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Karl Friedrich Abel (1723–1787) by Thomas Gainsborough, exh. RA 1777 The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA, USA

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Abel, Karl Friedrich (1723–1787), composer and concert impresario, was born on 22 December 1723 in C?then, Saxony, one of six children. His father, Christian Ferdinand Abel (c.1683–1737), served as violinist for Johann Sebastian Bach, under whom Karl Friedrich may have studied at the ...

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W. B. Squire

revised by Nicholas Salwey

Abell, John (b. 1653, d. in or after 1716), singer and composer, was born in Aberdeenshire and was admitted as a 'gentleman of his majesty's chapel extraordinary' on 1 May 1679, about which time he is listed among the musicians of the king's private music, as singer, lutenist, and violinist. ...

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Abraham, Gerald Ernest Heal (1904–1988), musicologist, was born on 9 March 1904 in Newport, Isle of Wight, the only child of Ernest Abraham, manufacturer, and his wife, Dorothy Mary Heal, a jeweller's daughter. In spite of his strong musical interests, he planned a naval career, attending a naval crammer in ...

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Addinsell, Richard Stewart (1904–1977), composer and pianist, was born at 31 Woburn Square, London, on 13 January 1904, the younger of the two sons of William Arthur Addinsell, chartered accountant, and his wife, Annie Beatrice Richards. His adoring mother arranged for him to be educated at home, and this seemingly made him allergic to institutions thereafter. He went to ...

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W. B. Squire

revised by David J. Golby

Addison, John (c. 1766–1844), double bass player and composer, was born in London, the son of a village mechanic. As a child he showed considerable musical ability, learning to play a variety of instruments, including the flageolet, flute, bassoon, and violin. He was also self-taught in composition, and his early works include a set of ...

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Adler, Lawrence Cecil [Larry] (1914–2001), harmonica player and composer, was born on 10 February 1914 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, the son of Louis Adler, plumber, and his wife, Sadie Hack. His family were of Russian descent and changed their name from Zelakovitch to ...

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Lawrence Cecil Adler (1914–2001) by Ida Kar, 1950s ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Adson, John (bap. 1587?, d. 1640), musician and composer, may have been the Johannes Adson baptized at Watford, Northamptonshire, on 24 January 1587. Nothing else is known of his origins. By 1604, well before the usual age to finish an apprenticeship (which was about twenty-four), he was employed as a cornetto player at the court of ...

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Aitken, Laurel [real name Oliver Anthony Stephens] (1925–2005), singer, songwriter, and record producer, was born on 22 April 1925, in Jamaica, one of six children of a Jamaican father and a Cuban mother. His early years were spent in Havana, Cuba, but the family moved to ...

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Alcock, John (1715–1806), organist and composer, was born at the family home, Crane Court, St Peter's Hill, London, on 11 April 1715, the third of the eight children of Daniel Alcock (bap. 1686) and his wife, Mary. They lived only a stone's throw from ...

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See Alcock, John

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Aleyn, John [J. Alanus] (d. 1373), composer, probably came from Pattishall, Northamptonshire. He is first recorded on 29 April 1361 in possession of a chantry in the church of St James Garlickhythe, London. By Michaelmas 1362 he was a clerk and chaplain in the household chapel of ...

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Allan [Allen], James [Jimmy] (1734–1810), Northumbrian piper and rogue, was born at Hepple, Northumberland, probably in March 1734, and baptized at Rothbury, Northumberland, on 21 April 1734, the son of William Allan or Allen, also known as Wull Faa, a noted vermin hunter and performer on the Northumbrian small pipes. ...

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Allen, Sir Hugh Percy (1869–1946), musicologist and conductor, was born at Reading on 23 December 1869, the youngest of the seven children of John Herbert Allen, who was in business with Huntley and Palmers of Reading. His mother, Rebecca, was the daughter of ...

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Allen, William Ernest (Chesney) (1894–1982), comedian and singer, was born at 7 Hamballa Road, Battersea, London, on 5 April 1894, the son of Edwin Allen, a prosperous builder, and his wife, Louisa, née Cridland. Allen's first employment on leaving school was as a solicitor's clerk. In 1912, at the age of eighteen, he made his début as an actor in repertory at the ...

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Alline, Henry (1748–1784), evangelist and hymn writer, was born in Newport, Rhode Island, on 14 June 1748, the second son of William Alline and Rebecca Clark. His father, who was probably a miller, responded to the announcements of free land in Nova Scotia...

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R. H. Legge

revised by David J. Golby

Alvars, Elias Parish- (1808–1849), harpist and composer, was born on 28 February 1808 at Teignmouth, where his father was an organist. His earliest teachers on the harp were N. C. Bochsa (from 1820) and subsequently F. J. Dizi and Théodore Labarre in Paris...

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Alwyn, William (1905–1985), composer, was born William Alwyn Smith on 7 November 1905 at 54 Kettering Road, Northampton, the son of William James Smith and his wife, Ada Tyler Tompkins. Northampton was also the birthplace of the composers Edmund Rubbra and Malcolm Arnold...