(b Castleisland, Co. Kerry, 8 Oct 1887; d Tralee, Co. Kerry, 22 Feb 1963). Irish traditional fiddle player and music teacher. Born in Sliabh Luachra, an area comprising parts of Kerry and Cork noted for its traditional culture, he showed early musical promise and learnt from his mother and his uncles. He trained as a primary teacher in Dublin before briefly assuming his father's former position as the local school teacher. From 1920 he was a highly influential travelling music teacher in Sliabh Luachra, walking long distances daily from his home base. He taught mainly the fiddle and the accordion and frequently played for both listeners and dancers. After teaching tunes orally, he usually gave his pupils notations in tablature for both instruments as aides-mémoires, and changes in the music repertory of his district can be traced in surviving notations. He introduced tunes from a variety of printed sources and commercial sound recordings and developed his own versions of traditional melodies. He preferred to play slow airs rather than the characteristic polkas and slides of Sliabh Luachra. O'Keeffe's vivid personality and wit, his position as an entertainer in the local community and his rakish way of life made him a figure of folklore, and his musical influence continues through the playing of his pupils and his recordings. Some of his large repertory was recorded for the archives of the Irish Folklore Commission and by Radio Éireann and the BBC.
and other resources
A.Ward: Music from Sliabh Luachra: an Introduction to the Traditional Music of the Cork/Kerry Borderland (London, 1976)
Kerry Fiddles, Topic LP 12T309 (1977); reissued as Ossian CD OSS 10 (1993)
The Sliabh Luachra Fiddle Master Pádraig O'Keeffe, RTÉ 174 CD (1993)
D.Hanafin: Pádraig O'Keeffe: the Man and his Music (Castleisland, 1996)
SeeOckeghem, jean de.
American record company. It was established in 1918 by General Phonograph, an enterprise set up in New York in 1916 by Otto Heinemann to manage the American operations of Carl Lindström’s German company. Jazz recordings began with items by the New Orleans Jazz Band. Recordings by Mamie Smith established OKeh’s primacy in the field, which was reinforced in 1921 by the setting up of a race series (until 1923 called the Colored Catalog). It became an important jazz, blues and gospel catalogue and included material by Clarence Williams (from 1921), King Oliver (1923), Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven (1925–9), Lonnie Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, J.M. Gates and Bennie Moten’s band (1923–5). Discs by Frankie Trumbauer, Bix Beiderbecke and Eddie Lang were issued in a general popular series, and there were also separate series for country music, calypso, Jewish music, European popular music (for post-war immigrants) and Mexican music. The company’s activities were little affected when it was taken over by Columbia in 1926; Heinemann ran OKeh as a new subsidiary specializing in jazz, blues, gospel and popular music but also including violin solos by Eugene Ormandy and a huge novelty hit, the Original Lauf-Aufnahme. Control passed to ARC–BRC in August 1934; later that year the race series was discontinued after almost 1000 issues. ARC–BRC dropped the name OKeh but CBS, which acquired the company in 1938, revived it and continued the numerical series of the Vocalion label, pressing early issues anew with OKeh labels. In the early 1950s the label became CBS’s main outlet for rhythm and blues.
OKeh Race Records (New York, c1924/R)
OKeh Race Records: the Blue Book of Blues (New York, c1927/R)
R.D.Kinkle: ‘OKeh Numerical List’, ‘Vocalion-Okeh Numerical List’, The Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz, 1900–1950, iv (New Rochelle, NY, 1974), 2123, 2255
Okeland [Hockland, Oclande], Robert
(fl 1532–50). English church musician and composer. From August 1532 to January 1534 he was a lay clerk at Eton College, whence he moved immediately to the parish-church of St Mary-at-Hill, London, remaining there until August 1535 as Master of the Choristers and organist. By June 1545 he was a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal; he last appears there in April 1547, but his composition of music to vernacular texts shows that he lived at least a few years longer. Morley, writing A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practical Musicke (1597), mentioned Okeland as one of the composers whose work he had consulted.
Okeland’s four-voice Kyrie occurs in a series of Kyrie and Alleluia settings in the Gyffard Partbooks (GB-Lbl Add.17802–5). In this freely composed work he demonstrated a fine technique within a clearly defined tripartite structure. His remaining works – the anthem Prayse we the Father and the prayer Prayse we the Lord O our Souls – are both contained in two of the earliest sources of Anglican music: the Wanley Partbooks (c1550; Ob Mus.Sch.E.420–22) and Day’s Certaine Notes (1560, 2/1565). Although Okeland treated these texts syllabically, he indulged in a surprising amount of melodic movement, rhythmic variety and imitative part-writing. Both pieces were included in James Burns’s Anthems and Services (London, 1847).
