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Braham, David (1838–11 April 1905), composer, conductor, and violinist, was born near London. His father and brother were musicians, as were two of his sons and four of his nephews. In his teens Braham decided to become a professional harpist but, according to one source, gave up the instrument when a British coach driver informed him that he was welcome aboard but his bulky instrument was not. Shortly thereafter he began studying the violin and became an accomplished performer though he never aspired to a career as a concert soloist. As a youth he played violin in various London music halls....

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Englander, Ludwig (20 October 1853–13 September 1914), composer and conductor, was born Ludwig Engländer in Vienna, Austria, the son of Paul Engländer and Jeannette Ehrman. He studied music in his native city and was an occasional pupil of operetta composer Jacques Offenbach, who visited Englander’s parents. Englander also studied with Franz von Suppé, Johann Brandl, and Robert Fuchs before immigrating to the United States in 1882. His first position there was as conductor of the house orchestra at the Thalia Theater, the German-language theater in New York, where his duties included arranging other composers’ scores. He introduced the Viennese operettas of Johann Strauss, Karl Millöcker, and others to American audiences. In 1882 Englander composed songs to accompany a new libretto by Julius Hopp; the work was titled ...

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Green, Johnny (10 October 1908–15 May 1989), popular composer and film music director, was born John Waldo Green in New York City, the son of Vivian I. Green, a real estate agent and banker, and Irma Jellenik. Although his father planned a financial career for him, Johnny Green (he insisted on “John” late in life) said he was a musical pro from the beginning. At age twelve he performed for the composer ...

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Hamlisch, Marvin Frederick (02 June 1944–06 August 2012), composer, songwriter, and conductor, was born in New York City, the son of Lilly Schachter and Max Hamlisch, a musician. His Austrian Jewish parents had very narrowly escaped the Nazis, reluctantly leaving Vienna and arriving in America in 1937, poor and hampered by their inability to speak English fluently. By the age of three, his father recognized the small boy’s musical gifts, and at the age of six, Marvin was enrolled in the Preparatory Division at the Juilliard School of Music in Manhattan, where he was the youngest student ever accepted. He possessed perfect pitch and the ability to re-create on the piano, in any key, any music he heard. As a scholarship student, each year brought dreaded recitals and the audition to retain the scholarship, which he compared to facing a firing squad. By the age of ten, the decidedly anxious prodigy was swallowing Maalox and chewing antacids for what would eventually become a well-earned bleeding ulcer. Already young Marvin had realized, definitively, that he would not become an acclaimed classical pianist. Instead, thrilled by such diverse musicals as ...

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Marvin Frederick Hamlisch. Oil on canvas, 2013, by Richard Stone. © Richard Stone. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Sir Howard and Lady Jennifer Stringer.

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Noble Sissle Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1951. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 1040 P&P).

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Sissle, Noble (10 July 1889–17 December 1975), popular songwriter and bandleader, was born Noble Lee Sissle in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of George Andrew Sissle, a Methodist minister, and Martha Angeline Scott, a public school teacher and juvenile probation officer. Sissle was a boy soprano in church and school choirs, and from 1906, after the family moved to Cleveland, he was the tenor soloist in the Central High School glee club. He began singing professionally in 1908 with the Edward Thomas Male Quartet, which performed on the Chataqua circuit. Having interrupted his schooling for various work, he graduated at the age of twenty-one in 1911. After touring with Hann’s Jubilee Singers, he briefly rejoined his family to move back to Indianapolis after his father’s death in 1913. He spent one semester at De Pauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, before transferring to Butler University in Indianapolis in January 1914. Concurrently he worked as a singer and dancer and in 1915 formed his first orchestra....