On 21 July we’re celebrating the life and work of the late Geoffrey Burgon with performances of a selection of his film and television music, as well as two of his concertos. Burgon is famous for the accessibility of his music, rebelling against avant-garde orthodoxies which controlled commissions and performance at the beginning of his career. He produced over 200 compositions during his lifetime, and is considered as one of the gems of English contemporary music.
Born in 1941 Burgon went to the Guildhall School of Music & Drama originally to train as a jazz trumpeter. However, composition took over as his major interest and he found success writing ballet scores for Ballet Rambert and London Contemporary Dance Theatre. It was his incredibly popular Requiem that established Burgon as a serious composer, and his reputation was sealed. Much of his fame developed from his wonderful scores for film and television, including Brideshead Revisited in 1981, which led to many offers from Hollywood. He is also known for his music for Doctor Who in the 1970s, Bleak House (1985), the Chronicles of Narnia (1988-90), Robin Hood (1991), and The Forsyte Saga (2002-03).
It would be wrong to pigeon hole Burgon in the film/television composer bracket. His Viola Concerto, know as Ghosts of the Dance was commissioned by concert soloist Philip Dukes, and was influenced by 1930s American dance music and the effects of the Depression. In his Cello Concerto, a piece which explores the relationship between soloist and orchestra in a novel way, Burgon began to see the soloist as a figure in Film Noir, pursued by dark forces but prevailing and eventually escaping to a dreamlike ‘Hollywood Heaven’ world.
For a flavour of some of the music we’ll be performing at the concert listen to our Spotify playlist.
Extracts from TV and Film scores
The event will be presented by Monty Python’s Terry Jones.