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Bauer, Marion Eugenie (15 August 1887–09 August 1955), composer, teacher, and advocate of modern music, was the daughter of Jacques Bauer and Julie Heyman. Her father was an amateur musician who earned his living as a grocer, and her mother was a language teacher. Born in Walla Walla, Washington, Bauer began her musical study in Portland, Oregon, where the family moved after the death of her father in 1890. Soon after her high school graduation in 1903, Bauer moved to New York City to live with her eldest sister, Emilie Frances, a pianist and music critic, who provided her with financial support and encouragement. During this period, Bauer studied piano and composition with Henry Holden Huss....

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Bradford, Perry (14 February 1895–20 April 1970), blues and vaudeville songwriter, publisher, and musical director, was born John Henry Perry Bradford in Montgomery, Alabama, the son of Adam Bradford, a bricklayer and tile setter, and Bella (maiden name unknown), a cook. Standard reference books give his year of birth as 1893, but Bradford’s autobiography gives 1895. Early in his youth Bradford learned to play piano by ear. In 1901 the family moved to Atlanta, where his mother cooked meals for prisoners in the adjacent Fulton Street jail. There he was exposed to the inmates’ blues and folk singing. He attended Molly Pope School through the sixth grade and claimed to have attended Atlanta University for three years (there being no local high school). This is chronologically inconsistent, however, with his claim to have joined Allen’s New Orleans Minstrels in the fall of 1907, traveling to New Orleans for Mardi Gras performances in February 1908 and then moving on to Oklahoma....

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Dorsey, Thomas Andrew (01 July 1899–23 January 1993), blues performer, gospel singer, and composer, was born in Villa Rica, Georgia, the son of Thomas Madison Dorsey, a preacher, and Etta Plant Spencer. Dorsey’s mother, whose first husband had died, owned approximately fifty acres of farm land. Dorsey lived in somewhat trying circumstances as his parents moved first to Atlanta and Forsyth, Georgia, and then back to Villa Rica during the first four years of his life. In Villa Rica the Dorsey family settled into a rural lifestyle supported by marginal farming that was slightly mitigated by his father’s pastoral duties....

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Engel, Carl (21 July 1883–06 May 1944), composer, editor, and librarian, was born in Paris, France, the son of German parents Joseph C. Engel and Gertrude Seeger. Engel studied music, philosophy, and psychology at the Universities of Strasbourg and Munich. His musical training included individual instruction on the violin and piano and composition with Ludwig Thuille. The Engel family immigrated to the United States in 1905, settling in New York City. Engel quickly affiliated with the city’s young composers and musicians interested in new music and, later, their New Music Society of America, a group dedicated to the performance of American works....

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Farwell, Arthur (23 April 1872–20 January 1952), composer, author, and teacher, was born Arthur George Farwell in St. Paul, Minnesota, the son of George Lyman Farwell, a hardware wholesaler, and Sara Gardner Wyer. Farwell studied electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating in 1893. Then, as a result of his exposure to high-quality music in Boston during his years at MIT, he studied music with Homer Norris in Boston from 1893 to 1896. He then traveled to Europe where he studied with Engelbert Humperdinck and Hans Pfitzner in Berlin and, briefly, with Alexandre Guilmant in Paris....

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Feather, Leonard (13 September 1914–22 September 1994), jazz writer and jazz and blues promoter, producer, and songwriter, was born Leonard Geoffrey Feather in London, England, the son of Nathan Feather, the owner of a chain of clothing stores, and Felicia Zelinski. Feather described his upbringing thus: “In these upper-middle-class Jewish circles conformity was expected in every area of life.” He studied classical piano and clarinet while teaching himself to play pop songs on piano. At age fifteen, deeply moved by trumpeter ...

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Fowler, Wally (15 February 1917–03 June 1994), gospel music promoter, singer, and songwriter, was born John Wallace Fowler near Cartersville, Georgia, the son of Joseph Fletcher Fowler, a well-established cotton farmer; his mother’s name is not known. By the time Wally Fowler was ready for school, the Great Depression had wrecked his father’s fortunes, and he and his sisters grew up working as sharecroppers. The Fowler family, however, loved music; his mother played an old pump organ, and his father helped organize Saturday night gospel singings in the front rooms of neighborhood houses. “That’s when I really learned gospel music,” he recalled. What formal training the singers got came from J. M. Henson, an Atlanta publisher and singing school teacher, who came to the area to conduct singing schools, using the seven-shape note system that was popular throughout the South at that time....

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Herrmann, Eduard Emil (18 December 1850–24 April 1937), violinist, composer, and string quartet director, was born in Oberrotweil, duchy of Baden (now Baden-Württemberg, Germany), the son of Eduard Stephan Herrmann, a schoolteacher, and Amalie Knoebel. At an early age Eduard was trained musically by his father and later was given a stipend by the duke of Baden for his further education. In Freiburg he studied violin, then in 1864 enrolled at the Stuttgart music conservatory, where he was encouraged to continue by Franz Liszt. His quest for advanced musical training and broadened intellectual opportunities brought him in 1868 to the Berlin conservatory (Hochschule für Musik), where he became a protégé of the renowned violinist Joseph Joachim....

