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The name of Philip Martell is now synonymous with the Hammer horror movies of the 1960,s through to the early 1980’s. Martell was Hammer films musical supervisor from 1963 after the untimely death of John Hollingsworth. Martell was born in the east end of London in 1915, he came from a very poor family but because he was attracted to the sounds of the violin coming from a neighbouring house where a music teacher lived the young Martell set his heart of being able to play violin. His Father managed to get together enough money to buy a violin for his son and at the age of five Martell began to practise. As he grew and became more proficient Martell was advised to go to the Guildhall school of music and sit the entrance exam, he did this and passed. He began to study at the school under the tutorship of Benoit Hollander who more or less immediately saw the potential in the young Martell, after a while under the guidance of Benoit, Martell aged just 11 years got a scholarship at the Guildhall this would run for three years and at the age of 14 he was awarded another scholarship which again gave him another three years of study. He continued under the watchful gaze of Hollander until he was 15 when to earn some money Martell began to play in orchestras that were in cinema’s accompanying silent movies. This was something that Hollander was not keen on as it meant that his star student was wasting time performing when he could be practising to become what Hollander had envisaged for him a top concert violinist. Martell began to have a change of direction at this time and started to work in music more as a job and a way of earning money rather than having aspirations of being great performer. He remained at the Guildhall at this time also, taking lessons in piano and studying composition and harmony. Martell managed to get a job in a west end theatre as violinist and soon established himself as a talent and was given the position of lead n the orchestra. It was whilst at the theatre that the conductor was taken ill and the theatre manager asked Martell to step in and conduct the orchestra which he did. It was at this time that Martell first met Val Guest, who then began to ask Martell to act as musical director on films that he directed such as MISS PILGRIMS PROGRESS in 1950 and also MISTER DRAKES DUCK in 1951. Martell took to film scoring with relative ease because of his experience in performing for silent movies and also because of his time in the theatre. Two years after Mr Drakes Duck Martell moved to Angel Productions and it was here that he worked on COSH BOY amongst others, Val Guest still wanted Martell to be involved with the music for his movies so in 1954 he asked Martell to work on THE RUNAWAY BUS and later THE LYONS IN PARIS. In 1963 Martell was asked to be the musical supervisor for Hammer and began by taking up where John Hollingsworth had left off on the Don Banks score THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN. Martell returned to Hammer in 1964 to supervise and conduct HYSTERIA and that is where he remained until 1978 finishing his time with Hammer on the companies final movie THE LADY VANISHES. But he did return to the podium as it were for Hammers television productions HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR in 1980 and then worked on two episodes of HAMMER HOUSE OF MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE IN 1983. Martell did not confine himself to working on hammer productions however and during the 1960,s through to 1985 he acted as supervisor on movies such as, DR BLOODS COFFIN, DIE MONSTER DIE, THE HORROR OF IT ALL, BRIDES OF FU MAN CHU, THE FROZEN DEAD, DR TERRORS HOUSE OF HORRORS, THE SKULL, THE GHOUL, THE LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF,MASKS OF DEATH and THE TRRORNAUTS to name but a few. He worked with Amicus films and Tyburn pictures, one of his last supervisory assignments was to be present at the recording of the milestone release from Silva Screen MUSIC FROM THE HAMMER FILMS, the label had hoped that Martell would conduct the sessions but due to ill health he was unable to do so and Neil Richardson took his place. Philip Martell passed away in 1993 he had suffered a stroke in 1988 and never really recovered from that. Martell was a musical giant an immense talent and without his contributions I feel that British film music would have sounded very different.


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