|Birth name||George Richard Ian Howe|
|Born||19 October 1949|
Bromley, Kent, England
George Richard Ian Howe CBE (born 19 October 1949), known professionally as George Fenton, is an English composer. Best known for his work writing film scores and music for television, he has received five Academy Award nominations, several Ivor Novello, BAFTA, Golden Globe, Emmy and BMI Awards, and a Classic BRIT. He is one of 18 songwriters and composers to have been made a Fellow of the Ivors Academy (formally BASCA).
He has frequently collaborated with the directors Richard Attenborough, Nora Ephron, Alastair Fothergill, Stephen Frears, Nicholas Hytner, Ken Loach, Andy Tennant, Neil Jordan and Terry Gilliam.
Early life and career
George Fenton was born in 1949 in Bromley, Kent, one of five siblings. He was educated at Carn Brea School and St Edward's School, Oxford. He began learning the guitar at the age of 8 and at St Edwards studied the organ with Peter Whitehouse. He did not attend music college but continued to study with Pete Whitehouse and subsequently with the ethnomusicologist and composer, John Leach.
In 1968 he appeared in Alan Bennett's first West End play Forty Years On. The following year he was offered a place at the Central School of Speech and Drama but had by then decided to continue with his music and had a record contract with MCA Records. For the next few years, he continued to work in theatre playing small parts and playing and writing music.
In 1974, Fenton received his first major commission, as composer and musical director for Peter Gill's theatre production of Twelfth Night by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Throughout the rest of the 1970s and early 1980s, Fenton worked frequently as a composer for theatre productions. He continued to collaborate regularly with Peter Gill (composing for 9 of his productions) and also worked in regional theatre as well as for the Royal Shakespeare Company and The National Theatre.
Other theatre includes The Judas Kiss, Last Cigarette, Untold Stories, Allelujah!, Mrs Henderson Presents, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Talking Heads, Beat The Devil and Racing Demon.
In 1992, George Fenton was credited with the Sound Track to the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show at Disneyland, Paris.
Fenton wrote his first television score in 1976. This was a continuation of his collaboration with Peter Gill and it was for Gill's production of Hitting Town written by Stephen Poliakoff.
By the late 1970s, Fenton was working regularly in television. His television work has included LWT's Six Plays by Alan Bennett, Objects Of Affection, An Englishman Abroad, Talking Heads (2003), Bloody Kids, Going Gently, Walter, Saigon: Year of The Cat, Fox, Out, Telling Tales, The History Man (TV series), Shoestring (TV series), The Monocled Mutineer and the multi BAFTA winning The Jewel In The Crown.
Wildlife television documentaries
Fenton has composed for a number of notable wildlife television programmes, often collaborating with the wildlife broadcaster David Attenborough and the nature documentary filmmaker Alastair Fothergill. He started on the BBC's long-running series Wildlife on One and Natural World.
Since 1990, he has written the music for a number of wildlife series including The Trials of Life, Life in the Freezer, The Blue Planet, Planet Earth, and Frozen Planet. Other documentaries include Beyond The Clouds, Shanghai Vice and Between Clouds and Dreams (for Director Phil Agland).
In 2003, he composed and conducted the music for the feature documentary film, Deep Blue. It was performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra – the first film score the orchestra had recorded in its history. In 2007 they repeated the collaboration for the feature documentary film, Earth.
Television and radio themes
Fenton has composed the jingles or theme music to dozens of British television and radio programs, including Shoestring, Bergerac, One O'Clock News, Six O'Clock News and Nine O'Clock News, Newsnight and Newsnight Review, On the Record, Omnibus, BBC Breakfast Time, BBC World News, Reporting Scotland, London Plus, Telly Addicts, Daily Politics, and BBC Radio 4's PM programme.
Fenton has written the music for over one hundred feature films.
His first major break came in 1982  with Richard Attenborough's biopic Gandhi, for which he was nominated—with his collaborator, Ravi Shankar for the Academy Award for Original Music Score. Fenton wrote another four film scores for Attenborough's films: Cry Freedom, Shadowlands, In Love and War and Grey Owl.
