(b Talmerton, PA, 27 April 1937). American organist. After early studies at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, he entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with Alexander McCurdy. He continued his studies with Robert Baker at the School of Sacred Music of Union Theological Seminary, receiving the SMM (Master of Sacred Music) degree in 1968. Weaver’s church posts have included director of music at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, New York (1959–70), and Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York (from 1970). An eminent teacher, he has served both the Curtis Institute of Music as head of the organ department (from 1970) and the Juilliard School as chairman of the organ department (from 1987). In 1989 he received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Peabody and in 1995 an honorary DMus from Westminster College, Pennsylvania. Known for the precision and technical finish of his playing, he has given frequent recitals since his début in 1959 and has often performed in concert with his wife, the flautist Marianne Weaver. In 1987 he performed at the International Congress of Organists in Cambridge. In addition to many church anthems his compositions include Toccata for Organ (1958), Passacaglia on a Theme by Dunstable (1978), Fantasia for Organ (1977), Rhapsody for Flute and Organ (1966), Prelude and Fugue in E minor and Dialogues for Flute and Organ. His recordings include music by Liszt and Mozart. He has also been active as president of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians (1984–6), and as a member of the Presbyterian Church Hymnal Committee and the North American Academy of Liturgy.
Weaver, Robert Lamar
(b Dahlonega, GA, 26 July 1923). American musicologist. He began studies at Emory University and, after service in Europe with the US Army Signal Corps Intelligence (1942–6), completed the BA and MA in musicology at Columbia University with P.H. Lang. He went on to doctoral work with W.S. Newman and Glen Haydon at the University of North Carolina, earning the doctorate in 1958 with a dissertation on Florentine comic operas of the 17th century. He began his teaching career at Catawba College, and subsequently taught at George Peabody College (1960–75), and at the University of Louisville (1975–89). Under his chairmanship the Louisville music history department enrolled the first students in a joint doctoral programme in musicology with the University of Kentucky. He was a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina (1980), and won the President’s Award for Outstanding Research and Creativity, University of Louisville (1987). In 1963 he founded the south-central chapter of the AMS.
Weaver’s major scholarly writings have dealt with Italian music, with particular emphasis on the history, sources and performance of Florentine opera from the late 16th to the end of the 18th century. His two-volume monograph on the Florentine theatre (co-written with Norma Wright Weaves) presents a new interpretation of the historical order of the Florentine dramaturgical academies and a clearer definition of the Leopoldine school of Tuscan music. In 1987 he discovered and saved from dispersal more than 450 music manuscripts from between 1738 and 1820 that had comprised the private music library of the Ricasoli family of Florence. He was instrumental in the acquisition by the University of Louisville music library of this collection, and, since then, of many other rare items. He has prepared editions of chamber works by Giordani, Rolla and others and a facsimile edition of cantatas by Atto and Alessandro Melani. He founded and is general editor of the series University of Louisville Publications in Musicology.
S.Parisi, ed.: Music in the Theater, Church and Villa: Essays in Honor of Robert Lamar Weaver and Norma Wright Weaver (Warren, MI, 1999)
Webb, Chick [William Henry]
(b Baltimore, 10 Feb 1909; d Baltimore, 16 June 1939). American jazz and popular drummer and bandleader. He moved to New York around 1925 and from January 1927 led a group at the Savoy Ballroom that later became one of the outstanding bands of the swing period. Although the group did not include any prominent soloists during its years of prolific recording activity, it developed a distinctive style thanks in part to the compositions and arrangements provided by Edgar Sampson, for example, Let’s get together, Stomping at the Savoy (both 1934, Col.), Don’t be that way and Blue Lou (both 1934, Decca), and especially to Webb’s forceful drumming. In 1934 Ella Fitzgerald was engaged as the band’s singer, and it soon achieved popular success with performances of such tunes as A-tisket, A-tasket (1938, Decca). Webb’s band remained at the Savoy intermittently during the late 1920s and held long residencies there in the 1930s, regularly defeating rival bands in the ballroom’s famous cutting contests. After Webb’s early death, Fitzgerald led the group until 1942, when it disbanded.
Webb, a diminutive hunchback crippled by tuberculosis of the spine, was universally admired by drummers for his forceful sense of swing, accurate technique, control of dynamics and imaginative breaks and fills. Although he was unable to read music, he committed to memory the arrangements played by the band and directed performances from a raised platform in the centre of the ensemble, giving cues with his drumming. Using specially constructed bass-drum pedals and cymbal holders, he could range effortlessly over a large drum kit that offered a wide selection of colours. Unlike drummers of the 1920s, he used the woodblocks and cowbell only for momentary effects, and varied his playing with rim shots, temple-block work and cymbal crashes. In his celebrated two- to four-bar fills, he abandoned earlier jazz drumming formulae for varied mixtures of duple- and triple-metre patterns. Webb was seldom given to long solos, but his style is well represented on Go Harlem (1936, Decca) and Liza (1938, Decca), a superior response to Gene Krupa’s solo performance with Benny Goodman’s band on Sing, sing, sing.
‘The Rise of a Crippled Genius’, Down Beat, iv/12 (1937), 4; v (1938), no.1, p.9; no.2, p.9