Orpheus (Chamber Orchestra).
American ensemble consisting of 16 strings and 10 woodwind. It was formed in 1972 by the cellist Julian Fifer. The group rehearses and performs without conductor, treating chamber orchestra literature as chamber music. Completely self-governed, the members themselves are responsible for interpretation, programming, repertory and choice of soloists, and they rotate seating and section leadership. Orpheus presents an annual series at Carnegie Hall, and tours regularly throughout the world. They have made over 50 recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, many of which feature Orpheus musicians as soloists; one, a 1994 recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, was the first classical CD release with CD-ROM. A documentary film by the director Allan Miller, ‘Orpheus in the Real World’, was telecast in Europe and Japan in 1995 and 1996. The group’s unique style of working has generated interest from the business world as well as the music community; Orpheus is the subject of a two-year study by the Harvard University School of Business, and has worked with New York University and the University of Chicago on projects related to issues of leadership and self-governance.
L. Kandell: ‘A Conductor? Who Needs a Conductor?’, New York Times (26 Nov 1995)
J. Traub: ‘Passing the Baton: Workplace Democracy in the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’, New Yorker (26 Aug 1996)
German-based string quartet. It was founded in 1987 by Charles-André Linale (b Rouen, 1958), Emilian Piedicuta (b Bucharest, 1955), Emile Cantor (b Laren, nr Hilversum, 1955) and Laurentiu Sbarcea (b Bucharest, 1961). Linale had previously led the Ensemble Intercontemporain and the Orlando Quartet. The group won all the competitions it entered: the Valentino Bucchi in Rome (1988), the Karl Klingler in Munich (1990) and the Osaka in Japan (1993). Based in Düsseldorf, it gives a regular concert series in that city and tours widely, collaborating with such guests as the pianists Menahem Pressler and Therese Dussaut, the cellist Pieter Wispelwey and the clarinettist José-Luis Estelles. Its first American tour was made in 1998 and it returned in 1999. Drawing on its members' backgrounds in three countries, it plays with beautiful tone, immaculate ensemble and a rare stylistic sense, mastering a repertory extending from the Viennese Classics to such 20th-century composers as Malipiero – all of whose quartets it has played in concert and recorded – Berg, Bartók, Janáček, Schulhoff and Shostakovich. Its performances of Debussy, Ravel and Dutilleux have attracted much praise, in concert and on record. Other recordings include works by Beethoven and Schubert and the complete quartets of Brahms and Bartók. All four members teach at the Utrecht Conservatory and give summer courses at Arosa, Switzerland, and Sveg, Sweden; in addition Linale and Sbarcea teach in Aachen, Piedicuta in Wuppertal and Cantor in Mainz and Essen. Their instruments are a violin that is a joint production of Giuseppe Guarneri ‘Filius Andreas’ and Guarneri del Gesù, a 1748 violin by Pietro Paolo de Vitor of Venice, a viola of about 1700 by Giovanni Tononi and a 1694 cello by Giovanni Grancino.
T. Potter: ‘Orpheus in the Overworld’, The Strad, civ (1993), 656–8
A portable piano which could be played while carried, in the manner of a guitar, or while set on a table or stand, or while resting in the performer’s lap (see illustration). First described in 1795 by its inventor, Karl Leopold Röllig, it has a small soundbox containing a three- to four-octave keyboard that activates a Viennese action; the strings run transversely across the soundbox from a harp-shaped open frame at the performer's left to tuning-pins set at the right. The style of the stringing was intended to imitate the ancient lyre, an attribute of Orpheus.
