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Article

Guthrie P. Ramsey

(b Coatesville, PA, Aug 17, 1928). American composer. Born into a musical family, he began piano study with his mother at the age of five and formed his first touring jazz ensemble at the age of 13. He studied at West Virginia State College (BMus 1950), Pennsylvania State University (MMusEd, 1951), the Cincinnati Conservatory (summer 1954) and the University of Iowa (PhD 1958). His teachers included Edward Lewis, Ted Phillips, P. Ahmed Williams, George Ceiga, T. Scott Huston, Phillip Bezanson and Richard B. Hervig, among others. He also attended the Aspen Music School (summer 1964), where he studied with Milhaud. His teaching appointments include positions in the North Carolina public schools and at West Virginia State College (1955–6), Langston University (1958–63) and Tennessee State University, Nashville (1963–9). From 1969 to 1971 he served as ...

Article

also known as Chevalier de Saint-Georges, one of the most accomplished musicians, composers, and fencing masters of eighteenth-century Europe, was born on 25 December 1745 on the plantation Saint-Robert in the town of Baillif, near the region of Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe. (Some sources give his birth year as 1739 Born a slave he was the son of Georges de Bologne de Saint Georges a wealthy white planter who had purchased a title of minor nobility and his black concubine Nanon a Senegalese house slave The ancestry of Joseph Bologne de Saint Georges places him from his earliest childhood at a precocious juncture of influences in the theater of revolutionary change in the Antilles encompassing multiple debates over slavery Although slavery had been abolished in France in the late eighteenth century it remained institutionalized in the colonies Created to normalize the life of slaves in the Antilles Le Code Noir initiated ...

Article

Born in the bustling city of Havana, Cuba, a cultural center for the development of Classical Music in Latin America and the Caribbean, Claudio Brindis de Salas was already a concert violinist at the age of ten. His father, Claudio Sr., was a well-known musician, teacher, and orchestra leader. Brindis de Salas studied with a Belgian teacher in Havana and later with Danclas, David, Sivori, and others at the Paris Conservatory. Brindis de Salas won awards and began traveling widely, earning many accolades in cities like Milan, Florence, Berlin, Saint Petersburg, and London. As a violin virtuoso he earned the nicknames “The Black Paganini” and “The King of the Octaves.” He toured with great success in Latin America, and in Buenos Aires, Argentina, his admirers gave him an authentic Stradivarius violin.

Brindis de Salas lived for a time in Berlin married a German ...

Article

Lucius R. Wyatt

(b Lagos, Dec 24, 1929; d New York, April 29, 2002). American composer, violinist and conductor. His missionary parents, originally from Jamaica, left Nigeria when he was three years old and settled in the West Indies. When he was 11 the family moved to New York, where he began violin lessons with Barnabas Istok. He studied at Queens College, CUNY (BA 1952) and Columbia University (MA 1956), where his teachers included Luening and Beeson. A Fulbright Fellowship enabled him to pursue further study in Florence with Dallapiccola (composition) and in Siena at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana (conducting). He taught at the Hampton (Virginia) Institute, Queens and Hunter colleges, CUNY and Rutgers University. Also active as a performer, he played the violin in chamber and orchestral ensembles and conducted the Triad Chorale (from 1974).

Early influences on Da Costa s compositional ...

Article

Marcus B. Christian

The names of Edmond Dédé's parents are not known, but they arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, from the French West Indies, probably in 1809. Although Dédé had at first learned to play the clarinet in his youth, he was known as a violinist for the thirty years that he lived in New Orleans. He began the study of this instrument under the guidance of free black musician and teacher Constantin Deberque, one of the conductors of the Philharmonic Society, an antebellum organization consisting of more than one hundred white and black musicians of New Orleans. After studying under Deberque, he continued his studies under Ludovico Gabici, who was at one time head of the St. Charles Theater Orchestra. With the rise of hostile white public sentiment against the free black people between 1830–1840 Dédé continued his studies in Mexico where a number of his compatriots also ...

Article

Pamela Lee Gray

composer, violinist, and conductor, was born in New Orleans to parents who were free Creoles of color. His father and mother were originally from the French West Indies but immigrated to the United States in approximately 1809 as part of the mass political exile during that period His father was a professional musician who worked as a bandmaster for a local military unit As a child Dédé studied the clarinet and then began playing the violin His teachers were Ludovico Gabici and Constantin Debergue Debergue was director of the Philharmonic Society established by the free Creoles of color in the area he was also a violinist which may account for Dédé s particular affection for that instrument Gabici an Italian was one of the earliest music publishers in New Orleans and the director of the Saint Charles Theater orchestra Dédé was schooled in music by many ...

