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Jocelyn Mackey

(b Schwäbisch Hall, bap. Sept 15, 1572; d Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Oct 31, 1634). German composer, organist, instrumentalist, teacher and poet.

Widmann came of a well-educated family. The Lateinschule at Schwäbisch Hall provided a good musical training in the 1580s under Johannes Crusius, and young Widmann ‘sang a good discant’ there and learnt to play the organ, harpsichord, lute, zither, viol, flute and trombone. On 28 April 1589 he entered the University of Tübingen and passed his bachelor’s examinations in 1590; at the university, students could study plainsong, notation and polyphony. Widmann is next heard of as an organist at Eisenerz, Styria, in 1595, and from 1596 until 1598 he held a similar position at Graz. He was a Lutheran, but since the Peace of Augsburg (1555) Protestantism had spread in Austria, and during the 1570s it was even tolerated. In 1598, however, on the orders of Duke Ferdinand, Lutheran ministers were given two weeks to leave. Moreover, in the same year Widmann almost lost his position because of trouble with women: two young women accused him of breach of promise, while he professed to wish to marry a third (he married Margarethe Ehetreiber on 12 June). Because of the action against Lutherans he returned in late ...


Klaus Fischer

(b Perugia, c1580; d Rome, May 6, 1638). Italian composer, singer and teacher. He was a pupil of G.B. Nanino at the choir school at S Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, from June 1592 to 31 October 1594. On 1 May 1600 he was engaged as a bass there. From February 1603 to 6 December 1609 he was maestro di cappella of S Maria Maggiore, Rome; after a severe illness in January 1606 he could no longer fulfil his obligations and in order to recover his health was granted leave of absence from Rome from May to September that year. From 1610 he worked at Benevento Cathedral and from 1614 was director of music to Cardinal Arrigoni in Rome. From 1 August 1616 to 31 July 1620 he was maestro di cappella of S Luigi dei Francesi. On 13 June 1620 he was chosen as successor to Francesco Soriano, who had retired as ...


Paul Griffiths

(Eugène Prosper Charles )

(b Avignon, Dec 10, 1908; d Paris, April 27, 1992). French composer, organist and teacher. He was a musician apart. The sources of his music may be traced on the one hand to the French organ tradition and on the other to the innovations of Debussy, Stravinsky and Bartók, but right at the start of his career he found a modal system that has a completely individual sound, and to this he remained true, even when he vastly extended the possibilities of his style after World War II. He was alone, too, among major 20th-century composers in his joyously held Catholic faith, which again was unswerving, however much he came to value non-European cultures, especially Indian and Japanese. As a teacher he instructed many of the most prominent composers of the next two generations.

In a sense his life as an artist began before he was born, for his mother, Cécile Sauvage, wrote during her pregnancy a cycle of poems, ...


(b Hohenstein, nr Chemnitz, 1709; d Berlin, Feb 17, 1763). German harpsichordist, composer and teacher. One of the earliest references to him was in 1733, when he applied for the position of organist at the Sophienkirche, Dresden. In his application he stated that for the past three years he had been ‘harpsichordist to the king’ and the Polish Prince Sangusko. Although one of three candidates short-listed, Schaffrath was unsuccessful and the post went to Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. By the following year, however, he was in the service of Crown Prince Frederick (later Frederick the Great). He was among those who moved with the prince’s establishment from Ruppin to Rheinsberg in 1736, and on Frederick’s accession in 1740 was installed as harpsichordist in the court Kapelle at Berlin. In 1741 he was appointed musician to the king’s sister, Princess Amalia, a title which appears on contemporary publications of his music and which he was still using in the 1760s. Although he remained at Berlin until his death his name is not included in Marpurg’s register of the Kapelle (...


David Nicholls and Joel Sachs

(Dixon )

(b Menlo Park, CA, March 11, 1897; d Shady, NY, Dec 10, 1965). American composer, writer, pianist, publisher, and teacher. Described by Cage as “the open sesame for new music in America,” he was an early advocate for many of the main developments in 20th-century music, including the systematization of modernist techniques, the exploration of timbral resources, and transculturalism.

Many facets of Cowell’s remarkable personality resulted from the unusual circumstances of his upbringing. His father, Harry, had immigrated to British Columbia with his brother after their own father, the Dean of Kildare’s Anglican Cathedral, bought them some land. Finding no satisfaction in farming life, Harry moved to San Francisco in search of a literary career. Henry’s mother Clara (usually called Clarissa) Dixon, a gifted writer, was the daughter of a fundamentalist Midwestern farming family. She had left the church and their community, married, and produced a son called Clarence. After he ran away from home as a teenager, Clarissa fled her stifling small-town life for San Francisco. In the Bay area, she met Harry, with whom she founded a philosophical-anarchist newsletter. As dedicated anarchists, they rejected the heavy hand of government, including what they saw as the homogenizing power of conventional public schooling. They built a little cottage on the still-rural edge of Menlo Park, where Stanford University was being constructed. Henry Cowell was born there, and Menlo Park remained his principal base until ...


