Richard Stewart Addinsell (13 January 1904 – 14 November 1977) was a British composer, best known for film music, primarily his Warsaw Concerto, composed for the 1941 film Dangerous Moonlight (also known under the later title Suicide Squadron).
Richard Addinsell was born in Woburn Square, London, to William Arthur Addinsell, who was a chartered accountant, and his wife, Annie Beatrice Richards. The younger of two brothers, Addinsell was educated at home before attending Hertford College, Oxford, to study Law but left after just 18 months. He then became interested in music.
In 1925, he enrolled at the Royal College of Music but lasted only two terms before leaving, again without obtaining any formal qualification. By this time Addinsell was already collaborating with Noel Gay, among others, in an André Charlot Revue. More work for Charlot in 1927 was followed in 1928 by a collaboration with Clemence Dane on Adam's Opera at The Old Vic. In 1929, he completed his informal education by touring Europe to visit major theatrical and musical centres such as Berlin and Vienna.
In 1932, with Clemence Dane, he wrote the incidental music for the Broadway adaptation of Alice in Wonderland by Eva Le Gallienne, starring Josephine Hutchinson (produced 1933). In 1947 it was revived, starring Bambi Linn.
Career in film composition
The Warsaw Concerto was written for the 1941 film Dangerous Moonlight, and continues to be a popular concert and recording piece. The film-makers wanted something in the style of Sergei Rachmaninoff, but were unable to persuade Rachmaninoff himself to write a piece. Roy Douglas orchestrated the concerto. It has been recorded over one hundred times and has sold in excess of three million copies.
Addinsell also wrote the short orchestral piece Southern Rhapsody, which was played every morning at the start of TV broadcasts by the former Southern Television company in the south of England from 1958 to 1981.
As was common with film music until the 1950s, many of Addinsell's scores were destroyed by the studios as it was assumed there would be no further interest in them. However, recordings of his film music have been issued since his death, often reconstructed by musicologist and composer Philip Lane from the soundtracks of the films themselves and conducted by Kenneth Alwyn or Rumon Gamba.
He collaborated from 1942 with Joyce Grenfell for her West End revues (including Tuppence Coloured and Penny Plain) and her one-woman shows. Addinsell's music is in the "English light music" style. He regularly composed at the piano, providing other creative musicians such as Roy Douglas, Leonard Isaacs or Douglas Gamley with broad indications for their full orchestrations.
Addinsell retired from public life in the 1960s, gradually becoming estranged from his close friends. He was, for many years, the companion of the fashion designer Victor Stiebel, who died in 1976.
In 1999 it was revealed that the royalties for Warsaw Concerto had belonged to the parents of author Jilly Cooper, whose brother advanced the theory that Addinsell - for many years their neighbour - gave it to them as thanks for being discreet about his relationship with Stiebel.
- Randel, Don Michael, ed. (1996). "Addinsell, Richard (Stewart)". The Harvard biographical dictionary of music. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-674-37299-9.
- Lamb, Andrew (2004). 'Addinsell, Richard Stewart (1904–1977)'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2011-09-13.(subscription required)
- Lane, Philip (2003). 'The film music of Richard Addinsell' (pdf). Chandos Records. Retrieved 2011-09-12.
- Lane, Philip (1999). 'Richard Addinsell: film music'. ASV Records [sleevenotes to CD reviewed by Lace, Ian (1999) on MusicWeb International. Retrieved 2011-09-12.
- 'Richard Addinsell: Goodbye Mr Chips / A Tale of Two Cities', recording released on Marco Polo Records (1994). Retrieved 2011-09-12.
- 'Music of Richard Addinsell including Warsaw Concerto'. ASV Records [CD reviewed by Seeley, Robert (1997) in Gramophone, September 1997, pp 121–122. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
- Lamb, Andrew (2002). 'British light music: sound good, feel good', Gramophone November 2002, pp.34–38. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
- Daily Mail, June 1 1999
- "Addinsell, Richard", British Film Institute, accessed 11 February 2012
- Richard Addinsell at the Internet Movie Database (including complete stream of Under Capricorn)
- Richard Addinsell at the British Film Institute website
- Southern Rhapsody - Southern Television 1950s/60s Start-up on YouTube