(b Hudson, NY, 21 Aug 1868; d Fairmount, MN, 7 Dec 1923). American ragtime banjoist. He began studying the banjo at the age of 12, and by 1896 was recording ragtime for Victor, Columbia, Berliner and Edison. He extended his popularity by accompanying Arthur Collins, a leading popular singer. He made concert tours of England in 1900 and 1903, when he played for Edward VII; he also performed for President Theodore Roosevelt. Ossman formed various recording groups, usually consisting of banjo, mandolin and harp-guitar. The most popular of these was the Ossman-Dudley Trio (with Audley Dudley, mandolin, and Roy Butin, harp-guitar); its recording of St Louis Tickle (1906, Vic.) was particularly successful. After 1910 Ossman preferred to travel with his groups away from the eastern recording centres, and made extended stays in both Indianapolis and Dayton, Ohio. He consequently recorded less frequently – his last disc was made in 1917 – and his position in the recording world passed to the banjoist Fred Van Eps. Ossman, however, was the leading ragtime banjoist at a time when the five-string banjo was preferred to the piano for recording purposes. He had an especially clean technique and a flair for syncopation, emphasizing strong two-step rhythms in his playing. One of his last and best recordings, his arrangement of Tom Turpin’s Buffalo Rag (1906), remained in the Victor catalogue until 1925.
U. Walsh: ‘Sylvester Louis Ossman: the Banjo King’, Hobbies Magazine (1948), Sept, 32–3; (1948), Oct, 36–9; (1948), Nov, 31–32; (1949), Jan, 31–2; (1949), Feb, 34–5
D.A. Jasen: disc notes, Kings of the Ragtime Banjo, Yazoo 1044
D.A. Jasen: Recorded Ragtime, 1897–1958 (Hamden, CT, 1973)
TREBOR JAY TICHENOR
Ossovsky, Aleksandr Vyacheslavovich
(b Chişinău, 19/31 March 1871; d Leningrad, 31 July 1957). Russian musicologist, historian and critic. Drawn to music from an early age, he began to learn the violin at the age of seven, and music theory at the age of 11. He studied law at Moscow University from 1889 to 1893, and moved to St Petersburg in 1894 to study composition with Rimsky-Korsakov, with whom he maintained a close friendship. From 1906 to 1908 he studied officially in Rimsky-Korsakov’s theory of composition class at the St Petersburg Conservatory. At this time he attended musical gatherings at Rimsky-Korsakov’s house, and came into contact with Cui, Glazunov, Lyadov, Stasov and the members of Belyayev’s circle; he soon found himself at the centre of St Petersburg’s musical life.
From 1894 Ossovsky contributed to the journals Artist, Russkaya muzïkal'naya gazeta (of which he was deputy editor from 1895) and from 1903 to 1908 wrote for Izvestiya S-Peterburgskogo obshchestva muzïkal'nïkh sobraniy. From 1904 to 1909 he headed the music section of the newspaper Slovo. He also wrote encyclopedia articles, and programme notes for the Ziloti Concerts between 1906 and 1917. He was on the board (with Medtner, Rachmaninoff and Skryabin) of Koussevitzky’s publishing house (which appeared in the West as Edition Russe de Musique) from 1910 to 1918. Between 1915 and 1917 he organized, with Andrey Rimsky-Korsakov and Vyacheslav Karatïgin, the academic journal Muzïkal'nïy sovremennik. In 1907, on Rimsky-Korsakov’s suggestion, he became deputy chairman of the Glinka Awards, established by Belyayev.
In 1915 he was offered a professorship in the department of music history, aesthetics and the history of the arts at the Petrograd Conservatory. After the October Revolution he worked at the Kiev and Odessa conservatories. He returned to the Petrograd Conservatory in 1921 as assistant and deputy to the rector, Glazunov, becoming pro-rector in 1922 and rector during Glazunov’s illness. Under Ossovsky’s direction, the world’s first students’ opera theatre was founded at the conservatory, and, together with Asaf'yev, he established a wide-ranging series of music history courses. From 1921 to 1925 and again from 1933 to 1936 he was artistic director of the Leningrad Philharmonic. He was also a member of the Insititute for the History of the Arts (1921–9; it later became the Institute for the Theatre, Music and Cinematography and he was deputy director of the research section, 1937–43, and director of the Institute, 1943–52), and held professorships at Petrograd University (1921–3) and the Hermitage (1931–3). In 1943 he was made a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences; he worked mainly there in his last years.
