Just click below on one of them 🙂
Just click below on one of them 🙂
Thomas Wright Waller was the youngest of 11 children (five survived childhood) born to Adeline Locket Waller and Reverend Edward Martin Waller in New York City.
He started playing the piano when he was six and graduated to the organ of his father’s church four years later.
His mother instructed him as a youth. At the age of 14 he was playing the organ at Harlem’s Lincoln Theater and within 12 months he had composed his first rag. Waller’s first piano solos (“Muscle Shoals Blues” and “Birmingham Blues”) were recorded in October 1922 when he was 18 years old.
He was the prize pupil, and later friend and colleague, of stride pianist James P. Johnson.
Overcoming opposition from his clergyman father, Waller became a professional pianist at 15, working in cabarets and theaters. In 1918 he won a talent contest playing Johnson’s “Carolina Shout”, a song he learned from watching a player piano play it.
Waller ultimately became one of the most popular performers of his era, finding critical and commercial success in his homeland and in Europe. He was also a prolific songwriter and many songs he wrote or co-wrote are still popular, such as “Honeysuckle Rose”, “Ain’t Misbehavin'” and “Squeeze Me”.
Fellow pianist and composer Oscar Levant dubbed Waller “the black Horowitz”. Waller is believed to have composed many novelty tunes in the 1920s and 1930s and sold them for relatively small sums, the attributions of which, on becoming widely known, went only to a later composer and lyricist.
Standards alternatively and sometimes controversially attributed to Waller include “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby”.
Biographer Barry Singer conjectured that this jazz classic was written by Waller and lyricist Andy Razaf, and provides a description of the sale given by Waller to the NY Post in 1929—for $500, to a white songwriter, ultimately for use in a financially successful show (consistent with Jimmy McHugh’s contributions first to Harry Delmar’s Revels, 1927, and then to Blackbirds, 1928).
He further supports the conjecture, noting that early handwritten manuscripts in the Dana Library Institute of Jazz Studies of “Spreadin’ Rhythm Around” (Jimmy McHugh ©1935) are in Waller’s hand.
Jazz historian P.S. Machlin comments that the Singer conjecture has “considerable [historical] justification”.
Waller’s son Maurice wrote in his 1977 biography of his father that Waller had once complained on hearing the song, and came from upstairs to admonish him never to play it in his hearing because he had had to sell it when he needed money.
Maurice Waller’s biography similarly notes his father’s objections to hearing “On the Sunny Side of the Street” playing on the radio.
Waller recorded “I Can’t Give You…” in 1938, playing the tune but making fun of the lyrics; the recording was with Adelaide Hall who had introduced the song to the world at Les Ambassadeurs Club in New York in 1928.
The anonymous sleeve notes on the 1960 RCA Victor album Handful of Keys state that Waller copyrighted over 400 songs, many of which co-written with his closest collaborator Andy Razaf.
Razaf described his partner as “the soul of melody… a man who made the piano sing… both big in body and in mind… known for his generosity… a bubbling bundle of joy”.
Gene Sedric, a clarinetist who played with Waller on some of his 1930s recordings, is quoted in these same sleeve notes recalling Waller’s recording technique with considerable admiration: “Fats was the most relaxed man I ever saw in a studio, and so he made everybody else relaxed.
After a balance had been taken, we’d just need one take to make a side, unless it was a kind of difficult number.”
Waller played with many performers, from Nathaniel Shilkret and Gene Austin, to Erskine Tate, Fletcher Henderson, McKinney’s Cotton Pickers and Adelaide Hall, but his greatest success came with his own five- or six-piece combo, “Fats Waller and his Rhythm”.
His playing once put him at risk of injury. Waller was kidnapped in Chicago leaving a performance in 1926. Four men bundled him into a car and took him to the Hawthorne Inn, owned by Al Capone.
Waller was ordered inside the building, and found a party in full swing. Gun to his back, he was pushed towards a piano, and told to play. A terrified Waller realized he was the “surprise guest” at Capone’s birthday party, and took comfort that the gangsters did not intend to kill him.
It is rumored that Waller stayed at the Hawthorne Inn for three days and left very drunk, extremely tired, and had earned thousands of dollars in cash from Capone and other party-goers as tips.
In 1926, Waller began his recording association with the Victor Talking Machine Company/RCA Victor, his principal record company for the rest of his life, with the organ solos “St. Louis Blues” and his own composition, “Lenox Avenue Blues”.
Although he recorded with various groups, including Morris’s Hot Babes (1927), Fats Waller’s Buddies (1929) (one of the earliest multiracial groups to record), and McKinney’s Cotton Pickers (1929), his most important contribution to the Harlem stride piano tradition was a series of solo recordings of his own compositions: “Handful of Keys”, “Smashing Thirds”, “Numb Fumblin'”, and “Valentine Stomp” (1929).
After sessions with Ted Lewis (1931), Jack Teagarden (1931) and Billy Banks’ Rhythmakers (1932), he began in May 1934 the voluminous series of recordings with a small band known as Fats Waller and his Rhythm.
This six-piece group usually included Herman Autrey (sometimes replaced by Bill Coleman or John “Bugs” Hamilton), Gene Sedric or Rudy Powell, and Al Casey.