Article

Philip Herbert

Violinist and composer, celebrated and admired as a remarkable musician in Cornish society after his humble beginnings as a slave. Emidy, was born in Guinea, West Africa, sold into slavery in 1787 by Portuguese traders, and then taken to Brazil. He came to Lisbon with his new owner, who recognized his interest in music and provided him with a violin and a tutor. He progressed musically, and by 1795 was a second violinist in the orchestra of the Opera House in Lisbon.

However, in 1795, when Sir Edward Pellow brought his ship the Indefatigable into the river Tagus in Lisbon for repairs, he and other officers attended the Lisbon opera. After seeing Emidy perform in the orchestra, they kidnapped him, forcing him to come aboard their ship as their fiddler to perform dances (which he loathed) to entertain the sailors and raise their morale as they sailed.

After ...

Article

Scott Yanow

jazz violinist, was born in Chicago, Illinois. The names and occupations of his parents are not recorded. Jenkins started playing violin when he was seven. He performed recitals at St. Luke Church, accompanied by pianist Ruth Jones, who would later change her name to Dinah Washington. Jenkins became a member of the orchestra and choir at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Jenkins attended DuSable High School, where he was one of many young musicians who were trained and inspired by the legendary teacher Walter Dyett. He went to Florida A&M University on a bassoon scholarship, also playing saxophone and clarinet in the concert band before turning his focus back to the violin. After graduating in 1961, he was a violin teacher in the schools of Mobile, Alabama, until 1965 when he moved back to Chicago continued teaching violin in schools and also began his life as a performer ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

jazz and popular violinist, composer, and bandleader, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of “Professor” Piron, a music teacher and bandleader. His mother's name is unknown. Armand broke his hip at age seven and was unable to walk for five years, during which time he studied violin. Sometime after 1900 he joined his father's dance orchestra. He became a member of the Bloom Philharmonic Orchestra in 1903 and the Peerless Orchestra around 1910.

Piron married in 1912, but the details are unknown. When the cornetist Freddie Keppard left for California in the spring of 1914, Piron took his place as leader of the Olympia Orchestra. Its members included Clarence Williams, with whom Piron formed a publishing company in 1915 when he wrote I Wish I Could Shimmy like My Sister Kate Piron also wrote Brown Skin Who You For ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

During the 1920s, Amadeo Roldán, along with Alejandro García Caturla, was Cuba's leading musical representative of Afrocubanismo, an artistic and literary movement that looked to Cuba's urban black culture, folklore, and music as a basis for new art and literary forms. In his compositions, Roldán employed Afro-Cuban folklore and ritual music, as well as the rhythms of Afro-Cuban dances such as the Rumba, conga, danzón, and son afro cubano. His African-derived works also became central to Cuba's national identity, inciting the slogan, “Down with the lyre, up with the bongo,” allegedly coined by the Cuban writer and ethnomusicologist Alejo Carpentier.

Born in Paris, France, of Cuban parents, Roldán studied music at Spain's Madrid Conservatory, where he pursued a classical European education and won the Sarasate violin prize. In 1919 he settled in Havana, Cuba He continued his musical studies ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

A singular figure on the musical landscape of pre-Revolutionary France, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges gained renown as a composer and violinist. Influenced by the French classical tradition, he wrote in a variety of forms: concertos for violin and orchestra, symphonies, string quartets, operas, sonatas for keyboard and violin, and simphonies concertantes, the popular French form of concerto that featured two or more soloists and an orchestra. He was also recognized throughout Europe as one of the outstanding swordsmen of his time, and in 1792 became colonel of his own regiment in France's National Guard. In 1838 he was the subject of a four-volume adventure novel by Roger de Beauvoir.

The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, born Joseph de Boulogne near Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, West Indies was the son of an African slave woman and an aristocratic French plantation owner from whom he inherited his name and title At the ...

