Tag Archives: Richard Addinsell



Composer Richard Addinsell is probably best known for his powerfully lush and romantic WARSAW CONCERTO from the 1940 motion picture DANGEROUS MOONLIGHT, but this wonderful and haunting composition has in many ways sadly overshadowed the other film music that the British born composer penned during his busy and illustrious career. This collection of some of his film music triumphs is released on the CHANDOS recording label and performed magnificently by the BBC PHILHARMONIC under the baton of conductor Rumon Gamba, with arrangements and musical reconstruction work by Philip Lane, Roy Douglas, Steven Bernstein and Robert Sharples, this is collection of purely great film music from a bygone age the likes of which will regrettably never be seen again. The compact disc opens with a near 11 minute suite of Addinsell,s music for GOODBYE MR CHIPS (1939). Taken from the novel by James Hilton this amiable and consuming film starred Robert Donat, Geer Garson and Paul Heinreid, the film was produced by Victor Saville who had collaborated with Addinsell previously on movies such as DARK JOURNEY and SOUTH RIDING the director/producer and composer worked with each other from time to time over a thirty year period and Addinsell always fashioned memorable and rousing music for the film makers productions. GODBYE MR. CHIPS, was no exception to that rule the composer creating a wonderfully robust, lush and rousing work that also contained numerous subdued and graceful sounding interludes, the composer even at one point introducing an accordion into the proceedings. However it was the string section that was the main component of the work, either as a section performing sumptuously and filling the scenario with romantic and fervent content or as solo instruments purveying melancholy and emotion just at the correct moment, adding emotive and touching fragility to the story that was unfolding upon the screen. Addinsell also provided the movie with a school song which had words by Eric Maschiwitz. The music from the film was re constructed by Philip lane for this re-recording who remarks in the liner notes that very little of the original score remained, in fact just the piano score of the school song had survived. The next selection is from DANGEROUS MOONLIGHT, a now classic piece of film music that has crossed over into the concert hall THE WARSAW CONCERTO, is basically the reason that the movie is remembered. Addinsell surrounded himself with the scores of Rachmaninov or so it is said and along with the assistance of Roy Douglas penned the WARSAW CONCERTO, the piece was not merely music in a film, but it became a standard and also a popular piece that was listened to away from the movie.


The composition is romantic, dramatic and potent and influenced many compositions that would come in the following years in fact it influenced composer Victor Reyes score for the 2013 movie GRAND PIANO and remains one of the most enduring and influential pieces of British film music ever and ranks along side such other classics as THE LEGEND OF THE GLASS MOUNTAIN and DREAM OF OWLEN. The next section is dedicated to Addinsell’s score for the 1941 production of LOVE ON THE DOLE, which starred Deborah Kerr and Clifford Evans, directed by John Baxter the story which was set in the period of the depression during the 1930,s in a small Lancashire mill town, was at times down beat and fittingly sombre but there were glimpses of light that managed to shine through the gloom which handed the composer an opportunity to write some emotive and delicately romantic and humorously laced themes for the film which are more predominant in the scenes that displayed a rare trip to the seaside which is paid for from a winning wager on a horse race. The films screenplay was written by Walter Greenwood, Rollo Gamble and Barbara Emery and based upon Greenwoods play of the same name. Addinsell’s music fit’s the movie like a proverbial glove and compliments and supports it in all the right places and in fact assists it in attaining a realistic and at times stark persona. In 1945 Addinsell scored David Lean’s version of Noel Cowards BLITHE SPIRIT, the movie which starred Rex Harrison and Constance Cummings was it is rumoured not a favourite of Coward’s who thought that Lean’s take on his story was lacking. Addinsell and Coward however became friends ad remained in contact with each other long after the film was released, at times performing together for other friends and party guests. Sections of Addinsell’s score are represented here in a 10 minute cue that was re constructed by Philip Lane includes THE MAIN TITLES music, the music that was a background to Madame Arcati (Margaret Rutherford) riding her bike to the séance and also some quite busy sounding near travelogue music that accompanied Harrison and his new wife plus the Waltz which Addinsell penned to for Harrisons first wife Elvira. The composers score reflects both the reality and also the mysterious elements that are present within the story and superbly underlines, supports and enhances the beguiling storyline. We enter the decade of the 1950,s with the section on the compact disc, Directed by Henry Hathaway THE BLACK ROSE (1950) is a thirteenth Century romp which starred Tyrone Power, Orson Welles, Jack Hawkins and as a token love interest Cecile Aubry.

