Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett

Last updated 09 January 2020

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012)
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Sir Richard Rodney Bennett

Born: Sunday 29th March 1936
Died: Monday 24th December 2012 (age: 76)


Sir Richard Rodney BennettCBE was an English composer renowned for his film scores and his jazz performance as much as for his challenging concert works. He lived in New York City since 1979.

Richard Rodney Bennett was born at BroadstairsKent. He was a pupil at Leighton Park School, the Quaker school in Reading, studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Howard FergusonLennox Berkeley and Cornelius Cardew. During this time, he attended some of the Darmstadt summer courses, where he was exposed to serialism. He later spent two years in Paris as a student of the prominent serialist Pierre Boulez.

Bennett taught at the Royal Academy of Music between 1963 and 1965, at the Peabody Institute in BaltimoreUnited States from 1970 to 1971, and was later International Chair of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music between 1994 and the year 2000. He received a CBE in 1977, and was knighted in 1998.

As one of Britain�s most respected and versatile musicians, Bennett produced over two hundred works for the concert hall, and fifty scores for film and television, as well as having been a writer and performer of jazz songs for fifty years. Studies with Boulez in the 1950s immersed him in the techniques of the European avant-garde, though he subsequently developed his own distinctive dramato-abstract style. In recent years, he has adopted an increasingly tonal idiom.

He  wrote music for films and television; among his scores are the Doctor Who story The Aztecs (1964) for television, and the feature film Billion Dollar Brain (1967). His scores for Far from the Madding Crowd (1967), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), and Murder on the Orient Express (1974), each garnered him Academy Award nominations, with Murder on the Orient Express earning him a BAFTA award. Later works include Enchanted April (1992), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), and The Tale of Sweeney Todd (1998). He was also a prolific composer of orchestral works, piano solos, choral works and operas. Despite this eclecticism, Bennett's music rarely involves crossover of styles.

He died on 24th December 2012, 

Obituaries: The Guardian

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