Richard Rodney Bennett

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Sir Richard Rodney Bennett
Sir Richard Rodney Bennett (1936–2012) was a composer noted for film scores and jazz performance as well as concert works.

He was born in Broadstairs but brought up in Budleigh Salterton. His mother was a pianist who had trained with Gustav Holst. his father was an author and poet who had worked with Roger Quilter. Bennett studied at the Royal Academy of Music and then in Paris under Pierre Boulez. He later taught at the Royal Academy of Music.

He produced many concert works, plus scores for films such as Murder on the Orient Express and Four Weddings and a Funeral. He also wrote jazz songs, and performed as a jazz pianist, but there was little crossover between his jazz and clasical work. He said that it was as if the different styles of music that he was writing went on "in different rooms, albeit in the same house".[1]

In later years he also became an artist working in the medium of collage.

From 1979 onwards he lived mainly in New York. He received a knighthood in 1998.

Daryl Runswick has written:

"He was a cultured gay man and every aspect of his creativity was defined by elegance. He would not go for strong avant-garde statements in any genre – it was contrary to his very core. He wanted, and achieved, a refined style in both his music and his life: that is why he went to New York, and was so happy there."[2]


  1. Nicholas Wroe, "A life in music: Richard Rodney Bennett" Guardian 22 July 2011
  2. Adam Sweeting, "Sir Richard Rodney Bennett obituary" Guardian 26 December 2012