Article

Assumed name of Joseph de Bologne (or Boulogne) (c.1740–1799), international composer and violinist and one of the best fencers in Europe. He was born in Guadeloupe as Joseph, the son of George de Bologne, a wealthy plantation owner. His mother, Nanon, was an African slave. He and his mother were taken to France in 1753. He received a gentleman's education at the fencing school La Boëssière's Royal Academy of Arms. Its focus was on academic study, music, dance, and languages. His fame at fencing was such that he was called le Chevalier de Saint‐Georges.

François‐Joseph Gossec (1734–1829) invited him to be leader of the Concerts des Amateurs orchestra in 1769, and later, its musical director. Between 1772 and 1777 he composed premiered and published violin concertos some of the earliest string quartets in France violin sonatas and symphonies concertantes ...

Article

Marcus B. Christian

Samuel Snaër was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. His father was an organist in one of the white churches of the city; the younger Snaër served in a similar position as organist for Saint Mary's Italian Church for many years. A teacher of violin and piano, he played with talent a dozen different musical instruments, among them the violin, violoncello, piano, and organ. He was unsurpassed as a violoncellist. According to historian Rodolphe Desdunes, Snaër “was perhaps a greater musical savant than was Macarty,” one of his leading contemporaries.

Snaër like many men of genius had a rather contradictory nature and for this reason he confused many who witnessed his actions in different situations He was of an easygoing amiable disposition careless with his manuscripts not very energetic in seeking publishers for his music and those manuscripts that were returned to him after careless hand to hand journeys ...

Article

Leon James Bynum

was born in Clarksville, Tennessee, to James W. White, a physician and school principal, and Caroline Virginia Scott, a concert violinist. James died when Clarence was only a toddler. His mother began Clarence's musical education when he was six; by his eighth birthday, he was a violin student of Will Marion Cook, Broadway composer and violinist. He furthered his studies with Joseph Douglass, a noted violinist whose grandfather was Frederick Douglass, six years later.

He began his collegiate career at Howard University in 1894, but transferred to Oberlin College, which was known at the time for embracing black students. He was a student at Oberlin's Conservatory of Music for five years. In his final year, he received an invitation from President William McKinley to perform at the White House.

He married Beatrice Warrick, a pianist who often accompanied him in concert appearances, in 1905 ...

Article

Thomas L. Riis

(b Clarksville, TN, Aug 10, 1880; d New York, June 30, 1960). American composer and violinist. He studied the violin from an early age and as a teenager composed works inspired by his acquaintance with Joseph Douglass and Will Marion Cook. He later studied at the Oberlin Conservatory (1896–1901), but left to accept a teaching position in Washington DC, before completing his degree. His first important appointment was at the Washington [DC] Conservatory (1903–7), a pioneering institution for black classical music founded by his friend Harriet Gibbs Marshall. He undertook further studies in Europe (1906, 1908–10) with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Michael Zacharewitsch, and later with Raoul Laparra (1930–32). Considering Boston his primary residence, he toured extensively as a violinist, accompanied by his wife Beatrice Warrick White. From 1922 to 1924 he served as president ...

Article

Hildred Roach

Clarence Cameron White was born in Clarksville, Tennessee, the son of James William White, a medical doctor, and Caroline Virginia Scott, an educator. His parents were originally “free Negroes” from Fayetteville, North Carolina, who migrated before the Civil War to Oberlin, Ohio, and then to Tennessee. Soon after the death of his father, White went to live with his grandmother and his grandfather John H. Scott, a harness maker and former abolitionist. White received his early education in Oberlin and Chattanooga. In about 1890 his mother married Dr. W. H. Connor, a medical examiner for the U.S. Government Pension Office, and the family moved to Washington, D.C., where White attended public schools. When he was eleven White began studying the violin with the celebrated violinist Will Marion Cook, and at age fourteen he took lessons with Joseph Douglass, a Howard University professor ...

Article

Gordon Root

José White was born and grew up in Matanzas, Cuba, an important city east of Havana and a major center of African culture, where he began studying violin, first with his father and later with another Afro-Cuban violinist, J. M. Roman. During this period White developed an impressive reputation as a virtuoso performer and made the acquaintance of the North American romantic composer Louis Gottschalk. Gottschalk was so impressed by White's talent that he offered to accompany him in a concert, which took place in Matanzas on March 21, 1855.

A year later, at age nineteen, White moved to Paris, where he studied classical composition with the famous French violinist Jean Delphin Alard at the Paris Conservatory. By this time, he could play eighteen other instruments in addition to the violin. While studying at the conservatory, White met Italian opera composer Rossini whose salon attracted ...