Born in Paris, Wilkinson studied composition at Columbia and Princeton Universities; he also took some private lessons with Varèse in New York. For a time he was resident composer and musical director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, then musical director of the Royal National Theatre (1963–74). One of the first scores he composed in that post was for Peter Shaffer’s The Royal Hunt of the Sun; the result deeply impressed the playwright, who has described Wilkinson’s work as “perhaps the best score for a play to be written since Grieg embellished Peer Gynt“. Wilkinson subsequently wrote the incidental music to Shaffer’s play Equus (1973).
Through his work at the National Theatre Wilkinson met Piers Haggard, who was working as an assistant director: the two worked together on the National Theatre production The Dutch Courtesan (1964). Having directed several TV dramas, Haggard was about to direct his first feature film and invited Wilkinson to score. The result is one of Wilkinson’s most celebrated film scores, Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971),acclaimed by Jonathan Rigby in English Gothic as “easily among the best ever composed for a British horror film”. Wilkinson subsequently gave crucial advice to Paul Giovanni who had been commissioned to score the film The Wicker Man.
Q: Where and when were you born and what musical education did you receive?
I was born in Paris, July 1929… Australian nationality… MA degree Columbia University, NY, USA and MFA degree Princeton University, New Jersey, USA. I also studied independently with Edgard Varese in NY. Continue reading Marc Wilkinson