity from minor muscle strain to tooth displacement to permanently disabling accidents. For example, crushing injuries can result from unsafe moving of pianos, and a piano technician can lose an eye if a string breaks during restringing or tuning. Pipe organ technicians often work high within an organ’s case where, in old organs particularly, ladders, access boards, and pipe racks can give way, causing falls....

Article

Amra Bosnić

(b Dubrovnik, Croatia, 1940). Croatian and Bosnian and Herzegovinian conductor. One of the most significant conductors in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Homen graduated from the Academy of Music in Sarajevo in 1966, under the mentorship of Mladen Pozajić. He also studied composition with Ivan Brkanović and Miroslav Špiler. From 1966, he worked as a conductor at the National Theatre Opera in Sarajevo, and during the 1988–9 concert season he was engaged as the artistic director. Homen has also worked with the National Theatre Ballet in Sarajevo, the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Sarajevo Radio Television Orchestra. In 1971 he was a part-time associate of the Academy of Music in Sarajevo, teaching subjects including choral conducting; in 1986 he was engaged as an Associate Professor of Opera. Homen was a conductor of the Sarajevo student chorus Slobodan Princip Seljo (1962–91) and the Croatian Cultural Society Chorus Trebević (...

Article

Amra Bosnić

(b Kuršumlija, Serbia, 1966). Bosnian and Herzegovinian composer. She graduated with a degree in composition from the Academy of Music in Sarajevo (1991), in the class of josip magdić, after which she gained the Master of Composition (2004) under the mentorship of composer dejan despić. Her first position was at the Srednja muzička škola (‘music high school’) in Valjevo, Serbia (1992–2000). She returned to Eastern Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to work as an Associate Professor of Harmony and Harmonic Analysis.

Dutina’s compositions reflect her interest in Balkan folklore, mostly of a rural-vocal type, and in the formal and harmonic devices associated with neoclassicism. She has composed solo songs, chamber music, symphonic works, vocal-instrumental music, choral music, music for children, and film music.

Dutina also cherishes folkloric vocal traditions through her engagement as founder and artistic director of the female vocal ensembles Rusalke (...

Article

Vivian Perlis and Christopher E. Mehrens

(b Brownsville, TX, 4 Aug 1888; d New York, NY, 11 April 1978). American administrator, pianist, and educator. She was educated in France, Germany, and New York, and in 1906 began piano studies with Bertha Fiering Tapper at the Institute of Musical Art (later the Juilliard School). From 1912 to 1922 she helped organize free concerts for European immigrants at the Cooper Union (New York) under the auspices of the People's Music League of the People's Institute, of which she became chairman. During this period she also worked to adapt Montessori teaching methods to music. With former Montessori student Margaret Naumberg, Reis established the Children's School in New York in 1914, later renamed the Walden School. In 1922 she presented a landmark concert at the Cooper Union in which six composers performed their own works. A year later Reis and other composers left Edgar Varèse's International Composers’ Guild to form the ...

Article

William Berz

(b Cincinnati, OH, 26 Nov 1889; d Cincinnati, OH, 28 Jan 1967). American conductor and cornet virtuoso. Simon began cornet studies at age 11, and continued, in 1905, with herman Bellstedt, the famous cornetist. By 1909 Simon was cornet soloist with several professional bands and a member of the Cincinnati SO under Leopold Stokowski. In 1914, he was invited to join the Sousa Band without an audition, becoming solo cornetist and assistant conductor in 1917 when Herbert L. Clarke retired. In 1920–21 Simon formed the ARMCO Band; it evolved from an amateur group to an elite professional ensemble that presented weekly national broadcasts on NBC radio. In 1930, Simon began serving as band director and cornet instructor at the Cincinnati Conservatory. He retired in 1954 and moved to Arizona for health reasons and began teaching part-time at the University of Arizona. He returned to Cincinnati in 1965 and again taught at the Conservatory....

