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Carlos Chávez Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1937. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103962).

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Chávez, Carlos (13 June 1899–02 August 1978), influential Mexican composer/conductor, author, and educator, of Spanish and some Indian descent, was born Carlos Antonio de Padua Chávez y Ramírez in Mexico City, the seventh son of Augustin Chávez, an inventor, and Juvencia Ramírez, a teacher. His mother supported the children after her husband’s death in 1902. Chávez began his musical studies at an early age and studied piano, first with his elder brother Manuel, then with Asunción Parra, and later with composer and pianist Manuel M. Ponce (1910–1914) and pianist and teacher Pedro Luis Ogazón (1915–1920). Chávez credited Ogazón with introducing him to the best classical and Romantic music and with developing his musical taste and technical formation. He received little formal training in composition, concentrating instead on the piano, analysis of musical scores, and orchestration. Chávez’s maternal grandfather was Indian, and from the time Chávez was five or six his family frequently vacationed in the ancient city-state of Tlaxcala, the home of a tribe that opposed the Aztecs. He later visited such diverse Indian centers as Puebla, Jalisco, Nayarit, and Michoacan in pursuit of Indian culture, which proved a significant influence on his early works....

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Childers, Lulu Vere (28 February 1870–06 March 1946), founder and director of the School of Music at Howard University and singer, was born in Dryridge, Kentucky, the daughter of former slaves Alexander Childers and Eliza Butler. She studied voice at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and in 1896 was awarded a diploma that was replaced by a bachelor’s degree in 1906 when the conservatory began granting degrees. The Oberlin Conservatory chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda, a national honor society, elected her a member in 1927. She studied voice further with Sydney Lloyd Wrightson at the Washington Conservatory of Music, with William Shakespeare, and with Oscar Devries at Chicago Musical College....

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DePreist, James Anderson (21 November 1936–08 February 2013), conductor and musician, was born in south Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to James DePreist and Ethel Anderson DePreist. His father died when James was six years old, and he was raised by his mother and her sister, the famous contralto ...

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Hillis, Margaret (1 Oct. 1921–4 Feb. 1998), choral director, orchestral conductor, and music educator, was born Margaret Eleanor Hillis in Kokomo, Indiana, the first of four children of lawyer Glen Hillis and Bernice Haynes Hillis, whose father was inventor and industrialist Elwood Haynes...

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Hughes, Revella Eudosia (02 July 1895–24 October 1987), musician, singer, and educator, was born in Huntington, West Virginia, the daughter of George W. Hughes, a postman, and Annie B. (maiden name unknown), a piano teacher and seamstress. At age five Hughes began studying piano with her mother and, at eight or nine, violin with a musician friend of her father’s. She attended Huntington’s segregated public schools. Disturbed when Hughes was racially harassed, her parents sent her to Hartshorn Memorial College (later part of Virginia Union University) in Richmond, which she attended from 1909 to 1911, graduating with a degree in music and elementary studies. She attended Oberlin High and Conservatory, graduating in 1915. In 1917 she earned a bachelor of music in piano from Howard’s Conservatory of Music, where she studied piano with LeRoy Tibbs and voice with conservatory director ...

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Peyton, Dave (1885– May 1955), bandleader, pianist, and columnist, was born in Louisiana. Details of his birth and family life are unknown. Peyton was a member of clarinetist Wilbur Sweatman’s trio in Chicago from about 1908 to 1912, when he became the music director at the Grand Theater. In 1914 he founded his own symphony orchestra of about fifty instrumentalists; they gave monthly concerts. On 29 October 1924 he opened the Plantation Cafe as the leader of the Symphonic Syncopators. They played for dancing and for musical revues, the latter including the show ...

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Schreiber, Frederick Charles (13 January 1895–15 January 1985), organist, conductor, and teacher, was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Charles Robert Darwin Schreiber, a doctor, and Anna (maiden name unknown). Both parents were musicians who delighted in playing piano, and they provided countless hours of musical enrichment for Frederick and his sister Ella. In this way Schreiber learned to appreciate the classical repertoire. Schreiber began formal study of the piano at age eight and wrote his first composition when he was just ten years old. He attended the Humanistic High School in Vienna, the Vienna University, and the State Academy of Music, studying composition, conducting, piano, and violoncello....

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Slonimsky, Nicolas (27 April 1894–25 December 1995), musicologist, conductor, and composer, was born Nikolai Leonidovich Slonimsky (the name is also given as Slonimski) in St. Petersburg, Russia, the son of Leonid Slonimsky, a prominent Russian scholar and writer, and Faina Vengerova. His paternal grandfather was the highly respected Hebrew scholar and scientist, Haim Selig Slonimsky. Determined to excel in all endeavors, and especially music, he received his first piano lessons at age six from his mother’s sister, the renowned pianist Isabelle Vengerova. He later enrolled in the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where from 1913 to 1918 he studied harmony and orchestration with Vasili Kalafati and Maximilian Steinberg, both of whom had studied under Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Leaving St. Petersburg following the outbreak of the Revolution, he first went to Kiev, where he worked as a rehearsal pianist at the Kiev Opera and, in 1919, took composition lessons with Reinhold Glière; then, for a brief period in 1920, he was in Yalta, working as a piano accompanist instructor at the Yalta Conservatory. He then toured Europe, eventually settling in Paris, where he served as secretary and rehearsal pianist to ...

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Slam Stewart © William P. Gottlieb; used by permission. William P. Gottlieb Collection, Library of Congress (LC-GLB23-0818 DLC).

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Stewart, Slam (21 September 1914–10 December 1987), jazz string bassist, bandleader, and educator, was born in Englewood, New Jersey. Nothing is known of his parents or his real name. He was raised as Leroy Elliott Stewart, but he said, without offering details, that a different name is on his birth certificate. His adopted father was a caretaker and gardener. Stewart started on violin at age six or seven and switched to string bass while in high school in Englewood....

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Tuckey, William (1709?–14 September 1781), singer, composer, and teacher, was born in Somersetshire, England, and arrived in America in late 1752 or early 1753. His parents’ names are unknown. All that is known of his life prior to his appointment as clerk of Trinity Church in New York on 31 January 1753 must be deduced from incidental references in Trinity’s vestry records, public notices of his subsequent activities, and the inscription on his tombstone in the yard of Christ Church, Philadelphia. According to that inscription, he died “in the 73d year of his age”; his birthdate may thus be placed between 15 September 1708 and 13 September 1709. In a notice in the 11 March 1771 issue of the ...