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Rabinowitz' musical career began as a six-week stint playing sheet music for potential customers in a Johannesburg department store. His first job conducting an orchestra was for a show called “Strike a New Note” in 1945, using a rolled-up newspaper for a baton.
Rabinowitz left Johannesburg for England in 1946 to study conducting.
He was conductor of the BBC Revue Orchestra (1953–1960), music director for BBC Television Light Entertainment (1960–1968), and head of music for London Weekend Television (1968–1977). He has conducted at the Hollywood Bowl (1983-1984) and the Boston Pops Orchestra (1985-1992). He has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He was the conductor at the Orchestra of St. Luke's Ismail Merchant and James Ivory 35th anniversary celebration at Carnegie Hall on September 17, 1996.
He has conducted the film scores for dozens of movies including Chariots of Fire (1981), Return to Oz (1985), The Remains of the Day (1993), The English Patient (1996), The Talented Mr. Ripley(1999), and Cold Mountain (2003). He has also composed music for television including The Frost Report (1966), I, Claudius (1976), The Agatha Christie Hour (1982), and Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983).
He is a great believer in under-rehearsing orchestras, hoping it can be said of him that he never wasted his colleagues’ time.
Rabinowitz has been married twice. On December 15, 1944, he wed Lorna Thurlow. They divorced in 2000. On March 18, 2001, he wed Mary (Mitzi) C. Scott. He has three children: daughters Karen Lesley (born 1947) and Lisa Gabrielle (born 1960) and son Simon Oliver (born 1951). He lives in Portland, Oregon, from November through March and the rest of the year in Provence.
- Debrett's People of Today. Debrett's Peerage Ltd., 2008.
- Marquis Who's Who, 2008.
- Strauss, Neil. “Lush Odes to the Art of Two Film Makers” New York Times, September 19, 1996 page C16.
- Harry Rabinowitz at the Internet Movie Database Retrieved on 2009-03-07
- Q&A with Harry Rabinowitz, by Peter Korn January 18, 2008.