Article

Marta Ottlová, Milan Pospíšil, John Tyrrell and Kelly St Pierre

[Friedrich]

(b Leitomischl, Bohemia [now Litomyšl, Czech Republic], 2 March 1824; d Prague, 12 May 1884). Czech composer, conductor, teacher, and music critic often described as the ‘father’ or ‘inventor’ of Czech national music. While his first language was German and his first nationalist compositions were based on Swedish narratives, Smetana asserted himself as composer of specifically Czech music from the 1860s, and his music posthumously became synonymous with a Czech national musical style. Today, Smetana’s eight operas, including Prodaná nevěsta (‘The Bartered Bride’), as well as his cycle of symphonic poems Má vlast (‘My Fatherland’) form the foundation of the Czech classical musical canon. His opera Libuše is also frequently cited as an ‘apotheosis’ of Czech music, especially in conjunction with the first movement of Má vlast, entitled ‘Vyšehrad’.

After his death, Smetana was transformed in the minds of his audiences and advocates from a composer of nationalistic music to a national symbol himself; he and his works became enduring points of reference for Czechs’ ever-shifting borders, politics, administrations, ethnicities, and imagined futures through the 20th century. For this reason, the actual Smetana in many ways has become inseparable from the myth of ‘Smetana’, as later critics and historians molded his life and work to match their needs. The composer’s supposed greatness, genius, Czechness, tragic deafness, and heroism all give voice to the shifting needs, anxieties, and interests of his audiences as much as to the composer himself....

Article

Nicola Scaldaferri

[Gjergji, Ludovik Ndoj]

(b Shkodër, Albania, 11 Nov 1923; d Shkodër, 27 Dec 2015). Albanian singer. His name is linked in particular to the musical repertoire of Ahengu and Kânge Jare, songs in which Ottoman musical roots blend with Western influences.

Born into a family from the Mirdita region, from childhood he was interested in the urban song of Shkodër. Between 1945 and 1947, in Tirana, he came to the fore as a performer with the ensemble Grupi Karakteristik Shkodran directed by Paulin Pali. In 1947 he took part in the performance of Dasma shkodrane, by Prenkë Jakova, an important pioneer of Albanian musical theatre.

In the early 1950s Bik Ndoja emerged in the musical milieu of Shkodra by singing on the radio, in the House of Culture, and at the Perlat Rexhepi musical club.

During the years of the dictatorship, he continued to live in Shkodra and worked as a tailor, though his renown as a singer grew steadily, thanks to his activity at Radio Shkodra and Radio Tirana, and at the local ...

Article

Amra Bosnić

(b Zagreb, Croatia, 1958). Bosnian and Herzegovinian pianist. One of the best renowned pianists in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romanić completed Srednja muzička škola (‘music high school’) in Sarajevo. At the age of 16 she attended the Moscow Conservatory in the class of Vera Gornostaeva, graduating in 1981 and completing postgraduate studies in 1983 with great success. After completing the masters degree, she attended the Juilliard School (1985), specializing with Gyorgy Sandor.

Over the course of many years, Romanić had a remarkable career, winning numerous awards and giving recitals in European countries including the former Yugoslavia, France, Russia, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Malta, as well as performing on USA concert podiums. She also performed with such leading orchestras as the Munich Symphony Orchestra. She was Professor of Piano at the Academy of Music in Sarajevo (1983–93), and she also conducted masterclasses at universities in the United States and Europe. Today she lives in Munich, Germany....