He has also frequently worked with the theatre and film director Nicholas Hytner, writing the score for all six of the movies that Hytner has directed. These are The Madness of King George, The Crucible, The Object of My Affection, Center Stage, The History Boys and The Lady in the Van. The latter three of these allowed Fenton to collaborate again with their writer Alan Bennett. Although Fenton composed the original music of five of these films, for The Madness of King George he instead adapted and arranged the music of Handel.
Fenton's long-standing collaboration with Stephen Frears has not been limited to television productions. Fenton has scored four of Frear's feature films: Dangerous Liaisons, Hero, Mary Reilly and Mrs Henderson Presents. He also worked with the director Neil Jordan, scoring The Company of Wolves, High Spirits and We're No Angels.
Fenton has scored more feature films for Ken Loach than for any other filmmaker, by 2019, a total of 17. This started in 1994 with Ladybird, Ladybird followed by Land and Freedom, Carla's Song, My Name Is Joe, Bread and Roses, The Navigators, Sweet Sixteen, Ae Fond Kiss..., The Wind That Shakes the Barley which won the Palme d'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, It's a Free World..., Looking for Eric, The Angels' Share, the documentary film The Spirit of '45, Jimmy's Hall, I, Daniel Blake and, most recently, Sorry We Missed You.
Fenton has developed other long-standing collaborations with filmmakers, scoring several films each for directors as diverse as Harold Ramis, Nora Ephron, Phil Joanou and Andy Tennant, including Multiplicity, Groundhog Day, Mixed Nuts, You've Got Mail, Final Analysis, The Fisher King, Heaven's Prisoners, Ever After: A Cinderella Story, Sweet Home Alabama (film), Anna and the King, Hitch, Bewitched and The Secret: Dare to Dream.
Fenton won an Ivor Novello Award, BAFTA and Emmy Award for Best Television Score for The Blue Planet and, in October 2002, he created "The Blue Planet in Concert" which was premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in London. He subsequently created Planet Earth In Concert and Frozen Planet In Concert and took these concerts to venues such as Hollywood Bowl, Sydney Opera House, Wembley Arena and the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam.
In 2003, he scored and conducted the music for the documentary film Deep Blue, which was performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the first film score the orchestra had recorded in its history. In 2007, they repeated the collaboration for the documentary film, Earth. With the producer Jane Carter, Fenton turned each of the scores into concert works. His live film scores continue to be performed by orchestras worldwide.
Fenton was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2023 New Year Honours for services to music.
|1971||Private Road||Barney Platts-Mills|
|1977||A Lustful Lady||Hal E. Woode||Short film|
|1978||Me! I'm Afraid of Virginia Woolf||Stephen Frears||Television film|
|1978||Doris and Doreen||Stephen Frears||Television film|
|1978||The Waterloo Bridge Handicap||Ross Cramer||Short film|
|1979||Afternoon Off||Stephen Frears||Television film|
|1980||Bloody Kids||Stephen Frears|
|1980||Hussy||Matthew Chapman||First Run Features|
|1980||Rain on the Roof||Alan Bridges||Pennies From Heaven Ltd.||Television film|
|1980||The Tumour Principle||Arthur Ellis||Short film|
|1980||Dead End||Alan Birkinshaw||Short film|
|1981||No Country for Old Men||Tristram Powell||Television film|
|1982||Gandhi||Richard Attenborough||Columbia Pictures|
|1982||Walter||Stephen Frears||Television film|
|1982||Parole||Michael Tuchner||Television film|
|1983||Walter and June||Stephen Frears||Television film|
|1983||Saigon: Year of the Cat||Stephen Frears||Television film|
|1983||An Englishman Abroad||John Schlesinger||Television|
|1984||The Company of Wolves||Neil Jordan||ITC Entertainment|
|1985||Past Caring||Richard Eyre||Television|
