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Billings, William (07 October 1746–26 September 1800), composer, singing teacher, and poet, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Billings, a shopkeeper, and Elizabeth Clark. Little is known of his early life and education, but he is thought to have attended common school and gained his musical education through attendance at singing schools (class lessons in choral singing). After the death of his father in 1760, Billings was apprenticed to a tanner, a trade he apparently followed off and on. Music, however, was his love and psalm-singing his passion. He began holding singing schools as early as 1769 and earned a high reputation throughout eastern New England as a teacher of choral singing. Billings was much in demand as a vocal teacher, particularly in the 1770s and 1780s, and he continued to teach as occasion permitted until his death....

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Chotzinoff, Samuel (04 July 1889–09 February 1964), music critic, author, and pianist, was born Shmul Chotzinoff in Vitebsk, Russia, the son of Moyshe Bear, a retail merchant, and Rachel Traskenoff. A promising piano student from the age of ten, Samuel emigrated with his parents to the United States at age seventeen, where he continued his piano studies with Oscar Shack at Columbia University. He left Columbia in 1911 without receiving a diploma (although he would receive an honorary doctorate from the university in 1947)....

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Flanagan, William (14 August 1923–01 September 1969), composer and journalist, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of William Flanagan and Elona (maiden name unknown), both of whom worked for the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. As his was a nonmusical family, Flanagan received very little training as a child besides exposure to the scores of ...

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Fry, William Henry (10 August 1813–21 December 1864), composer, journalist, and music critic, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Fry, publisher of the National Gazette, and Ann Fleeson. Fry began his musical education by listening to his older brother’s piano lessons. He composed an overture while a student at Mount St. Mary’s School in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and afterward studied theory and composition in Philadelphia with Leopold Meignen, a graduate of the Paris Conservatory. Fry was eager to make his musical mark early, and he composed three more overtures before his twentieth birthday....

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Gleason, Ralph Joseph (01 March 1917–03 June 1975), journalist and music critic, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Ralph A. Gleason and Mary Quinlisk. Gleason traced his devotion to jazz music to a day when, suffering from a case of the measles that kept him home from high school in Chappaqua, New York, he heard the music of ...

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Huneker, James Gibbons (31 January 1857–09 February 1921), critic, essayist, and musician, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Joseph Huneker, a prosperous housepainter and decorator, and Mary Gibbons, a schoolteacher. Huneker was introduced to the world of music, drama, and art by his father, who owned one of the largest private collections of prints in the United States; his interest in literature was fostered by his mother, the daughter of the Irish printer and poet James Gibbons. After attending Philadelphia’s Broad Street Academy (1865–1872), Huneker began a five-year apprenticeship in law before discovering his chief interest, music. In 1875 he started piano lessons with one of Philadelphia’s outstanding teachers, Michael Cross, and began writing music critiques and articles for the ...

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Moore, John Weeks (11 April 1807–23 March 1889), music historian and newspaper editor, was born in Andover, New Hampshire, the son of Jacob Bailey Moore, a physician and amateur musician, and Mary Eaton. After attending high school in Concord, New Hampshire, and Plymouth Academy, Moore became an apprentice at the ...

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Peck, George Washington (04 December 1817–06 June 1859), author, editor, and music critic, was born in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, the son of George Washington Peck and Hannah Bliss Carpenter, farmers. Peck entered Brown University in 1833 and, after graduating in 1837, briefly taught school in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. In late 1837 he settled in Cincinnati, where he started the ...

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Root, Frederick Woodman (13 June 1846–08 November 1916), music teacher, author, and editor, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of George Frederick Root, a Civil War songwriter and teacher, and Mary Olive Woodman, a gifted singer. Frederick grew up in musical surroundings and became absorbed in his father’s educational and business pursuits. He studied piano with ...

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Rosenfeld, Paul Leopold (04 May 1890–21 July 1946), music critic, essayist, and novelist, was born in the Mt. Morris section of the Bronx, in New York City, the son of Julius Rosenfeld, a successful manufacturer of textiles, and Sarah Liebmann, of the wealthy Liebmann Brewery family, a serious amateur pianist. His father was steeped in literature, music, and art. When Rosenfeld was ten years old his mother died, and his father sent him to live with his maternal grandmother, who three years later enrolled him at the Riverview Military Academy in Poughkeepsie, New York. He skipped athletics, studied music and literature, and on Saturday afternoons boarded the train for New York City to attend concerts and the theater. In 1908, just as Rosenfeld was about to enter Yale University, his father died....

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Carl Van Vechten Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 1122 P&P).

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Van Vechten, Carl (17 June 1880–21 December 1964), writer and photographer, was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the son of Charles Duane Van Vechten, a banker and insurance agent, and Ada Amanda Fitch. Van Vechten entered the University of Chicago in 1899 and graduated in 1903, whereupon he went to work as a society reporter and photographer for the ...