Article

Edmond T. Johnson

(b Memphis, TN, 17 June 1957). American artist, composer, performer, and instrument inventor best known for inventing the Long String Instrument. Originally interested in visual and performance art, Fullman attended the Kansas City Art Institute where she began to incorporate sound into her works, at first through the manipulation of magnetic tape. Her first major work was the Metal Skirt Sound Sculpture (1980), an assemblage consisting of amplified guitar strings stretched between the artist’s shoes and a pleated metal skirt. Indirectly influenced by Alvin Lucier’s Music on a Long Thin Wire (1977), Fullman began experimenting with extended lengths of wire in 1980 and gave the first public performance on a prototype of the Long String Instrument at the Walker Art Gallery in Minneapolis in November 1981.The design of the Long String Instrument has varied significantly over time and in different installations. It generally consists of several dozen stainless steel, phosphor bronze, or brass wires that are arranged in groups stretched horizontally at about waist height. Depending on the specific installation, the wires span from about 15 to 90 metres. At one end the strings are affixed perpendicularly to the soundboards of securely anchored wooden box resonators (designed in cooperation with the instrument maker Stephen Wise). The strings extend to blocks where they are fastened to tuning pins and tensioned just below their breaking point in order to maximize resonance. A brass capo of unique design (originally a C-clamp) on each string determines its vibrating length. Because the sound arises from longitudinal rather than transverse vibrations, string material (density) and length alone determine pitch, not tension (about 18 kg per string) or thickness. Consequently, the strings sound at a much higher pitch than might be expected from their length. Once tensioned, the strings are tuned by means of the capos in a flexible system of just intonation and typically encompass a range of three octaves down from ...

Article

Karel Steinmetz

[Carmen Mária Štefánia (Beatrix) Farkašová-Čelková]

(b Bratislava, 20 Oct 1931). Czech singer of Slovak origin. After completing her studies at the Gymnasium in Komárno (1950), she was unable to proceed to higher education owing to her political unreliability, but she completed a theatre course at the State Conservatory in Bratislava, and worked as an actress in the 1950s in theatres in Žilina and Bratislava. In 1958 she moved to Prague, where she acted and sang in the Alhambra and in the Rokoko and Semafor theatres. However, she established her career primarily as a singer of chansons, building her repertoire from songs by Petr Hapka and Jiří Šlitr, with texts by Petr Rada and Pavel Kopta, who also provided Czech texts for her to numerous French chansons. In the early 1960s she appeared at the Olympia in Paris, and in Switzerland and the German Federal Republic, where she also made recordings for the radio and appeared on television. She sang more frequently at significant foreign festivals such as Ostend, Wiesbaden, Cannes, and Sopoty, and in countries outside Czechoslovakia (Argentina, Cuba, Canada, and others), than at concerts in Czechoslovakia, though she played minor roles in many Czechoslovak films. Up to her retirement, on health grounds, in her 80s, she gave full-evening recitals in the Kalich and Ungelt theatres in Prague, and in other venues, accompanied on the piano by Petr Malásek. Outside the Czech sphere she has sung chansons in the original languages and has been nicknamed ‘the Prague Edith Piaf’ or ‘the Czech Juliette Gréco’, though as a singer she has retained a very distinctive Slavic style....

Article

Mark Clague

(b Spring Gulch, CO, 12 Feb 1902; d Ann Arbor, MI, 16 July 1994). American band director and educator. A fierce taskmaster, he elevated standards and influenced generations of band directors and musicians. Revelli played violin as a child, training for a career in Chicago's theater orchestras at Chicago Musical College (BM 1922). Earning teaching credentials from Chicago's Columbia School of Music in 1925, he founded the Hobart High School band, leading the ensemble four years later to its first of repeat Indiana state and soon national championships. He continued taking private lessons on all band instruments and studied conducting and music education at Chicago's VanderCook School of Music (BM 1931; MM 1936). In 1935 Revelli became conductor of bands and assistant professor of wind instruments at the University of Michigan, guiding its bands to international prominence. Known as “The Chief,” Revelli required total effort from his players, who both feared and revered him; he championed bandss as a means for educating successful citizens. Beginning in ...

Article

(b Hamburg, 14 Nov 1805; d Berlin, 14 May 1847). German composer, pianist, and salon hostess. Fanny Hensel was one of the most prolific female composers of the 19th century, among the first women to write a string quartet, and a life-long proponent of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and her brother, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Hensel was a pianist of rare talent and prodigious memory who dazzled private audiences at her concert series in her Berlin home. She struggled her entire life with the conflicting impulses of authorship versus the social expectations for her high-class status, finally deciding to publish her music only one year before her early death at the age of 41; her hesitation was variously a result of her dutiful attitude towards her father, her intense relationship with her brother, and her awareness of contemporary social thought on women in the public sphere. Hensel’s music reflects her deep reverence for Bach especially, as well as for Beethoven, but also exhibits the fine craftsmanship and lyricism typical of the post-Classical Mendelssohnian style, and her own experimental and inventive approach to form and content. During her lifetime, Hensel’s career, conducted mostly in the private sphere, was overshadowed by the more public exploits of her brother. The true extent of her compositions (over 450 completed compositions and drafts) and her contributions to the Mendelssohnian style have been rediscovered and appreciated in the late 20th and early 21st centuries....

