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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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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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Bassano, Alvise (d. 1554), musician and instrument maker, was presumably born in Bassano, near Venice, in the late fifteenth century, the second son of Maestro Jeronimo (d. 1539?), known as Piva (‘bagpipe’). By 1515 he was playing in Venice, and he served in ...

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See Bassano, Alvise

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Stanley Black (1913–2002) by unknown photographer, 1958 © Empics

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Black, Stanley (1913–2002), bandleader, pianist, and composer, was born in the London Hospital, Whitechapel, London, on 14 June 1913, the son of Lewis Schwartz, shoe dealer, and his wife, Sophia, formerly Diamond. He began taking piano lessons at the age of seven, and went on to study at the ...

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Harry Blech (1909–1999) by Elliott & Fry, 1958 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Blech, Harry [formerly Hirsch] (1909–1999), conductor and violinist, was born in the East End of London in June 1909, the son of Henri Blech, provisions merchant and commercial traveller, and his wife, Sophie Stock. Shortly after he was born his father went to ...

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Norbert Brainin (1923–2005) by Milein Cosman, 1960s [Amadeus Quartet: Brainin (left) with (left to right) Siegmund Nissel, Peter Schidlof, and Martin Lovett] © Milein Cosman / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Brainin, Norbert (1923–2005), violinist, was born on 12 March 1923 in Vienna, Austria, the son of Adolf Brainin (d. 1930), furrier, and his wife, Sophie (d. 1938). He was raised in the Jewish faith. Even though his parents must have felt the impact of the economic downturn that brought the country to its financial knees in the early 1920s, he seems to have enjoyed all the trappings of a relatively wealthy central European childhood. Like others from similar backgrounds, he was introduced to music at an early age. As a boy of six he heard the thirteen-year-old ...

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Cervetto [formerly Basevi], Giacobbe (1680/81–1783), cellist, was born in Italy, probably in Venice, in November 1680 or 1681, of Jewish parents. His original surname was Basevi, but he adopted the name Cervetto before he settled in London between 1728 and 1738. He had made several visits to ...

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Cohen, Eta (1916–2012), violin teacher and author, was born on 13 March 1916 at 26 Azalea Terrace North, Sunderland, one of four daughters of Isaac Cohen, master jeweller, and his wife, Marie, née Hurwitz. Her parents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania. Her father had a passion for music, and when ...

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Solomon Cutner (1902–1988) by unknown photographer © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Cutner, Solomon [performing name Solomon] (1902–1988), pianist, was born on 9 August 1902 at 39 Fournier Street, in the East End of London, the youngest in the family of four sons and three daughters of Harris Cutner (formerly Schneiderman), master tailor, the grandson of a Polish émigré from ...

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Jacqueline Mary Du Pré (1945–1987) by Godfrey MacDomnic, 1967 © Godfrey MacDomnic / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Du Pré, Jacqueline Mary (1945–1987), cellist, was born at 165 Banbury Road, Oxford, on 26 January 1945, the younger daughter and the second of the three children of Derek du Pré, a financial writer and editor, and Iris Maud, née Greep, a pianist and composer of music for children, who taught at the ...

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Ellington, Ray [real name Harry Pitts Brown] (1916–1985), drummer, singer, entertainer, and bandleader, was born on 17 March 1916 at 155 Kennington Road, Kennington, London, the second son and youngest of the four children of Harry Pitts Brown (c.1877–1920), a music-hall comedian and entertainer, and his wife, ...

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Galliardello, Mark Anthony (d. 1585), musician, was born in or near Venice into a Jewish musical dynasty whose Italian surname was probably Alberti. When at the end of the 1530s Henry VIII authorized Thomas Cromwell to effect an improvement in his musical establishment at court, ...

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Geldray, Max (1916–2004), harmonica player, was born Max Leon van Gelder in Amsterdam on 12 February 1916, the first child of Leon van Gelder, commercial traveller, and his wife, Margarite, née Baillosterky. His father was a hard-working perfume salesman for a Spanish company, but political upheavals caused his earnings to fluctuate wildly. The young ...