K.L. Röllig: Orphica: ein musikalisches Instrument (Vienna, 1795)
V. Luithlen and K. Wegerer: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Katalog der Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente, i: Saitenklaviere (Vienna, 1966/R), 80–2
J. Koster: Keyboard Musical Instruments in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, 1994), 224–7
EDWIN M. RIPIN/JOHN KOSTER
Orr, Buxton (Daeblitz)
(b Glasgow, 18 April 1924; d Hereford, 27 Dec 1997). British composer. He gave up a career in medicine to study at the GSM, where he was taught composition by Frankel and conducting by Buesst (1952–5). His early works include film scores, notably for the ‘Hammer’ horror films, and the successful one-act opera The Wager, which was given its première at Sadler’s Wells in 1961. From 1965 to 1990 he was a professor at the GSM, where he founded the Contemporary Music Ensemble, and of which he was made a Fellow in 1971. He was conductor of the London Jazz Composers’ Orchestra (1970–80), giving performances across Europe and at the 1972 Jazzfest Berlin. A jazz style is appealingly deployed in several works, notably those for brass band, as in the brightly scored A Caledonian Suite commissioned by the BBC. His individuality and communicability is also evinced in the more serious works, including the series of Refrains (1–6), the three piano trios and Sinfonia ricercante (1987). These works are characteristic of his style in which lyricism and rhythmic vitality combine with rigorous motivic and contrapuntal processes and pitch-centred atonality. Of his music theatre works of the 1980s, Ring in the New, composed while composer-in-residence at the Banff School of Fine Arts, Canada, won the 1988 Seagrams Prize of the America National Music Theatre Network.
Stage: The Wager (op, 1, C.H.P. Johnston), 1961, arr. chbr ens, 1996; Unicorn (music theatre, Orr), 1981; The Last Circus (music theatre, Orr), 1984; Ring in the New (music theatre, M. Bawtree), 1986; The Alchemist (op), unfinished
Orch: Bulgarian Suite, 1960; A Celtic Suite, str, 1968; Fanfare and Processional, str, 1968; Trbn Conc., trbn, brass band, 1971; A John Gay Suite, sym. wind band, 1972; Interplay, jazz orch, 1973; Refrains III, jazz orch, 1973; Tpt Conc., tpt, brass band, 1976; Triptych, 1977; A Caledonian Suite, brass band, 1980; Sinfonia ricercante, 1987; Narration, sym. wind ens, 1993
Vocal: Songs of Childhood (Scottish poets), Mez/Bar, pf, 1962; Canzona (Scottish poets), T, cl, str trio, 1963; The Ballad of Mr and Mrs Discobbolos (E. Lear), T, gui/pf, 1965; 8 Songs from the Yüan, Ct, pf, 1969; many kinds of yes (e.e. cummings), 2vv, 1971; The Knight and the Lady (R.H. Barham), 1v, 1978; 10 Types of Hospital Visitor (C. Causley), S, db/pf, 1986
Chbr and solo inst: Bagatelles, pf, 1952; Sonata, vn, pf, 1955; 3 Diatonic Preludes, hp, 1965; Episodes, eng hn/va, pf, 1966; Sonata per 10, double wind qnt, 1967; Refrains I, eng hn/va, pf, 1970; 5 Sketches, 4 trbn, 1970; Refrains II, cl, va, pf, 1971; Str Qt no.1 (Refrains IV), 1977; Side by Side, pf, 1979; Pf Trio no.1, 1982; Str Qt no.2, 1985; Tournament, brass ens, 1985; Variations, pf, 1985; Pf Trio no.2, 1986; A Carmen Fantasy, vc, pf, 1987, arr. orch/(opt. obs, opt hns, str); Portrait of the Don, vc, pf/str, 1987; Refrains V, cl, pf, 1988; Pf Trio no.3, 1990; Refrains VI, 14 insts, 1992; Elegy, vc, pf, 1994; Duo, baroque vn, db, 1994; Str Trio, 1996; Catfish Row, vc, pf, 1997; Tales from the Windsor Forest, vc, pf, 1997
MSS in GB-Lmic
Principal publishers: Anglo-Continental, Gamber Press, Alphonse Leduc, Novello, OUP
‘Buxton Orr Writes about Benjamin Frankel’s Symphonies and the Death of Tonality’, The Listener (12 Oct 1972), 483
‘The Symphony Today’, The Composer, no.47 (1973), 11–14
‘Some Reflections on the Operas of Benjamin Britten’, Benjamin Britten: Peter Grimes and Gloriana, ed. N. John (London, 1983)
‘Freedom and Structure’, Music Teacher, lxxii (1993), 18–19
J. Blezzard: ‘New Initiatives, Old Music and New Discoveries’, CMc, no.48 (1991), 69–73
G. Higginson: ‘The Music of Buxton Orr: an Introduction’, British Music Society Newsletter, no.76 (1997), 111
Obituaries: M. Anderson, The Independent (31 Dec 1997); The Times (24 Jan 1998); M. Miller, MO, cxxi (1998), 188 only