Article

Pavla Jonssonová

(b 22 July 1958, Bruntál in Czechoslovakia). Czech vocalist, violinist, composer, and actress..Bittová grew up in a musical family and with sisters Ida and Regina often accompanied her father, the composer and multi-instrumentalist Koloman Bitto. She gave up playing violin at the age of fourteen and so her mother, a choir singer and teacher, enrolled her to study acting at Brno Conservatory. In 1978, Bittová became a member of the avant garde theatre Husa na provázku (Goose on a String), starring as Eržika in the popular musical Balada pro banditu (Ballad for a Bandit). She also began her film acting career at this time. She quit her theatre career in 1982 to fulfill her father’s wishes and restarted her study of the violin under Rudolf Šťastný of the Moravian String Quartet. Enabled by her theatrical professionalism, improvisational skills, command of pitch, and purity of tone, Bittová developed a unique performance style consisting of combining the voice and the violin. This avant garde interplay of violin and extended vocalization techniques (ranging from primordial and nature-inspired clicking, screeching and ululating to folkloristic tunes) shocked her audiences. In ...

Article

William B. Davis

(b Amsterdam, Netherlands, 3 July 1887; d Garden City, NY, 24 Aug 1953). American harpist, music educator, and music therapist of Dutch birth. He received early training in music as a harpist at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, with additional musical studies in Germany. After arriving in the United States in 1910 he performed as a harpist with the Metropolitan Opera (1910–6), the New York SO (1916–7), and the US Marine Band (1917–9). From 1921 to 1936 he served as director of a committee to study the feasibility of using music in institutions under the sponsorship of the Russell Sage Foundation. During this period he became an important advocate for music therapy through lecturing and authorship of numerous articles about the therapeutic benefits of music. Van de Wall then described music education and therapy techniques for institutionalized adults and children in his landmark book entitled ...

Article

Christopher Brodersen

(b Bethlehem, PA, 1947). American oboist and maker of early oboes and bassoons, based in Germany. After initial studies at the Oberlin Conservatory, he enrolled at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, studying Baroque oboe under Michel Piguet (1932–2004). Hailperin graduated from the Schola Cantorum in 1970, with the first diploma in Baroque oboe performance from that institution. In 1971 he joined the Vienna Concentus Musicus under Harnoncourt. Hailperin participated in numerous recordings and tours with the Concentus Musicus during the period 1971–9. During this time he began building instruments, following short internships with recorder makers Bob Marvin and Friedrich von Huene. With the encouragement of Jürg Schäftlein, Hailperin made copies of the Paulhahn oboe in the Harnoncourt collection; these copies were soon in demand by leading players. Hailperin’s reconstructions of the Eichentopf oboe da caccia, based on two originals in Scandinavian museums, were the first modern copies to use a brass bell....

Article

Karel Steinmetz

(b Ostrava, 7 June 1953). Czech folk singer, poet, and composer. After completing his studies at Gymnasium (1971) and at a school of librarianship, he entered the field of popular music as a writer of lyrics (he has written song texts principally for singers from Ostrava). As a guitarist, violinist, flautist, and accordionist he is entirely self-taught. In the 1980s he began to appear at Czech festivals of folk music, singing songs of his own with their distinctive texts. Gradually he has become one of the most popular of Czech singers. He mainly sings his own songs, but also translations of songs by the Russian composers Vladimir Vysotsky and Bulat Okudzha, and settings of the poems of Aleksandr Blok. He has set, and sung, poems by the Czech poets Petr Bezruč and Jiří Šotola. His songs owe their popularity largely to the fact that he sings of ordinary people living ordinary lives; they are lyrical and epic, and often ironical and extremely funny. Nohavica is fond of using the dialect of the Ostrava and Těšín region. He has also produced successful translations of opera libretti for works performed at the Ostrava Opera (for example, Mozart’s ...

