(b Matanzas, 17 Jan 1836; d Paris, 12/15 March 1918). Cuban violinist and composer. Pierre gave his birthdate as 31 December 1837, which might suggest that he misrepresented his age on entering the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied the violin with Alard, winning a premier prix in 1856. In 1857–8 he was first violinist in a quintet and also gave concerts, but then left Paris to return to Cuba, where he gave concerts with Gottschalk. Based in Paris again (1861–74), he increased his reputation as a soloist and chamber player. In 1866 he became a member of the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire; among his students were Enescu and Thibaud. He toured Europe, and from the early 1870s performed frequently with his wife, also a brilliant violinist. In 1874 or 1875 he went to the USA and then, after a brief visit to Paris at the end of 1876, to South America, where he toured widely, eventually becoming court violinist to the emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil; with Napoleão dos Santos, he founded the Sociedade de Conciertos Clásicos there. From 1889 he lived in Paris and later gave a masterclass at the Conservatoire. His few compositions, most of them highly influenced by European models such as Wieniawski and Vieuxtemps, include a violin concerto, string quartet, a Bolero for violin and orchestra, Variaciones for harpsichord and orchestra, six concert studies for violin and several pieces for violin and piano, including La bella cubana, a kind of Cuban national air based on the rhythms of the old Haitian guarachaand the Dominican merengue. His manuscripts are in the Biblioteca Nacional, Havana.
C.Pierre: Le Conservatoire national de musique et de déclamation: documents historiques et administratifs (Paris, 1900)
A.Carpentier: La música en Cuba (Mexico City, 1946, 3/1988)
H.Orovio: Diccionario de la música cubana (Havana, 1981)
AURELIO DE LA VEGA
(b Lebanon Goshen [now Lebanon], CT, 1789; d Knoxboro, NY, 25 March 1871). American instrument maker. He also sold ‘Bassoons, Clarionets, Flageolets, Flutes, Bugles, Serpents, Fifes’ in Utica, New York, from 1810 to 1853. He wrote The Instrumental Preceptor (Utica, 1816), the third instrumental method published in the USA, unique for its scoring in four parts. Though he may well have been the first American woodwind maker, his historical importance lies rather in the fact that the contents of his workshop, discovered almost intact in 1965, show the actual process of manufacture of pre-industrial boxwood instruments from raw materials to the finished product. Finished Whiteley instruments are in the Dayton C. Miller collection of flutes at the Library of Congress and the private collection of F.R. Selch, New York. There are also unfinished instruments, parts, tools, and models in the Selch collection.
(b Denver, 28 March 1890; d Doylestown, PA, 29 Dec 1967). American jazz and dance-band leader. He played the viola in the Denver SO from 1907 and in the San Francisco SO from 1914. During World War I he led a 40-piece navy band, playing march tunes by day and show music by night. Sensing new dimensions for popular music in the transition from ragtime to jazz, he organized a dance band in San Francisco in 1919, and later moved to Los Angeles and Atlantic City, New Jersey, before settling in New York in 1920. There he soon became the best-known American bandleader, particularly with his recording of Whispering and Japanese Sandman (1920, Vic.), which sold more than a million copies. By the early 1920s his lush orchestral style was widely copied on countless bandstands at home and abroad. He toured the British Isles in 1923 and Europe in 1926.
For his first extended concert tour of the USA Whiteman commissioned George Gershwin to write Rhapsody in Blue, which, as part of Whiteman’s concert called ‘An Experiment in Modern Music’, was performed with the composer as soloist in Aeolian Hall, New York, in 1924. Favourable publicity prompted Whiteman to stage seven performances of this kind between 1925 and 1938, thereby obtaining wide exposure for such American composers as Victor Herbert, William Grant Still and Duke Ellington (seeSymphonic jazz). Between 1928 and 1952 Whiteman’s orchestras were featured on many network radio shows and took part in several films, beginning with King of Jazz (1930). He provided music for six Broadway shows and produced more than 600 phonograph recordings. Later he served as music director for ABC.
Whiteman was a key figure in American popular music. While jazz purists accused him of diluting the character of early jazz for commercial purposes, less biassed observers applauded the high polish and versatility of his orchestras, which had to be as comfortable in the concert hall as at a college dance. He employed a number of talented musicians: in the original arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue three of his reed players were required to play a total of 17 instruments. Although his dance music tended to be sedate, there were occasional jazz solos from musicians such as Bix Beiderbecke, Frankie Trumbauer, Eddie Lang, Bunny Berigan and Jack Teagarden.
Whiteman’s musical memorabilia, including his large library of more than 3000 arrangements, were bequeathed to Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where they now form the Whiteman Collection.
P. Whiteman and M.M.McBride: Jazz (New York, 1926)
B. Rust: ‘Paul Whiteman: a Discography’, Recorded Sound, no.27 (1967), 219–28; no.28 (1967), 255
M. Harrison: ‘Around Paul Whiteman’, Jazz Monthly, no.185 (1970), 7
M. Harrison: A Jazz Retrospect (Newton Abbot, 1976, 2/1977), 184
C. Johnson: Paul Whiteman: a Chronology (Williamstown, MA, 1977, 2/1979)
T. DeLong: Pops: Paul Whiteman, King of Jazz (Piscataway, New Brunswick, NJ, 1983)