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White, Josh(ua Daniel) [Pinewood Tom]



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White, Josh(ua Daniel) [Pinewood Tom]


(b Greenville, SC, 11 Feb 1915; d Manhasset, NY, 5 Sept 1969). American blues, gospel and folk singer and guitarist. He grew up in a religious family, and as a child in South Carolina led street evangelists and blind gospel singers, from whom he learnt a wide range of songs, and eventually a prodigious guitar technique. He was only 13 when he recorded with Blind Joe Taggart, singing falsetto and playing guitar on There’s a hand writing on the wall (1928, Para.). In 1932 he commenced a long recording career, often using the name Pinewood Tom for blues issues, for example Mean Mistreater Mama (1934, Ban.), made with Leroy Carr; as Joshua White, the ‘Singing Christian’, he recorded such titles as There’s a man goin’ around taking names (1933, Ban.). He possessed a light voice with considerable range and used a glottal stop to great, and sometimes excessive, effect. By 1940 he was well established in New York, where he performed with Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, the Union Boys and his own group the Carolinians, with which he recorded some rather inauthentic work songs, such as Told my Cap’n (1940, Col.). His recording of the indictment of lynching, Strange Fruit (1941, Key.) was issued in an entire album of socially committed songs, but in general White’s work became more sophisticated, appealing to a broad audience. He performed at the White House, teamed with the popular torch singer Libby Holman, appeared in the film The Crimson Canary and sang with Paul Robeson, popularizing folk songs and blues such as The House of the Rising Sun (1957, ABC). Although by the 1950s he suffered considerable pain from wounds to his fingers, he still played with technical brilliance, but his cabaret-styled approach to music alienated the blues audience.

BIBLIOGRAPHY


SouthernB

R. Shelton and W. Raim: The Josh White Song Book (New York, 1963)

M. Jones: ‘Josh White Looks Back’, Blues Unlimited (1968), no.55, p.16–17; no.56, p.15–16

PAUL OLIVER


White, Matthew


(d by 16 Oct 1641). English composer. A minister from Wells, he was admitted Gospeller of the Chapel Royal on 2 November 1613. His signature against a minute of a Chapel Vestry meeting on 19 May 1603 was added at the time of his admission. In 1614 he resigned his place, and on 2 July 1619, with Cuthbert Joyner, Clerk of the Vestry, a ‘Matthew Wight of London’ received a grant of the ‘surveyorship’ of lands belonging to rectories, vicarages and rural prebends in England and Wales. He took the BMus and DMus at Oxford in July 1629. By 22 September 1635 and until at least 20 March 1639 he was vicar-choral at Hereford Cathedral; in 1640 he was at St Nicholas's, Hereford. Catches by ‘Mr White’ are in the first and subsequent editions of John Hilton's Catch that Catch Can (1652). An incomplete anthem by ‘White’, If ye love me, is in the British Library. Other anthems by Robert Parsons (i), Mundy, Robert White and William White have been variously attributed to Matthew White, but the only extant anthem that appears to be his is the incomplete Zache stood forth (GB-Lcm).

BIBLIOGRAPHY


AshbeeR, viii

BDECM

E.F. Rimbault: The Old Cheque-Book or Book of Remembrance of the Chapel Royal (London, 1872/R)

R.T. Daniel and P. le Huray: The Sources of English Church Music, 1549–1660, EECM, suppl.i (1972)

PETER LE HURAY/ANDREW ASHBEE


White, Maude Valérie


(b Dieppe, 23 June 1855; d London, 2 Nov 1937). English composer She studied composition with George Macfarren and Frank Davenport at the RAM in London from 1876 to 1881. In 1879 she was the first woman to win the coveted Mendelssohn Scholarship and she began to attract critical acclaim in the early 1880s when Charles Santley started to champion her songs at the Popular Concerts and the Crystal Palace. After a period in Chile (1881–2) she returned to London where she embarked on a professional musical career, encouraged by patrons such as May Gaskell, Spencer Lyttelton and Frank Schuster. In 1883 she spent six months studying with Robert Fuchs in Vienna. From the 1890s she organized regular concerts, largely of her own music, with the aid of friends and colleagues. From 1901, prompted by both recurrent ill-health and her love of travel, White spent much of each year in Italy. In 1914 her ballet The Enchanted Heart was rehearsed for performance in Rome, whilst an orchestral suite from the work was scheduled by Henry Wood for the 1915 Promenade Concerts. In the event, both performances had to be cancelled. A proficient linguist and engaging writer, White published translations of several literary texts and two volumes of memoirs: Friends and Memories (London, 1914) and My Indian Summer (London, 1932).

