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Richard Addinsell (1904-1977) - British composer and songwriter:

The Film Music of Richard Addinsell CD cover Richard Addinsell is probably more famous for the "Warsaw Concerto" than anything else that he wrote. This piece was written for a wartime movie called "Dangerous Moonlight" during which the music is heard in snatches before being played almost in full at a concert near the end of the film. For piano and orchestra, it is in a highly flamboyant Romantic style, like Rachmaninov or Lizst. At the time the music seemed to capture the public imagination becoming an instant hit. (It perhaps wasn't to everyone's taste though, if you've read Spike Milligan's "Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall".) Despite this single piece which seems to overshadow his other work, Addinsell composed music for numerous films, for the stage, for many BBC radio and television programmes, and he also wrote many songs. Interestingly, British cinema audiences were a few years later treated to the real thing (so to speak) when Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto was used extensively on the soundtrack for the film "Brief Encounter".

Richard Addinsell: The Warsaw Concerto, etc. CD cover Addinsell's education was sporadic. He didn't attend school, being taught at home, and incomplete attempts at studying first Law and then Music (at The Royal College of Music with periods in Berlin and Vienna) were both abandoned without formal qualifications. He was however an excellent pianist, as you can probably guess from the "Warsaw Concerto". He spent a couple of years in the USA before returning to England, where he quickly found partners in Clemence Dane and Gertrude Lawrence who sang many of his songs. With Clemence Dane he created incidental music for "Adam's Opera" following by an adaptation of Lewis Carol's "Alice" books. Then later he was to team up with Joyce Grenfell writing more songs for her revue shows (during which he often accompanied her on the piano). His style is very much what might be called "English Light Music" and his music for films such as "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" and "Tom Brown's Schooldays" is firmly traditional with hints of English folk music and Elgar-like pride and pomp. Addinsell was versatile though, being able to adapt to period dramas, thrillers, romances and comedies, and composed soundtracks for a number of films in these genres.

Films by Richard Addinsell:

    British Light Music: Richard Addinsell CD cover
  • The Amateur Gentleman
  • South Riding
  • Goodbye, Mr. Chips - with the oscar-winning turn by Robert Donat as the schoolmaster
  • The Lion has Wings
  • Gaslight
  • Love on the Dole
  • Dangerous Moonlight - the film featuring the "Warsaw Concerto", played on the soundtrack by Hungarian pianist Louis Kentner
  • Blythe Spirit - directed by David Lean who was later to collaborate with composer Maurice Jarre
  • Alice - TV version of the play
  • The Siege of Tobruk
  • Fire Over England - a period drama
  • Under Capricorn
  • Scrooge (1951) - also known as "A Christmas Carol" with Alistair Sim in the title role
  • Tom Brown's Schooldays
  • Beau Brummel
  • The Admirable Crichton
  • The Prince and the Showgirl - played respectively by Lawrence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • Life at the Top
  • The Greengage Summer
  • The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone
  • Waltz of the Toreadors
  • The War Lover

Richard Addinsell - Recommendations:

The Sheet Music to "The Warsaw Concerto" is available arranged for solo piano from Sheet Music Plus and other online locations, and don't worry - it is not as difficult as Rachmaninov! The following CDs have a comprehensive range of film music by Addinsell: