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Richard Rodney Bennett

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Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, CBE (29 March 1936 – 24 December 2012) was a British composer renowned for his film scores and his jazz performance as much as for his challenging concert works. He was based in New York City from 1979.

As one of Britain’s most respected and versatile musicians, Bennett produced over two hundred works for the concert hall, and fifty scores for film and television, as well as having been a writer and performer of jazz songs for fifty years. Studies with Boulez in the 1950s immersed him in the techniques of the European avant-garde, though he subsequently developed his own distinctive dramato-abstract style. In later years he adopted an increasingly tonal idiom.

Despite his early studies in modernist techniques, Bennett’s tastes were catholic, and he wrote in a wide range of styles, being particularly fond of jazz. Early on, he found success by writing music for feature films, although he considered this to be subordinate to his concert music. Nevertheless, he continued to write music for films and television; among his best-known scores are the Doctor Who story The Aztecs (1964), Far from the Madding Crowd (1967), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Enchanted April (1992) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). He was also a prolific composer of orchestral works, piano solos, choral works and operas. Despite this eclecticism, Bennett’s music rarely involves crossover of styles.

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  • zatufomo

    He was a cultured gay man and every aspect of his creativity was defined by elegance. He would not go for strong avant-garde statements in any genre – it was contrary to his very core. He wanted, and achieved, a refined style in both his music and his life: that is why he went to New York, and was so happy there.

    5 Jan 2013 Reply
  • Lord_Aerevar

    R.I.P.

    26 Dec 2012 Reply
  • DragKing3498

    Loving The Mines of Sulphur.....with the fabulous Beth Clayton

    12 Nov 2009 Reply

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