Apart from her ballet an unfinished opera, some early choral works and a few piano pieces, White’s concentrated on writing songs. She was attracted to a wide range of lyrics, setting Spanish, Italian, French, German and English poetry from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, varying her musical style to suit each chosen text. Her settings of Suckling and Herrick, for example, have an old-fashioned quality in their figuration, lightness of texture and narrow vocal and pianistic ranges, while her German settings tend to use an approach closer to that of mid-19th-century Lieder. White nevertheless has a distinctive musical voice, which clearly expresses the passion and unashamed emotion with which she lived her life. It is characterised by careful word setting, expansive melodies, a sense of rhythmic propulsion and an avoidance of clear-cut cadences, as can be heard in one of her most enduring songs So we'll go no more a'roving (Byron). Music that White experienced during her travels to South America, Scandinavia, North Africa, Russia and in Europe frequently influenced the rhythms and melodies of her own music; she also arranged German and Italian folksongs. In several later songs, such as Isaotta Blanzesmano (d'Annunzio) and Le Foyer (Verlaine), White created a languid, dream-like atmosphere through improvisatory motifs or repeated figures of open fourths or fifths. Although her music had fallen from critical favour by the end of her life, as part of the general reaction against Victorian art, its influence had already been heard in the songs of younger British composers such as Vaughan Williams and Quilter.


WORKS


(selective list)

Stage: Smaranda (op, 3, A. Strettell), 1894/5–1911, unfinished; The Enchanted Heart (ballet), 1912–13; incid scores

Vocal: c245 partsongs, duets and songs incl., Farewell, if ever fondest prayer (Byron) (1874); Zwei Lieder von Heine (1878); Two Songs (R. Herrick and the Marquis of Montrose) (?1879); Absent Yet Present (E. Bulwer-Lytton) (1880); I prithee send me back my heart (J. Suckling) (1880); Chantez, chantez jeune inspirée (V. Hugo) (1881); To Music to Becalm his Fever (Herrick); To Mary (P.B. Shelley) (1882); The Devout Lover (W.H. Pollock) (1883); My Soul is an Enchanted Boat (Shelley) (1883); Ich habe gelebt und geliebt (J.C.F. von Schiller) (1884); Four Songs from Tennyson's In Memoriam (1885); Maude Valérie White's Album of German Songs (Various) (1885); To God (Herrick) (1886); Hidden Love (D. Kaerlighed and B. Bjørnson) (?1887); Hungarian Gypsy Song (A. Petöfi) (?1887); Ich-bas (A. Sully Prudhomme) (?1887); New Albums of Songs with German and English Words, vols.1 and 2 (Various) (?1888); So we'll go no more a'roving (Byron) (1888); The Throstle (Tennyson) (1890); John Anderson, my Jo (R. Burns) (1891); 6 Volkslieder (1893); Slumber Song (W. Sharp) (1902); Isaotta Blanzesmano (G. d'Annunzio) (1906); 3 Chansons Tziganes (L. Tolstoy) (1913); Two Songs (Verlaine, Hugo) (1924); Leavetaking (W. Watson) (1927)

Inst: Rondo scherzando, pf (1879); 8 South American Airs, pf duet (1882); Pictures from Abroad, 14 pieces, pf (1892); Naissance d’amour, vc, pf (1893); Serbian Dances, orch, ?1916; other piano pieces

Principal publishers: Boosey, Chappell, S. Lucas, Ricordi, Weber

BIBLIOGRAPHY


A. de Ternant: ‘Short Sketches of Contemporary Women Composers: Maude Valérie White’, Englishwoman’s Review (15 Feb 1887), 58–9

G. Löwe: ‘Ballad Writers: XV Maude Valérie White’, Musical Standard (28 Feb 1914), 198–200

S. Fuller: ‘Maude Valérie White’, The Pandora Guide to Women Composers: Britain and the United States, 1629–present (London, 1994)

S. Fuller: Women Composers during the British Musical Renaissance, 1880–1914 (diss., U. of London, 1998)

SOPHIE FULLER




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