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Richard Addinsell

richard addinsell, richard addinsell warsaw concerto
Richard Stewart Addinsell 13 January 1904 – 14 November 1977 was an English composer, best known for film music, primarily his Warsaw Concerto, composed for the 1941 film Dangerous Moonlight also known under the later title Suicide Squadron


  • 1 Biography
    • 11 Early life
    • 12 Early career
    • 13 Career in film composition
    • 14 Later career
  • 2 Personal life
  • 3 Film credits
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


Early life

Richard Addinsell was born in Woburn Square, London, to William Arthur Addinsell, who was a chartered accountant, and his wife, Annie Beatrice Richards The younger of two brothers, Addinsell was educated at home before attending Hertford College, Oxford, to study Law but went down after just 18 months He then became interested in music

Early career

In 1925, he enrolled at the Royal College of Music but lasted only two terms before leaving, again without obtaining any formal qualification By this time Addinsell was already collaborating with Noel Gay, among others, in an André Charlot Revue More work for Charlot in 1927 was followed in 1928 by a collaboration with Clemence Dane on Adam's Opera at The Old Vic In 1929, he completed his informal education by touring Europe to visit major theatrical and musical centres such as Berlin and Vienna

In 1932, with Clemence Dane, he wrote the incidental music for the Broadway adaptation of Alice in Wonderland by Eva Le Gallienne, starring Josephine Hutchinson produced 1933 In 1947 it was revived, starring Bambi Linn

Career in film composition

The Warsaw Concerto was written for the 1941 film Dangerous Moonlight, and continues to be a popular concert and recording piece The film-makers wanted something in the style of Sergei Rachmaninoff, but were unable to persuade Rachmaninoff himself to write a piece Roy Douglas orchestrated the concerto It has been recorded over one hundred times and has sold in excess of three million copies

Addinsell also wrote the short orchestral piece Southern Rhapsody, which was played every morning at the start of TV broadcasts by the former Southern Television company in the south of England from 1958 to 1981

As was common with film music until the 1950s, many of Addinsell's scores were destroyed by the studios as it was assumed there would be no further interest in them However, recordings of his film music have been issued since his death, often reconstructed by musicologist and composer Philip Lane from the soundtracks of the films themselves and conducted by Kenneth Alwyn or Rumon Gamba

Later career

He collaborated from 1942 with Joyce Grenfell for her West End revues including Tuppence Coloured and Penny Plain and her one-woman shows Addinsell's music is in the "English light music" style He regularly composed at the piano, providing other creative musicians such as Roy Douglas, Leonard Isaacs or Douglas Gamley with broad indications for their full orchestrations

Personal life

Addinsell retired from public life in the 1960s, gradually becoming estranged from his close friends He was, for many years, the companion of the fashion designer Victor Stiebel, who died in 1976

Addinsell died in Brighton in 1977 aged 73 His cremation took place at Golders Green Crematorium on 18 November 1977

In 1999 it was revealed that the royalties for Warsaw Concerto had belonged to the parents of author Jilly Cooper, whose brother advanced the theory that Addinsell – for many years their neighbour – gave it to them as thanks for being discreet about his relationship with Stiebel

Film credits

Note: The source for the television and film appearances is the British Film Institute


  1. ^ Randel, Don Michael, ed 1996 "Addinsell, Richard Stewart" The Harvard biographical dictionary of music Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ Press p 5 ISBN 0-674-37299-9 CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list link
  2. ^ a b c Lamb, Andrew 2004 'Addinsell, Richard Stewart 1904–1977' Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press Retrieved 13 September 2011subscription required
  3. ^ a b c d e Lane, Philip 2003 'The film music of Richard Addinsell' pdf Chandos Records Retrieved 12 September 2011
  4. ^ Lane, Philip 1999 'Richard Addinsell: film music' ASV Records [sleevenotes to CD reviewed by Lace, Ian 1999 on MusicWeb International Retrieved 12 September 2011
  5. ^ 'Richard Addinsell: Goodbye Mr Chips / A Tale of Two Cities', recording released on Marco Polo Records 1994 Retrieved 12 September 2011
  6. ^ 'Music of Richard Addinsell including Warsaw Concerto' ASV Records [CD reviewed by Seeley, Robert 1997 in Gramophone, September 1997, pp 121–122 Retrieved 13 September 2011
  7. ^ Lamb, Andrew 2002 'British light music: sound good, feel good', Gramophone November 2002, pp34–38 Retrieved 13 September 2011
  8. ^ Wilson, Scott Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed: 2 Kindle Locations 508-509 McFarland & Company, Inc, Publishers Kindle Edition
  9. ^ Daily Mail, June 1 1999
  10. ^ "Addinsell, Richard", British Film Institute, accessed 11 February 2012

External links

  • Richard Addinsell on IMDb including complete stream of Under Capricorn
  • Richard Addinsell at the British Film Institute website

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Richard Addinsell

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