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Beck, Johann Heinrich (12 September 1856–26 May 1924), conductor, composer, and violinist, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Charles Beck, a businessman, and Rebecca Butler. He was one of five children, all boys, all of whom played the violin. He was educated in Cleveland and spent most of his life there, although he attended the Leipzig Conservatory from 1879 to 1882. He made his acclaimed European debut at the Leipzig Gewandhaus as violinist in his own String Quartet in C Minor. His diploma read in part: “In Theory Mr. Beck possesses highly advanced knowledge, in practical Composition, ...

Article

Bergmann, Carl (12 April 1821–10 August 1876), conductor, cellist, and composer, was born in Ebersbach, Saxony, the son of middle-class parents. His talent for music manifested itself early, and he was a pupil of Adolph Zimmerman at Zittau as early as 1827 and later studied with the organist-composer Adolph Hesse at Breslau. By 1842 he was playing cello and occasionally conducting the orchestra in Breslau and in these capacities toured central and eastern European cities between 1842 and 1848. His early compositions, written before 1848, apparently included an opera and a symphony....

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Hupfeld, Charles Frederick (1788–15 July 1864), violinist, conductor, and composer, was born in Germany. The identities of his parents are not known. He was probably related to Bernhard Hupfeld, a composer and violinist trained in Italy, who served as director of music at the University of Marburg. Charles Hupfeld was closely associated with Henry Hupfeld, Bernhard’s eldest son, who was also a violinist. Charles Hupfeld arrived in Philadelphia as an excellent violinist and probably studied the violin in Germany, but no details of his life there are known....

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Johnson, Francis (16 June 1792–06 April 1844), musician, bandleader, and composer, also known as Frank Johnson, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Little is known of his youth and parentage. Most sources cite Martinique as his birthplace, but Stephen Charpié's (1999) work with baptismal records establishes his birth date, birthplace, and status as a free African American. Though skilled at a number of instruments, Johnson seems to have first attained local prominence as a fiddler at dances, parties, and the like; there is some evidence that he played with Matthew “Matt” Black's band in the late 1810s. Johnson also seems to have received some limited instruction during this period from Richard Willis, an Irish immigrant who later directed the West Point military band and who introduced the keyed bugle (also known as a Kent bugle) to the United States....

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Francis Johnson. Courtesy of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania.

Article

Piron, Armand John (16 August 1888–17 February 1943), 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. Piron 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....

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Sobolewski, Edward (01 October 1804–17 May 1872), conductor, composer, and violinist, was born Johann Friedrich Eduard Sobolewski in Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia), the son of Johann Sobolewski, an oboe player and soldier, and Amalia Louisa Corittkin. His early education included study with Königsberg musicians such as Friedrich Dorn, organist Wilhelm Jensen, composer and conductor Friedrich Selter, and August Gotthold, the director of the Frederick College. At age sixteen he was first violinist in Zander’s Quartet, a group established in 1791. He studied composition with Carl Friederich Zelter in Berlin and Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden (1821–1824). In 1830 he became director of music at the theater in Königsberg and became the cantor of the Altstädtische Kirche in 1835. When the Philharmonische Gesellschaft was founded in 1838, Sobolewski was selected as the conductor. He also conducted the chorus of the Academy of Music (from 1843). He served as music critic of the ...

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Stoessel, Albert Frederic (11 October 1894–12 May 1943), conductor, violinist, and composer, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Albert John Stoessel, a theater musician, and Alfreda Wiedmann. Studying violin first with his father and then with Hugo Olk, a former student of Joseph Joachim in Berlin and concertmaster of the St. Louis Orchestra, the musical prodigy’s public education ended with the eighth grade. A precocious talent sharpened by family nurturing and community support, fifteen-year-old Albert entered the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, studying violin with Emanuel Wirth and Willy Hess (boy wonder soloist with ...