(b Linköping, 8 Jan 1824; dStockholm, 3 Aug 1886). Swedish composer. He was largely self-taught as a composer, but took lessons with J.E. Nordblom while a student at the University of Uppsala. Although his main employment was as a civil servant, he was active as a music critic and as a violinist. He composed his first opera, Blenda (4, L. Josephson and E. Wallmark; S-Skma*), for a competition organized by King Oscar II. It was staged at the Royal Opera, Stockholm, in 1876 but remained in the repertory only until 1879. The work met with some criticism, owing to its poor libretto (based on Schiller’s Die Jungfrau von Orleans) and its lack of originality. However, the composer’s lyric and melodic gifts as well as the dramatic power of certain scenes were much acclaimed, and unique in Swedish 19th-century opera. The opera deals with a war in the early Medieval period between the Danish and the Swedish. Despite the Wagnerian overtones of the plot, Ölander skilfully sets the most dramatic scenes with precision, colourful orchestration and a sense of the musical drama. His lyricism and intensity are often reminiscent of Bellini. Ölander’s other dramatic work, the operetta Mäster Placide (T. Merula, Stockholm, New Theatre, 1879, lost; ov. in Skma), was rather more successful than Blenda, perhaps owing to its lightness and comic verve – both rare in Swedish theatre. His other compositions include a Symphony in E; a Missa solemnis; two psalm settings for solo voices, chorus and organ; a string sextet; several quartets; men’s choral songs and solo songs.
GroveO (A. Wiklund)
F.J.Huss: ‘Pehr August Ölander’, Svensk musiktidning, vi (1886), 105–6
T.Norlind: ‘Ölander, Per August’, Allmänt musiklexikon, ii (Stockholm, 1916, 2/1928)
Olatunji, Babatunde [Michael Babatunde]
(b Ajido-Badacry, Nigeria, c1920). Nigerian drummer, composer and music organizer and promoter. Educated at the Baptist Academy in Lagos, he moved to the USA in 1950 where he took the BA at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1954. He settled in New York in 1954, enrolling in a graduate programme at New York University, and later established the Center of African Culture in Harlem in the 1960s, a cultural performing arts school. He collaborated with artists such as John Coltrane, Max Roach, Yusef Lateef, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins, Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart. His recordings and touring ensemble introduced countless audiences throughout North America and the world to West African performance traditions. In addition, he wrote about African music and composed several film scores. His association with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart led to several recording projects and further performing opportunities.
with B.W.Dietz: Musical Instruments of Africa: their Nature, Use and Place in the Life of a Deeply Musical People (New York, 1965)
Yorùbá òde òní (Lagos, 1980)
Drums of Passion Songbook: the Songs of Babatunde Olatunji (New York, 1993)
Dance to the Beat of my Heart, Blue Heron (1986) [re-issued as Drums of Passion: the Beat, Rykodisc RCD 10107 (1989)]
Drums of Passion: the Invocation, Rykodisc RCD 10102 (1988)
G.Stewart: ‘The Beat Goes On: Olatunji’, Breakout: Profiles in African Rhythm (Chicago, 1992), 87–96
GREGORY F. BARZ
Olcott, Chauncey [Olcott, Chancellor John]
(b Buffalo, NY, 21 July 1858; d Monte Carlo, 18 March 1932). American singer, composer and lyricist. He toured with several minstrel and opera companies, then went to London for two years, where he studied singing and appeared in comic opera. He achieved fame after his return to the USA when he joined forces with Augustus Pitou in 1893 and succeeded William J. Scanlan as the leading singer in Pitou’s productions of sentimental operettas on Irish themes. His success, founded on his sweet tenor voice and his ingratiating acting and appearance, led to his concentrating on Irish roles for the remainder of his career.
He contributed librettos, songs and lyrics to many of the works in which he appeared, and wrote the complete scores of Sweet Inniscarra (1897), A Romance of Athlone (1899), Garrett O’Magh (1901), and Old Limerick Town (1902). His song My Wild Irish Rose (1899) and the lyrics Mother Machree (1911) and When Irish Eyes are Smiling (1912), both with music by Ernest R. Ball, have attained lasting popularity. He made a few recordings of Irish-American ballads between 1913 and 1920, but his popularity waned after World War I and he retired in 1925. Olcott was considered neither a great singer nor actor, but at the height of his popularity commanded a large and loyal audience among the Irish-American community. His life was the subject of the Hollywood film My Wild Irish Rose (1947).
DAB (W.P. Eaton)
‘Olcott, Chancellor John (Chauncey Olcott)’, The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, xi (New York, 1901/R), 519 only