English composer, jazz pianist and collage artist Richard Rodney Bennett was born at Broadstairs, Kent on 29 March 1936. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Howard Ferguson and Lennox Berkeley. Exposed to serialism whilst at Darmstadt with his friend Cornelius Cardew for summer music courses, he later studied in Paris with Pierre Boulez for two years. Despite this, his musical tastes were wide-ranging, including jazz, film music and a kind of neo-Romantic serialism.
He wrote more than two hundred concert works (including Sonnets to Orpheus, The Mines of Sulphur, Spells and The Garden - A Serenade to Glimmerglass). His later music became increasingly tonal. His fifty scores for film and television include Murder on the Orient Express, Lady Caroline Lamb and Four Weddings and a Funeral.
He taught at the Royal Academy of Music from 1963-5, and again later, from 1994 until 2000, as International Chair of Composition. His students included British composers Michael Berkeley, Paul Patterson and Graham Williams, and the Canadian-born trumpeter and flugelhorn player Kenny Williams.
Bennett died on 24 December 2012 in New York, aged seventy-six.
CD Spotlight. Versatility and Imagination - Choral music by Richard Rodney Bennett, appreciated by Gerald Fenech. 'Paul Spicer and his choristers give eloquent performances, full of precise details and expressive energy, and in their hands Bennett's imaginative prowess is brought to life with intense clarity.'
Ensemble. A Deep Impression - Less well-known music for oboe and piano played by James Turnbull and Libby Burgess, appreciated by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Highly Interesting - British music for cello and piano, enthralls Gerald Fenech. 'An important addition to the genre's discography in excellent performances, sound and annotations ...'
Ensemble. Music on the Move - Derby Concert Orchestra at Christmas, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
An Invaluable Book - Gergely Hubai's 'Torn Music: Rejected film scores, a selected history', recommended by Patric Standford
CD Spotlight. Gallic Sheen - Christmas choral music from Arsys Bourgogne, heard by Keith Bramich. '... a well-recommended stocking-filler ...'
Ensemble. The Finest of Them All - The 2012 Hereford Three Choirs Festival, reviewed by Roderic Dunnett
Ensemble. Thoroughly Enjoyable - Mike Wheeler listens to the Richard Roddis Singers on tour
Ensemble. A Small Masterpiece - Richard Rodney Bennett's 'All the King's Men' impresses Mike Wheeler
Timings - Universal Edition's preparations for the Mahler Centenary years (2010-2011), by Jennifer Paull
Ensemble. An Eloquent Performance - Music from the Richard Roddis Singers and the Helix Ensemble, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Outstanding Performances - Susan Milan at London's Wigmore Hall, reviewed by Bill Newman
Ensemble. An exciting career ahead - Manus Carey listens to Chinese pianist Wu Qian