Waller wrote “Squeeze Me” (1919), “Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now”, “Ain’t Misbehavin'” (1929), “Blue Turning Grey Over You”, “I’ve Got a Feeling I’m Falling” (1929), “Honeysuckle Rose” (1929) and “Jitterbug Waltz” (1942). He composed stride piano display pieces such as “Handful of Keys”, “Valentine Stomp” and “Viper’s Drag”.
He enjoyed success touring the United Kingdom and Ireland in the 1930s. He appeared in one of the first BBC television broadcasts.
Waller was returning to New York City from Los Angeles, after the smash success of Stormy Weather, and after a successful engagement at the Zanzibar Room, during which he had fallen ill.
More than 4,000 people attended his funeral in Harlem, which prompted Dr. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., who delivered the eulogy, to say that Fats Waller “always played to a packed house.”
Afterwards he was cremated and his ashes were scattered, from an airplane piloted by an unidentified World War black aviator, over Harlem.
One of his surviving relatives is former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket and current Baltimore Ravens wideout Darren Waller, who is Fats’ paternal great-grandson.
Born into a musical family, Gülsin Onay began to play the piano at the age of three. Her first teacher was her mother.
When she was 6 years old, Gülsin Onay gave her first concert on TRT Radio Istanbul. At the age of 10, she received a special government scholarship under the Üstün Yetenekli Çocuklar Kanunu (Law for Exceptionally Talented Children), which enabled her to study first in Ankara with Mithat Fenmen and Ahmed Adnan Saygun, and two years later at the Paris Conservatory, where her teachers were Pierre Sancan, Monique Haas, Pierre Fiquet and Nadia Boulanger.
At the age of 16 she graduated with the Premier Prix de Piano. She continued her studies with Bernhard Ebert at the Musikhochschule Hannover.
At the outset of her career Gülsin Onay took prizes in leading competitions, including the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud Piano Competition (Paris) and the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition (Bolzano).
Since then she has played in the musical centres of 65 countries in a career spanning all continents.
She has played with orchestras including Dresden Staatskapelle, English Chamber Orchestra, Japan Philharmonic, Munich Radio Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony, Warsaw Philharmonic and Vienna Symphony Orchestras, under such conductors as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Erich Bergel, Michael Boder, Andrey Boreyko, Jörg Faerber, Edward Gardner, Emmanuel Krivine, Ingo Metzmacher, Jose Serebrier, Vassily Sinaisky, Stanislaw Wislocki and Lothar Zagrosek. Ms. Onay’s many festival appearances include Berlin, Warsaw, Granada, Mozartfest Würzburg, Newport, Schleswig-Holstein and Istanbul.
An exceptional Chopin interpreter, Gülsin Onay was in 2007 honoured with the award of a State Medal by the Polish nation.
She is also acknowledged worldwide as the finest interpreter of the music of Ahmed Adnan Saygun, whose works feature prominently in her concerts and recordings, and whose 2nd Piano Concerto (which she has premiered in Turkey and abroad) was dedicated to her.
Other contemporary composers who have dedicated works to Gülsin Onay are Hubert Stuppner, Denis Dufour, Jean-Louis Petit, Muhiddin Dürrüoğlu and Marc-André Hamelin. Gülsin Onay has also given world premieres of concertos by Stuppner and Tabakov.
As state artist, Gülsin Onay is an official soloist of the Presidential Symphony Orchestra in Ankara. She is Artist in Residence at Bilkent University in Ankara.
Gülsin Onay is Artistic Advisor of the Gümüşlük International Classical Music Festival
“An exceptional pianist, endowed with virtuosic brilliance and boundless energy, and an interpretive power both intelligent and emotionally sensitive”, Gülsin Onay has recorded 20 albums that illustrate the breadth of her repertoire as well as her interpretive power.
Her 2007 CD featuring live concert recordings of Tchaikovsky’s 1st and Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto, has been acclaimed by critics and virtuosi alike. In 2008 CPO released her recording of both Saygun concertos with the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra and Howard Griffiths, to widespread critical acclaim.
Most recently, the American label VAI has released a live DVD of her performances of the Grieg Concerto and the Saint-Saëns 2nd Concerto, to be followed in early 2011 by the first of two live recital DVDs, featuring her critically acclaimed performances from the Miami International Piano Festival.
Many of Ms. Onay’s concerts have been broadcast on European radio and television, and in the USA on National Public Radio.
Honorary doctorate degrees from Bosphorus University in Istanbul, and from Hacettepe University in Ankara.
State Artist of the Republic of Turkey (1987).
Appointed Goodwill Ambassador by the Turkish national committee of UNICEF in 2003.
Gold Cross of Merit of the Polish nation (2007), awarded by the Polish President Lech Kaczyński for her contributions to Polish culture through her outstanding performances of the music of Chopin.
2007 Honorary Award Medal of the Sevda-Cenap And Music Foundation.
Gülsin Onay’s mother is the daughter of the famous Turkish mathematician and scientist Kerim Erim.
Gülsin Onay’s son Erkin Onay is a professional violinist. He is currently a concertmaster of the orchestra of the Ankara State Opera and Ballet.
Gülsin Onay is married to Tony Scholl, Professor of Algebra and Number Theory at Cambridge University.
Images/ Vidéos: Webradio: “Radio Satellite2”