(b Chicago, 4 Jan 1926). American cellist. He studied at the Curtis Institute with Daniel Saidenberg and Piatigorsky; later he worked with Casals and studied conducting with Karajan and Monteux. He was a member of several American orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Detroit SO, and appeared as a recitalist in North America and Europe in repertory ranging from the Bach suites to Kodály’s unaccompanied Cello Sonata. He gave the premières of works by Kurt George Rogers, Virgil Thomson, Milhaud, Shapleigh and Alexander Tcherepnin, among others. In 1974 he was appointed professor of cello and chamber music at the University of Texas, Austin. Olefsky’s playing was noted for its energy and sensitivity. His recordings include the complete sonatas of Beethoven and Brahms.
Olenina d’Alheim [d’Al'geym; née Olenina], Mariya Alekseyevna
(b Istomino, Ryazan province, 20 Sept/1 Oct 1869; d Moscow, 27 Aug 1970). Russian mezzo-soprano. Although she had lessons in 1887 with Yuliya Platonova and Aleksandra Molas, and later studied in Paris, she was never systematically trained. She made her début in Paris in 1896, singing music by Musorgsky, and in Russia (St Petersburg) in 1901. From then on she led a busy concert life in St Petersburg and Moscow. She and her husband, Pierre d’Alheim (1862–1922), a French writer, author of a book on Musorgsky and translator into French of his texts, were energetic advocates of Russian music in the West. In 1908 she founded in Moscow a so-called ‘Maison du Lied’ with the aim of spreading classical and contemporary vocal chamber music. The Maison, which existed until 1915, organized concerts, international competitions for song arrangements and for Russian translations of texts, and published a bulletin. In 1910 Olenina d’Alheim gave recitals in London, and in 1918 she moved to Paris. She last sang in Moscow and Leningrad in 1926 and returned to live in Moscow in 1959.
An outstanding recitalist, Olenina d’Alheim belonged, according to Stasov, to a group of artists with peculiarly Russian characteristics. Although her voice was neither particularly powerful nor particularly beautiful, she exerted a strong artistic influence. Her lofty inspiration and her grasp of the style and essence of a song made her performances totally compelling; her enunciation and declamation were beyond reproach, her phrasing noted for its expressiveness. In works such as Musorgsky’s ‘The Field-Marshal’ (Songs and Dances of Death) and Nursery cycle, or Schubert’s Der Erlkönig, she reached heights of tragic pathos. Her repertory included music by trouvères and Minnesinger, French and Italian Renaissance composers, Russian and west European classical and contemporary composers (often rare or new works), and folksongs. She published Le legs de Moussorgski (Paris, 1908) and the last interview with her, ‘Tsel' moyey zhizni bïla znakomit' lyudey s russkoy muzïkoy’ (‘My life’s aim was to acquaint people with Russian music’), was printed in Literaturnaya rossiya (12 September 1969).
(b Bernburg, bap. 3 June 1738; d Aschersleben, 20 Jan 1789). German organist and composer. There is some evidence that he studied with Bach for a short time in 1749, but none connecting him with the Thomasschule. In 1755 he became organist of the church in Bernburg, but moved to the church of St Stephan in neighbouring Aschersleben in January 1762 because of its superior organ. To augment his salary he assumed the duties of assistant schoolmaster as well. Contemporaries praised Oley’s skill on the keyboard and organ, and his compositions attracted some interest. His organ writing reminded J.F. Agricola, another Bach pupil, of the glories of an earlier age. J. Beckmann, in a review of 1778, criticized carelessness in his harmony, giving credence perhaps to Gerber’s statement that in the main Oley was self-taught. Bach’s personal influence was probably insignificant: Emery has suggested that certain details in the copies of Bach’s music that Oley made on his return to Bernburg, and later, reveal an unfamiliarity with his practice. Sietz mentioned some manuscript works by Oley in a private collection in Dessau, but only a set of 14 keyboard variations (published in Nuremberg, n.d.) and the four-volume Variirte Choräle (Quedlinburg, 1773–92) seem to be extant. The latter work contains 77 settings for organ solo (10 ed. W. Emery, London, 1958 and 1964; others ed. W. Syré, Locarno, 1987), two for solo oboe and organ, and six for organ and instrumental ensemble of flute, oboe, bassoon, horn, two violins, viola and cello (2 ed. F. Haselböck, Stuttgart, 1976). The most interesting combine his fondness for strict canon with passages in the more expressive style. Oley owned one of the four extant copies of the Schübler chorales (in A-Wn, with Bach’s corrections), but in spite of speculation to the contrary he probably did not have access to Bach’s estate.
R. Sietz: ‘Die Orgelkompositionen des Schülerkreises um Johann Sebastian Bach’, BJb 1935, 33–96
H. Löffler: ‘Die Schüler Johann Sebastian Bachs’, BJb 1953, 5–28, esp. 26
H.-J. Schulze, ed.: Dokumente zum Nachwirken Johann Sebestian Bachs 1750–1800, Bach-Dokumente, iii (Leipzig, 1972)
HUGH J. McLEAN
Oliac y Serra, Juan
(b ?Barcelona, c1708; d Avila, 20 Jan 1780). Spanish composer. From an early age he showed exceptional talent as a conductor and composer and studied music with his uncle, Luis Serra, maestro de capilla of Pilar Cathedral, Zaragoza. At the age of 18 he was the winner of the competitions for maestro de capilla of the Salvador church in Zaragoza. In 1734 he was appointed to a similar position at Avila Cathedral, where he served until his death and where most of his compositions are preserved. Other works are in Santiago Cathedral and other Spanish archives.
G. Bourligueux: ‘Quelques aspects de la vie musicale à Avila: notes et documents (XVIIIe siècle)’, AnM, xxv (1970), 169–209, esp. 173
J. López-Calo: Catálogo del archivo de música de la Catedral de Avila (Santiago de Compostela, 1978)