Addinsell’s music is certainly romantic, heroic and melodious but as it explains in the liner notes of the release that many of the sequences contained very short musical cues and it was difficult to incorporate these into any kind of substantial suite, however in my humble opinion this is probably one of the most enjoyable sections within the compilation and yes although brief (just over 7 mins) it is highly emotive and contains a beautiful central theme performed by lush strings with subdued percussion and supporting brass. A gem of a piece that is stirring and poignant. One year on from THE BLACK ROSE Addinsell scored SCROOGE with the brilliant actor Alastair Sim in the title role, a role if I might add he made his own and is also a performance that most recall when discussing the much filmed Charles Dickens tale. Addinsell incorporated traditional Christmas carols and music into his score. This is a wonderfully entertaining compilation of some of the film music of Richard Addinsell, and also includes music from his scores to TOM BROWNS SCHOOL DAYS (1951), THE ADMIRABLE CHRICHTON (1957) and OUT OF THE CLOUDS (1954). Out of all the excellent compact discs within the FILM MUSIC OF series on Chandos this I must say stands very high in the ratings it is a CD that I know you will enjoy and also return to many times, a triumph for Rumon Gamba with superb performances from Martin Roscoe (piano),Chetham’s Chamber Choir and The Manchester Cathedral Choir plus of course the flawless performance of the BBC Philharmonic and their leader Yuri Torchinsky. Please if you have missed this release remedy this oversight forthwith.




There have over the years been many compilations released under the title of THE FILM MUSIC OF a number of these have concentrated upon the music of British composers and also music from British movies of the 1930,s through to the late 1950,s and into the 1960,s. this was I truly think the Golden age of British film music where composers such as John Addison, William Alwyn, Sir Arnold Bax, Sir William Walton, Richard Addinsell, John Ireland, Malcolm Arnold, Stanley Black, Alan Rawsthorne, Clifton Parker, Vaughn Williams and many others applied their expertise and musical prowess to the world of cinema. Many of the composers who were involved in the scoring of British movies back in the 1940,s through to the late 1950,s were in fact classically trained and began their musical careers by writing for the concert hall in fact a number scored films for a while and then returned to “SERIOUS” music. These compilations of course were re-recordings which are excellent and wonderfully reconstructed and performed. However there are a couple of compilations that I would like to bring your attention too, BRITISH FILM MUSIC Vols 1 and 2 were released by Pavilion records ltd on the Pearl label. These two compilations have within their running time some classic British movie music and also contain the odd obscure piece from a movie that maybe we had forgotten. The difference between the Film Music of compilations and these is that they are the original recordings which include selections from the scores of movies such as THE RED SHOES, OLIVER TWIST, SCOTT OF THE ANTARTIC, THE OVERLANDERS, WHILE I LIVE, MALTA G.C., 49TH PARALELL, DANGEROUS MOONLIGHT, THE STORY OF A FLEMISH FARM, NICHOLAS NICKELBY, COASTAL COMMAND, THEIRS IS THE GLORY, THINGS TO COME and WESTERN APPROACHES to name just some of the titles.


Considering the age of the recordings it is surprising that they are so clear and sharp of course there are a few sections that have not weathered so well but I would not say that these are terrible and both of the compilations are an enjoyable listen and also a glimpse back into the heyday of British cinema and also into the Golden age of British movie music. I was particularly drawn to Arnold Bax’s music for the 1948 production of OLIVER TWIST and the beguiling and alluring piano performance of Harriet Cohen on the scores central theme and throughout the remainder of the work. Piano was an instrument that was featured a great deal within film scores throughout this period, examples of this can be heard within the two discs. On volume 1 for example we are treated to the glorious DREAM OF OLWEN from the 1947 production WHEN I LIVE penned by Charles Williams, with the piano solo being performed by Arthur Dudley and the stirring and melodious strings of The National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the composer.
This section also includes incidental music from the score which is a delight to hear. There is also a beautiful but at the same time slightly urgent piano solo on MEN OF TWO WORLDS by Arthur Bliss with the solo being performed by Eileen Joyce that is supported by choir, subdued woodwind and strings. Volume 1 also features The Prelude and Ballet Music from THE RED SHOES composed by Brian Easdale and performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Muir Mathieson. This first disc also contains John Irelands rousing and robust sounding music from THE OVERLANDERS (1946), Vaughn Williams stunning work for SCOTT OF THE ANTARTIC (1948) which is a score that influenced many composers who followed such as James Bernard and Malcolm Williamson. Volume 1 also contains selections from Lord Berners score to the 1947 production of NICHOLAS NICKLEBY which is filled with charm and elegance but includes its fair share of drama. LOVE STORY from 1944 contained a score by Hubert Bath and it is his CORNISH RHAPSODY that represents his score on this compilation which is track 19 on volume 2. Overall these two compact discs are an excellent purchase and are certainly an entertaining collection and representation of British Film Music, a great addition to any film music collection. Volume 1 runs for 74 mins and Volume 2, runs for nearly 80 mins. Informative notes are included in both volumes which make fascinating reading. Well worth having.


