Michael Kelly

Michael O'Kelly

1762 (Dublin) – 1826 (Margate, England)

Arne taught Kelly piano. Attwood travelled with him to visit Leopold Mozart, with a scheme to take Mozart’s son Wolfgang to England, but it didn’t come off. He was a good friend of the younger Mozart, frequently dining with him, and singing in the première of ‘The Marriage of Figaro.’ Kelly described Mozart as “remarkably fond of punch”, and claims always to have beaten him at billiards. The librettist da Ponte, he said, had a lisp and the character of a coxcomb. Kelly also worked in Venice with Paisiello and Martin y Soler. Hook was the ghost writer for his ‘Reminiscences’. Sheridan, a London friend, joked with him about his twin occupations dealing in wine and music.

Sergei Diaghilev

Serge Diaghilev;Sergei Pavlovich Dyagilev

1872 (Selischi, Russia) – 1929 (Venice)

Diaghilev oversaw the revolutionising of ballet theatre. Rimsky-Korsakov taught him, but told him he had no musical talent. He edited an influential art magazine with Benois, Bakst and his cousin and lover, Filosofov. Nijinsky, Fokine and Bakst formed the core of the revolutionary Ballets Russes group he took to France (Nijinsky, also his lover, was vindictively sacked when he got married). Cendrars drank champagne with him, while Marinetti got him to listen to Russolo’s noise machines. The talents Diaghilev worked with form a who’s who of his era’s avant-garde: Goncharova to Gabo, Picasso to Prokofiev, Strauss to Stravinsky.

Eddie Barclay

1921 (Paris) – 2005 (Paris)

Barclay’s club in occupied WWll Paris was where friends like Vian and Reinhardt could go and listen to forbidden American jazz (he was a great fan of Reinhardt’s, who dedicated a composition to him.) Aznavour had been a friend for years before they collaborated on song-writing and made records that established Aznavour’s career. Vian edited a magazine Barclay started, and sometimes played in his band. Jones worked for him as artistic director. Both Brel and Gréco left another label for the sake of joining Barclay (he had to release Johnny Hallyday, one of his roster of popular artists, in exchange).

Eddie Barclay knew…

Alexander Siloti

Alexander Ilyich Siloti;Aleksandr Ilyich Ziloti

1863 (nr. Kharkov, Ukraine) – 1945 (New York)

Liszt taught Siloti (one of those he taught for no payment, after taking holy orders), and nicknamed him ‘Silotissimus’ for his supreme pianistic skills. Siloti also studied with Tchaikovsky (and Rubinstein), and acted as Tchaikovsky’s editor. He himself taught his cousin Rachmaninoff, and was brother-in-law to Bakst. As a pianist, he accompanied Casals, while Schoenberg and Rimsky-Korsakov were guest-conductors in concerts he organised. Busoni found him more welcoming than others in Moscow musical society. Stravinsky, Glazunov, Liszt and Tchaikovsky all dedicated new pieces to him.