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Howe, Mary (04 April 1882–14 September 1964), composer, pianist, and music activist, was born Mary Carlisle in Richmond, Virginia, the daughter of Calderon Carlisle, a lawyer, and Kate Thomas. Howe was educated at home by tutors, including a piano teacher, Herminie Seron, who provided her with a thorough grounding in music theory and piano. Howe traveled abroad frequently with her family. During a visit to Europe in 1904 with her mother, she studied piano for a brief and intense period of time with Richard Burmeister in Dresden, Germany. In 1910 she began studying with Ernest Hutcheson and Harold Randolph at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore and, at Hutcheson’s suggestion, studied composition with Gustav Strube. In 1922 Howe earned a diploma in composition from Peabody, for which she presented a full program of her own works. The concert featured her Sonata for Violin and Piano, several piano solos, choral works, and a group of songs, including “If I Am Slow Forgetting,” “Cossack Cradle Song” (later renamed “Berceuse Cossaque”), “There Has Fallen a Splendid Tear,” and “O Mistress Mine.”...

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Hall Johnson Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1947. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108272).

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Johnson, Hall (12 March 1888–30 April 1970), composer, arranger, and choral conductor, was born Francis Hall Johnson in Athens, Georgia, the son of William Decker Johnson, an AME minister, and Alice (maiden name unknown). Music was an important part of Hall Johnson’s childhood. He heard the singing of his grandmother and other former slaves as they sang the old spirituals in his father’s Methodist church. This grounding in the original performance of Negro spirituals was to represent a significant influence on his later life. Johnson, exhibiting an early interest in music, received solfeggio lessons from his father and piano lessons from an older sister. As a teenager he developed an interest in the violin and taught himself to play....

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Maretzek, Max (28 June 1821–14 May 1897), opera impresario, conductor, and composer, was born Maximilian Mareczek in Brünn, Moravia (now Brno, Czechoslovakia). His formal education emphasized literature and the classics; he was also instructed on the piano and pursued general music studies. He enrolled at the University of Vienna at the age of seventeen, first to study medicine, then law (both professions were acceptable to his parents). He discarded both, however, and with the encouragement of the Austrian music historian and teacher Joseph Fischof turned his attention to music, his first love. His major field of concentration was composition, which he studied with the composer and conductor Ignaz Xaver Ritter von Seyfried. These studies resulted in his first major work, the opera ...

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Nabokov, Nicolas (17 April 1903–06 April 1978), composer, teacher, and music promoter, was born in Lubcha, Novogrudok, in the Minsk region of Belorussia, the son of Dimitri Dimitrievich Nabokov, a court chamberlain and justice of the peace, and Lydia Falz-Fein. In 1911 his family moved to St. Petersburg, and from 1913 to 1920 Nabokov studied composition privately with Vladimir Ivanovich Rebikov. He spent the 1920s and early 1930s in Germany and France, first at the Stuttgart Conservatory (1920–1922) and then at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik (1922–1923), where he studied with Paul Juon and Ferruccio Busoni. From 1923 to 1926 he attended the Sorbonne in Paris, from which he earned the degree of License ès lettres. Following graduation, Nabokov worked until 1933 in both Paris and Germany as a private teacher of languages, composition, and literature. During this period he got his first important break as a composer, a commission from Sergei Diaghilev (partly as a result of Stravinsky’s endorsement) for the ballet-oratorio ...

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Pastor, Tony (28 May 1832–26 August 1908), variety performer and impresario, was born Antonio Pastori in New York City, the son of Antonio Pastori, a theater violinist who also ran a fruit store and barber shop, and his wife (name unknown), who ran a perfumery and, for ten years after her husband’s death, a saloon. Pastor attended New York public schools, but by age eleven he was singing for a temperance group. At thirteen he was a blackface minstrel. In 1846 his father hoped to stop his career by sending him to live on a farm, but by the year’s end he was an “infant prodigy” at Barnum’s Museum in New York. Apprenticed to a circus, Pastor learned tumbling, riding, and mimicry; he became a clown and developed a “rube” act. From 1851 till its collapse in 1853 he was the Nathans-Sands Circus’s ringmaster....

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Rose, Billy (06 September 1899–10 February 1966), songwriter, show business impresario, and philanthropist, was born on the Lower East Side of New York City, the son of David Rosenberg, a button salesman, and Fannie Wernick. He was born William Samuel Rosenberg, according to most biographical sources, though one source states he adopted that name in school after being born Samuel Wolf Rosenberg. He grew up in the Bronx and attended public schools there, winning junior high school medals for sprinting and English. Medals and honors were important as proofs of stature and worth to Rose, who never grew taller than five feet three inches. In the High School of Commerce, he became an outstanding student of the Gregg system of shorthand, winning first a citywide competition (1917) and then a national competition (1918). In 1918 he left high school shortly before graduation to become head of the stenographic department of the War Industries Board, headed by ...

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See Stamps, V. O.

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Stamps, V. O. (18 September 1892–19 August 1940), and Frank Henry Stamps (07 October 1896–12 February 1965), composers, singers, and music promoters, were born in Simpsonville, Upshur County, Texas, the sons of W. O. Stamps and Florence Corine Rosser, community leaders from Upshur County, where W. O. Stamps ran several sawmills and founded the community of Stamps. He later served two terms in the Texas legislature and for a time acted as head of the Texas prison system. Both V. O., born Virgil Oliver Stamps, and Frank Stamps, two of six brothers, were introduced to gospel music when their father hired a music teacher to conduct singing schools in the community. V. O. was fourteen at the time; Frank, six. Both brothers soon found they had an aptitude for the seven-shape note music taught in the school, a type of music that was widely popular in Texas at the time....