AshbeeR, vii; BDECM; HarrisonMMB
H.Baillie: ‘A London Church in Early Tudor Times’, ML, xxxvi (1955), 55–64
H.Baillie: ‘Some Biographical Notes on English Church Musicians, Chiefly Working in London (1485–1569)’, RMARC, no.2 (1962), 18–57, esp. 48
S. DIANNE BISHOP/ROGER BOWERS
Okeover [Oker], John
(b ?Wells; d Wells, by July 1663). English organist and composer. He was probably a son of John Okeover (b ?Worcester, ?1595; d Wells, c1649), organist and vicar-choral at Wells Cathedral from February 1620, and later Master of the Choristers there, who obtained the Oxford BMus in 1633. Okeover the younger became organist of Gloucester Cathedral on 25 April 1640 (his name appears in account books there as early as 1635). At this time the cathedral gained a new organ built by Thomas Dallam, and the instrument was appraised by Thomas Tomkins, who occasionally visited the cathedral between 1639 and 1641, and whom Okeover would have met. In 1642 Okeover married Mary Mills, and they had a son John in 1656. In 1651 Okeover's distressed circumstances had attracted attention; although he was sympathetic to the parliamentary cause, he became an almsman on the former cathedral foundation in 1655, and remained so until the Restoration, when he moved to Wells. In July 1663 the name of John Browne, his successor as organist at Wells, replaced his in the cathedral accounts. Between 1664 and 1665 Mary Oker received payment for their son, who was one of the choristers.
Okeover’s reputation was evidently local rather than national: his consort music appears only in the manuscript collections of the Gloucester copyist, John Merro (d 1639), and at no point does Okeover’s name appear in any Chapel Royal documents. However, he was clearly aware of the work of some of the foremost court composers, since anthems by Byrd, Gibbons and others occur in significant quantities in a manuscript partbook that he compiled while at Gloucester (in GB-GL).
Only one of Okeover's church compositions, the four-part full anthem Grant, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, survives intact. Significantly, several of the manuscript sources of his four surviving anthems have West Country associations, suggesting that, like his consort output, his sacred music was not widely circulated. None is preserved in contemporary printed anthologies such as John Barnard's Selected Church Music (London, 1641) and James Clifford's The Divine Services and Anthems (London, 1663), although one of the Gloucester sources is a manuscript copy of Barnard, to which some handwritten additions were made, including Okeover's incomplete verse setting of psalm 21, The king shall rejoice. So far as can be determined from the small quantity of his sacred music that survives, Okeover was quite conservative, building his structures out of a succession of well-turned imitative paragraphs, reminiscent of the work of his immediate predecessors, Morley, Gibbons and Weelkes, though without their idiomatic or compositional flair; the opening of The king shall rejoice closely resembles that of John Tomkins's full setting of the same text.
While not perhaps in the front rank of 17th-century English consort music, Okeover's work compares favourably with that of his more eminent contemporaries, Coprario, Ferrabosco, Lawes and Jenkins. His three-part fantasias are fine pieces, featuring memorable opening themes, subsequently developed in expertly crafted counterpoint and revealing a sound – though conservative – harmonic sense. Structurally these pieces are similar to his anthems, comprising a series of imitative paragraphs and typically reaching a climax of rhythmic activity about two-thirds of the way through. The influence of Gibbons's printed three-part consort fantasias is sometimes evident, for instance in terms of registral disposition of the forces and presence of sesquialtera episodes. Okeover's treble parts (in both the three- and five-part fantasias) generally lie quite well on the violin (as do those of, for instance, Gibbons and Tomkins), while his bass parts are notably active, at times traversing patterns more suggestive of the keyboard than the viol.
God shall send forth, verse anthem, GB-GL, Lcm, Ob, US-BE: all inc.
Grant, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, full anthem, GB-GL, Lcm
Hear my prayer, O God, full anthem, GL, Lcm: both inc.
The king shall rejoice, verse anthem, GL, Lcm: both inc.
17 fantasias: 10 for 3 viols, Ob; 7 for 5 viols, Lbl
2 pavans, 5 viols, Lbl
W.K.Ford: ‘The Life and Works of John Okeover (or Oker)’, PRMA, lxxxiv (1957–8), 71–80
P.Willetts: ‘Music from the Circle of Anthony Wood at Oxford’, British Museum Quarterly, xxiv (1961), 71–5
M.Gillingham: The Organs and Organists of Gloucester Cathedral (Gloucester, 1971)
A.Rannie: The Story of Music at Winchester College, 1394–1969 (Winchester, 1969)
J.Morehen: ‘The Gloucester Cathedral Bassus Part-Book MS93’, ML, lxii (1981), 189–96
D.S.Bailey: Wells Manor of Canon Grange (Gloucester, 1985)
J.Bennett: ‘John Oker/Okeover’, Chelys, xvi (1987), 3–11