Claude V. Palisca

(b Rome, c1550; d Rome, March 11, 1602). Italian composer, organist, singing teacher, dancer, choreographer, administrator and diplomat. He was the composer of the first surviving play set entirely to music, the Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo (Rome, 1600), the score of which is the earliest one printed with a figured bass.

Cavalieri was the son of Lavinia della Valle and Tommaso Cavalieri (1512–87), an architect and intimate friend of Michelangelo Buonarotti. His brother, Mario (d 1580), coordinated the Lenten music in the Oratorio del SS Crocifisso in S Marcello, Rome, between 1568 and 1579. He himself also participated in this Oratorio both as an organist and as a coordinator of Lenten music from 1578 until at least 1584 (the account books are missing for 1584–94); during his administration the yearly expenditure on music rose from 51 to 140 scudi....


[Jan Antonín, Ioannes Antonius]

(b Velvary, June 26, 1747; d Vienna, May 7, 1818). Bohemian composer, pianist, music teacher and publisher. He was baptized Jan Antonín, but began (not later than 1773) to use the name Leopold to differentiate himself from his older cousin of that name. He received his basic music education in Velvary and then studied music in Prague with his cousin, who probably gave him a thorough grounding in counterpoint and vocal writing, and with F.X. Dušek, whose piano and composition school prepared him mainly for writing symphonies and piano sonatas. After the success of his first ballets and pantomimes (performed in Prague, 1771–8), Kozeluch abandoned his law studies for a career as a musician. In 1778 he went to Vienna, where he quickly made a reputation as an excellent pianist, teacher and composer. By 1781 he was so well established there that he could refuse an offer to succeed Mozart as court organist to the Archbishop of Salzburg. By ...


John Kucaba

revised by Bertil H. van Boer

(b Vienna, Jan 29, 1715; d Vienna, March 1, 1777). Austrian composer, keyboard player and teacher. He can be considered one of the pivotal figures in the development of the Classical style in Vienna with a compositional career that spanned a period from Fux, his teacher, to Haydn and W.A. Mozart, for whom he served as a precursor.

Wagenseil’s father and maternal grandfather were functionaries at the Viennese imperial court. In his teens he began to compose keyboard pieces and to receive keyboard instruction with the organist of the Michaelerkirche in Vienna, Adam Weger. His accomplishments brought him to the attention of the court Kapellmeister, Johann Joseph Fux, who recommended him for a court scholarship in 1735; for the next three years he received intensive instruction in keyboard playing, counterpoint and composition from his sponsor and from Matteo Palotta. As a result of an enthusiastic endorsement from Fux, Wagenseil was appointed composer to the court on ...


Giselher Schubert

(b Hanau, nr Frankfurt, Nov 16, 1895; d Frankfurt, Dec 28, 1963). German composer, theorist, teacher, viola player and conductor. The foremost German composer of his generation, he was a figure central to both music composition and musical thought during the inter-war years.

Hindemith descended on his father’s side from shopkeepers and craftsmen who had settled primarily in the small Silesian community of Jauer (now Jawor, Poland), where the family can be traced back to the 17th century, and on his mother’s side from small farmers and shepherds in southern Lower Saxony. While no signs of musical interest can be found among the relatives of his mother, Maria Sophie Warnecke (1868–1949), his father, Robert Rudolf Emil Hindemith (1870–1915), came from a family of music lovers. Robert Rudolf supposedly ran away from home when his parents opposed his wish to become a musician; after arriving in Hesse, however, he became a painter and decorator. As he was never able to provide a secure income for his family, the Hindemiths were forced to move frequently. Paul spent three years of his childhood with his paternal grandfather in Naumburg. He was sincerely devoted to his mother, whom he is said to have resembled closely, even in similarity of gestures, and dedicated the first volume (...


Pierluigi Petrobelli

(b Pirano, Istria [now Piran, Istra, Slovenia], April 8, 1692; d Padua, Feb 26, 1770). Italian composer, violinist, teacher and theorist.

Tartini's father Giovanni Antonio, of Florentine origin, was general manager of the salt mills in Pirano. Giuseppe, destined for the church by his pious parents, was to have been first a minore conventuale, a branch of the Franciscan order, and subsequently a full priest. To this end he was educated in his native town and then in nearby Capodistria (now Koper, Slovenia) at the scuole pie; as well as the humanities and rhetoric, he studied the rudiments of music. In 1708 he left his native region, never to live there again, but carrying in his memory the peculiarities of the local musical folklore. He enrolled as a law student at Padua University, where he devoted most of his time, always dressed as a priest, to improving his fencing, a practice in which, according to contemporary accounts, few could compete with him. This account of Tartini's youth has been questioned (see, for instance, Capri), but it is supported by contemporary evidence and is consistent with the later development of his personality, characterized by a fiery and stubborn temperament with a strong tendency towards mysticism. These qualities are equally evident in his writings – both letters and theoretical works – and in his compositions....