Article

Karel Steinmetz

[Plekancová-Vondráčková, Lucie]

(b Prague, 8 March 1980). Czech pop singer and actress. Her family was one of musicians (her father, Jiří Vondráček, is an actor and singer, her mother, Hana Sorrosová-Vondráčková, writes lyrics, and her aunt, Helena Vondráčková, is also a singer). Lucie was trained in music and drama at the Prague Conservatory and later obtained the doctorate in the Arts Faculty at Prague University (2006). From early childhood she appeared in films and TV serials for children; in 1992 she became a presenter of children’s programmes on TV, and in 1993 she issued her first record album. There have been more than 10 of these, and all have been enthusiastically received by her public in sales; she regularly features as one of the most popular Czech singers. As an actress, she often plays major roles in Czech films, stage plays, and musicals.

Article

Karel Steinmetz

(b Vsetín, Moravia, 27 June 1929; d Vsetín, 11 Feb 2017). Czech folk singer. Trained in dressmaking, she worked between 1945 and 1949 as a furrier’s seamstress. From 1950 until her retirement in 1985, she was the manager of a shop selling gramophone records in her native town. Her musical talent, inherited from her parents, was evident from her youth, when she began to appear as a singer in local choirs and folk ensembles. From 1952 she was a soloist with the Brněnský rozhlasový orchestr lidových nástrojů (BROLN, ‘Brno Radio Orchestra of Folk Instruments’), with whom she performed hundreds of times in the then Czechoslovakia and also abroad (in Vietnam, China, Mongolia, the USSR, Korea, Cuba, Belgium, the UK, Senegal, Bulgaria, Romania, Japan, the USA, Canada, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, and Denmark). She also performed with various folk ensembles (Vsacan, Jasénka, Kyčera, and the dulcimer ensemble Technik, whose leader, Jan Rokyta, decisively influenced her later development as a singer), and between ...

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Frýdek-Místek, 30 March 1980). Czech composer and guitarist. He studied singing and composition at the Ostrava Conservatory and composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno with Martin Smolka, with whom he completed the PhD in 2014. He also studied at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague (with Louis Andriessen and Clarence Barlow), the Matej Bel University in Bánská Bystrica, CalArts (with David Rosenboom), and the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna.

His work’s penchant for drama and rhythmic drive betrays influences of both rock music and American minimalism. His harmonies are mostly dissonant, which, together with the use of fractured, grating, or fragile sounds, creates an unusual aesthetic. His work with more indeterminate types of notation, however, has led to a looser, more environmental conception of rhythm (The Book of Sand, The Book of Earth).

He has led the Dunami Ensemble since its foundation in ...

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Havířov, 30 April 1974). Czech violinist. He studied at the Ostrava Conservatory and the Ostrava Institute of the Arts (with Ladislav Gořula and Zdeněk Gola). He is a laureate of the Beethoven’s Hradec Competition (in both the solo violin and string quartet categories) and the Leoš Janáček International Competition. As a soloist, he has performed with the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava, the Brno Chamber Soloists, the Prague Chamber Philharmonic, and the Veni Academy. From 2000 to 2011 he was a member, and later deputy leader of second violins, in the Prague Philharmonia (PKF), during which time he was also guest concertmaster or leader with orchestras including the Bilbao Philharmonic, the Berg Orchestra, the Czech Chamber Philharmonic, and the Talich Chamber Orchestra. In 2016, he became the acting director of the Czech Music Information Center.

He is an enthusiastic advocate and performer of contemporary music. He founded the Fama Quartet, leads the ensemble Prague Modern, and is a member of the ensembles Ostravská banda, MoEns, and Early Reflections. He regularly premieres compositions by composers from both the Czech Republic and abroad, and collaborates with dancers, actors, and experimental artists. He is equally at home in many settings, from fully improvised music to complex notation, to all of which he brings the utmost precision and dedication, whether that means the intense quietude of late Nono or the precise abandon of Xenakis’ ...