Ossovsky’s academic work covered Russian music from the earliest times to contemporary developments. He planned a multi-volume textbook, chapters of which were published after his death. Central to his output are his translations of books from French and German and his editions of works by Glazunov, Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov and others. In 1955 he was co-editor of Rimsky-Korsakov’s autobiography for the collected edition of Rimsky-Korsakov’s works.
O starinnoy muzïke: k priyezdu Parizhskogo Obshchestva kontsertov na starinnïkh instrumentakh [Ancient music: on the arrival of the Paris Society for Concerts on Old Instruments] (St Petersburg, 1906)
Poyasneniya ko vsem programmam simfonicheskikh i kamernïkh kontsertov A. Ziloti v Peterburge i k kontsertam nekotorïkh drugikh organizatsiy (vsego okolo 500) [An elucidation of all programmes of symphonic and chamber concerts of A. Ziloti and the concerts of certain other organizations (approximately 500 in total)] (St Petersburg, 1906–7)
I.S. Bakh [Bach] (St Petersburg, 1907)
Aleksandr Konstantinovich Glazunov (1882–1907): yego zhizn' i tvorchestvo [Glazunov: his life and works] (St Petersburg, 1907)
‘Khudozhestvennoye nasledstvo N.A. Rimskogo-Korsakova’ [The artistic legacy of N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov], V mire iskusstva, xi–xii (1908), 22–4; also in Muzïkal'nïy truzhennik, xxi (1908), 6–9; O muzïke i muzïkantakh, iii–iv (1908), 14–20
‘Maks Reger: kharakteristika’, O muzïke i muzïkantakh, v–vi (1909), 25–6
‘Osnovnïye voprosï russkoy muzïkal'noy kul'turï XVII i XVIII vv’ [Fundamental questions in Russian culture of the 17th and 18th centuries], SovM (1950), no.5, pp.53–7
ed.: M.I. Glinka: issledovaniya i materialï [Researches and materials] (Leningrad, 1950) [incl. ‘Dramaturgiya operï M.I. Glinki Ivan Susanin’, 7–71]
ed., with V.N.Rimsky-Korsakov: N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov: Letopis' moyey muzïkal'noy zhizni [Chronicle of my musical life] (Moscow, 1955)
‘S.V. Rakhmaninov’, Vospominaniya o Rakhmaninove [Reminiscences of Rachmaninoff], ed. Z.A. Apetian (Moscow, 1957, enlarged 4/1974), 354–400
ed. Ye.Bronfin: A. Ossovskiy: izbrannïye stat'i, vospominaniya [Selected articles, reminiscences] (Leningrad, 1961) [incl. ‘Muzïkal'no-ėsteticheskiye vozzreniya, nauka o muzïke i muzïkal'naya kritika v Rossii v XVIII stoletii’ [Musical-aesthetic outlooks, the study of music and music criticism in Russia in the 18th century], 19–106; ‘Rikhard Shtraus i yego simfonicheskoye tvorchestvo’ [Richard Strauss and his symphonic works], 174–226; ‘Ocherk istorii ispanskoy muzïkal'noy kul'turï’ [An outline of the history of Spanish musical culture], 227–89; ‘Yuniy Skryabin’ [The young Skryabin], 323–50]
‘Kak rodilas' i vïrosla Operanaya studiya’ [The birth and growth of the Opera Studio], Leningradskaya konservatoriya v vospominaniyakh, 1862–1962, ed. G.G. Tigranov (Leningrad, 1962), 356–60
ed. Yu.Kremlyov: A. Ossovskiy: vospominaniya, issledovaniya [Reminiscences, researches] (Leningrad, 1968) [incl. ‘N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov: khudozhnik-mïslitel'’ [Artist and thinker], 275–341]
ed. Yu.Kremlyov: A. Ossovskiy: muzïkal'no-kriticheskiye stat'i (1894–1912) [Critical articles on music] (Leningrad, 1971)
Ye.Bronfin: Aleksandr Vyacheslavovich Ossovskiy: ocherk zhizni i tvorcheskoy deynatel'nosti [An outline of his life and creative activity] (Leningrad, 1960)