Ron Goodwin (b. 1925)
To possess a musical voice that isinstantly recognisable despite its solid roots in harmonic tradition is a rareachievement indeed in these days of 'international', anonymous music. Add tothis an innate ability to write both memorable tunes and evoke the many moodsdemanded of a film director, and one begins to see the outlines of a sketch ofone of our leading living composers in the field of popular music.
Ron Goodwin was born in Plymouth, Devon on 17th February, 1925, the son of a policeman. Piano lessons that started at the age offive were continued in north west London where the family moved four yearslater. While at the local Willesden County School he took up the trumpet, andafter transferring to Pinner County School developed his interest in thetheoretical side of music, taking it as one of his matriculation examinations.
While still at school he formed his own band - Ron Goodwin and his Woodchoppers- and gained useful practical experience (and, it is to be hoped, recompense)with a series of semi-professional engagements, but, following his mother'sassertion that music was 'not very respectable' and that he should get a'proper' job, Ron became a junior clerk in an insurance office. Not for long,however, for using the office phone once too often to fix dates for his band,he was 'advised' by his boss to 'get a job in music'.
This 'job in music' was as a copyist withthe music publishers Campbell, Connelly & Co Ltd, which led to the chanceof studying arranging with Harry Stafford, and in the course, an appointment asarranger with the Parrmor Gold Orchestral Service, where Ron Goodwin's workincluded arrangements for a weekly BBC Overseas series, Composer Cavalcade, coveringcomposers from Noel Coward to Albert Ketelbey. He also played the trumpet withHarry Gold and His Pieces of Eight, and in his spare time studied conductingprivately with Siegtried de Chabot of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Following this, Ron Goodwin became staffarranger for Edward Kassner, and started up an association with Alan Freemanwho had inaugurated the Polygon label for Pye, thus having the opportunity toprovide vocal backings for leading singers like Jimmy Young and Petula Clark,and arrangements for musical directors like Ted Heath, Geraldo and StanleyBlack.
It was George Martin, however, who, as theassistant A & R manager at Parlophone, was to give Ron his most importantbreak to date. By putting him under contract to record same of hisarrangements, Ron became musical director for countless artists, includingPeter Sellers. The recording orchestra, 'Ron Goodwin and his Concert Orchestra'was also heard on radio programmes from Morning Music to VarietyPlayhouse, which Ron took over for the summer months from comedian /musician Vic Oliver. The first of his many LPs, Film Favourites, wasfollowed by Skiffling Strings which, as Swinging Sweethearts wentinto the American hit parade and led to Ron's departure for the States for aseries of television shows and radio dates. Another early success was Jet
Journey, which became the signature-tune for the long running BBC TVseries, What's My Line?. It is not surprising that by 1975 hereceived a gold disc to mark sales of one million albums with the concertorchestra.
A jazz score for a documentary was Ron'sintroduction to the art of film composing in 1957. This led to several moredocumentaries before the chance to score his first feature film, Whirlpool, starringJuliette Greco. Among his most memorable scores are the four Miss Marple filmsstarring Margaret Rutherford, the war epics 633 Squadron, WhereEagles Dare (his own favourite among the film scores) and Battle ofBritain, comedies like Those Magnificent Men in Their FlyingMachines (the title-song of which he wrote in the time it took him to walkfrom the producer's office to his own) and Monte Caroo or Bust, aridmythical fantasies like Lancelot and Guinevere, and Beauty and theBeast. Ever keen to produce something just that little different, Ronpenned perhaps the first and only brass-band film score to date, Disney's Escapefrom the Dark, and a twelve-tone one for the thriller The Executioner.
In more recent times he has travelled theworld conducting concerts of film music with leading orchestras. He has won threeIvor Novello Awards and four certificates of honour, in particular one in 1972in a category created especially, The Entertainment Music Award, for hisoutstanding contribution to British music. The same year he was nominated for aGolden Globe Award for his score of Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy. In morerecent times other honours have come his way. In 1993 he was made a Fellow ofthe City of Leeds College of Music, and a year later received the coveted Ivor NovelloAward for Lifetime Achievement in music.
 Theme from 633 Squadron
Although he is often labelled as a composerfor war films, 633 Squadron was Ron's first attempt at the genre, in his24th film. Despite his experience in the field, it took a good while before hehit on the idea of using the actual numbers in the title as an integral part ofthe theme. Once this was 'locked in', the theme itself came relatively easily,and must rank, alongside Magnificent Men, as his most popular item. Thefilm tells the story of an air raid on a German munitions factory in Norwayresulting in much loss of planes and men, but not of the star, Cliff Robertson.
Drake 400 Suite
Early in 1979 the City Fathers of Plymouthcommissioned Ron to write a work for the Drake 400 Commemorative Festival to beheld in the city from 10th to 28th May 1980, and designed to celebrate SirFrancis Drake's return to Plymouth after his round-the - world voyage. Thefirst public performance took place in the Guildhall on 24th September with thecomposer conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
 The Eddystone Seascape - Andantemaestoso
Ron had childhood memories of watching theintermittent flash of the Eddystone lighthouse, conjuring up images of passingwarships and liners battling their way through huge and heavy seas.
 Song of the Mewstone - Adagiotranquillo
This haunting picture of The Great Mewstonejutting from the sea in Wembury Bay has a timeless atmosphere of loneliness andmystery, perfectly caught in scoring for cor anglais accompanied by strings andharp.
 The Barbican - Hornpipe (Giocoso)
The Barbican is that part of the harbourwhere fish could be bought from the fishing-boats, as they came in. In thismovement the composer's mind wanders beyond the immediate to the unashamedlyfanciful, with hints of old sailing-ships, and their crews enjoying t