richard-addinsell-1267631482-hero-wide-1RICHARD ADDINSELL was born in London on the 13th of January 1904, one of his many popular compositions was from the movie DANGEROUS MOONLIGHT, for which the composer penned the dramatic, haunting and now classic piece called The Warsaw Concerto, which was brought to greater life by the wonderful orchestration of Roy Douglas. The films producers told Addinsell that they wanted a piece that sounded similar to Rachmaninov and Addinsell obliged them with The Warsaw Concerto,  the music became an instant success and was recorded by numerous artists and has to date sold well over five million copies, the piece was released on many recordings and appealed to three sets of fans, the classical market, the popular market and also admirers of film music and it is still to this day performed regularly as a standard concert/film music piece. Addinsell studied at Oxford University and then later at The Royal College of Music in London. The composer began his career by writing songs for revues and also providing stage productions with incidental music. In 1928 Addinsell wrote the incidental score for ADAMS OPERA which was by writer Clemence Dante,which was the beginning of a collaborative partnership that was to endure until Dante,s death.  Addinsell also on many occasions  wrote music for and accompanied singer Joyce Grenfell, who became a close friend.  During the early 1930,s the composer traveled to the United States and there began to write music for a number of Hollywood motion pictures.  The composers first major film score was to be GOODBYE MR CHIPS in 1939, but his greatest success however was to be his music for the film Dangerous Moonlight, which included the aforementioned Warsaw Concerto for piano and orchestra. On the actual film score the concerto was performed by Louis Kentner with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by the great Muir Mathieson. Adinsell,s film scores included, Amateur Gentleman (1936 for Alexandre Korda), Fire Over England (1937), South Riding (1937), Goodbye Mr Chips (1939), Gaslight (1940), The Lion Has Wings (1940), Men of the Lightship (1940), Love on the Dole (1941), Suicide Squadron (1941), The Avengers (1942), Blithe Spirit (1945), A Diary for Timothy (1945), Passionate Friends (1949), Under Capricorn (1949), The Black Rose (1950), A Christmas Carol (1950-aka SCROOGE) ,Highly Dangerous (1951), Tom Brown’s School Days (1951), Encore (1952), Sea Devils (1953), Beau Brummel (1954), Out of the Clouds (1957), The :Prince and the Showgirl (1957), A Tale of Two Cities (1958), Loss of Innocence (1961), Macbeth (1961), The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone (1961), Waltz of the Toreadors (1962) and Life at the Top which was the composers last film score in 1965.He passed away on November 14th 1977.


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The period referred to as the Golden age of cinema, was I suppose just that, it was a time when filmmakers seemed to be able to do no wrong with audiences and every day a new and exciting breakthrough was made within the motion picture industry. It was a time of rip roaring swashbucklers, intense and risqué romances, dastardly villains, cleaner than clean heroes and heroines and good old weepie’s, with storylines that were not exactly water tight but none the less good old entertainment. Everything was pretty much black and white within the area of the plots or storylines, good was good and bad was at times downright evil. But it was not just the movies that shone like precious and valuable golden nuggets during this period, music in motion pictures became an important and also a vital component of the whole filmmaking process.
Directors and producers utilising this fairly new commodity to its full potential to enhance and support their projects. I think it would be fair to state that film music owes a great debt of gratitude to composer Max Steiner, who broke new ground with his score for the 1933 version of KING KONG. What was interesting and innovative about Steiner’s approach on this movie was that the composer actually scored the music to the action taking place rather than just providing the movie with a constant musical background or wallpaper, which had been the norm up until then.
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What Steiner started was soon to become the way forward for music in film or film music, thus the film score as we know it was born and rapidly evolved and improved as time passed, composers such as Korngold, Rozsa, Newman, Toimkin and Waxman became sought after by filmmakers and studios and their scores and style of writing has now become a reference for all other composers that have followed. But let us also not forget that whilst all this music was being produced in Tinsel town, British films too had a Golden age and composers such as Sir William Walton, Ralph Vaughn Williams, Sir Arthur Bliss, Richard Addinsell, Clifton Parker, Sir Arnold Bax, William Alwyn and Alan Rawsthorne were responsible for writing some great movie soundtracks during the 1930s and 1940s, a fact that is slightly overshadowed and neglected because of the Hollywood film score. But Alwyn, Williams and Walton in particular were responsible for creating a sound and a style that was to become synonymous with the British produced movie.
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It is quite unbelievable that it has not been till recent years that scores from British films from this period have been given any time or space by record companies, and it is thanks to labels like Chandos, Naxos and Silver Screen that collectors have got to savour the musical masterpieces created by these talented yet underrated composers. There were also composers in Europe that are most note worthy, who were very active and creative during this period. 
These include the French composers Georges Auric, Arthur  Honegger Jean Francaix and Henri Sauget, also we must not discount Dmitri Shotakovich and the great Sergei Prokfiev, who although thought of more as classical composers, worked their musical magic on numerous movies to great effect. So The Golden Age in film music was not restricted to Hollywood, therefore this section is dedicated to composers that worked in the United States, Europe and also in Gt Britain, and also composers that worked in more than one country such as Miklos Rozsa and Georges Auric