|1986||Clockwise||Christopher Morahan||Universal Pictures|
|1987||84 Charing Cross Road||David Jones||Columbia Pictures|
|1987||Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire||Alan Clarke||ITC Entertainment|
|1987||Cry Freedom||Richard Attenborough||Universal Pictures|
|1987||White Mischief||Michael Radford||Columbia Pictures|
|1988||A Handful of Dust||Charkes Sturridge||New Line Cinema|
|1988||High Spirits||Neil Jordan||Palace Pictures|
|1988||Dangerous Liaisons||Stephen Frears||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|1988||The Dressmaker||Jim O'Brien||Euro American Pictures|
|1989||We're No Angels||Neil Jordan||Paramount Pictures|
|1990||Memphis Belle||Michael Caton-Jones||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|1990||The Long Walk Home||Richard Pearce||Miramax Films|
|1990||White Palace||Luis Mandoki||Universal Pictures|
|1991||The Fisher King||Terry Gilliam||TriStar Pictures|
|1992||Final Analysis||Phil Joanou||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|1992||Hero||Stephen Frears||Columbia Pictures|
|1993||Groundhog Day||Harold Ramis||Columbia Pictures|
|1993||Born Yesterday||Luis Mandoki||Hollywood Pictures|
|1993||Shadowlands||Richard Attenborough||Savoy Pictures|
|1994||China Moon||John Mailey||Orion Pictures|
|1994||Ladybird, Ladybird||Ken Loach||Samuel Goldwyn Company|
|1994||Mixed Nuts||Nora Ephron||TriStar Pictures|
|1995||Land and Freedom||Ken Loach||Gramercy Pictures|
|1996||Mary Reilly||Stephen Frears||TriStar Pictures|
|1996||Heaven's Prisoners||Phil Joanou||New Line Cinema|
|1996||Multiplicity||Harold Ramis||Columbia Pictures|
|1996||Carla's Song||Ken Loach||Universal Pictures|
|1996||The Crucible||Nicholas Hytner||20th Century Fox|
|1996||In Love and War||Richard Attenborough||New Line Cinema|
|1997||The Woodlanders||Phil Agland|
|1998||Dangerous Beauty||Marshall Herskovitz||Warner Bros. Pictures
20th Century Fox
|1998||The Object of My Affection||Nicholas Hytner||20th Century Fox|
|1998||My Name Is Joe||Ken Loach||Artisan Entertainment|
|1998||Ever After||Andy Tennant||20th Century Fox|
|1998||Living Out Loud||Richard LaGravenese||New Line Cinema|
|1998||You've Got Mail||Nora Ephron||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|1999||Entropy||Phil Joanou||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|1999||Grey Owl||Richard Attenborough||20th Century Fox|
|1999||Anna and the King||Andy Tennant||20th Century Fox|
|2000||Bread and Roses||Ken Loach||Lionsgate|
|2000||Center Stage||Nicholas Hytner||Columbia Pictures|
|2000||Lucky Numbers||Nora Ephron||Paramount Pictures|
|2001||Summer Catch||Mike Tollin||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|2001||The Navigators||Ken Loach|
|2002||Sweet Sixteen||Ken Loach||Icon Film Distribution|
|2002||Sweet Home Alabama||Andy Tennant||Touchstone Pictures|
|2003||Imagining Argentina||Christopher Hampton||Arenas Entertainment|
|2003||Deep Blue||Alastair Fothergill
|2004||Ae Fond Kiss...||Ken Loach||Icon Film Distribution|
|2004||Stage Beauty||Richard Eyre||Lionsgate|
|2005||Hitch||Andy Tennant||Columbia Pictures|
|2005||Valiant||Gary Chapman||Buena Vista Pictures|
|2005||Bewitched||Nora Ephron||Columbia Pictures|
|2005||Mrs Henderson Presents||Stephen Frears||Pathé
The Weinstein Company
|2006||Last Holiday||Wayne Wang||Paramount Pictures|
|2006||The Wind That Shakes the Barley||Ken Loach||Pathé
IFC First Take
|2006||The History Boys||Nicholas Hytner||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
|2007||It's a Free World...||Ken Loach|
|2008||Fool's Gold||Andy Tennant||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|2009||Looking for Eric||Ken Loach||Icon Film Distribution|
|2010||The Bounty Hunter||Andy Tennant||Columbia Pictures|
|2011||One Life||Michael Gunton
|Magic Light Pictures|
|2012||The Angels' Share||Ken Loach||Entertainment One|
|2013||The Spirit of '45||Ken Loach|
|2013||Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight||Stephen Frears||HBO Films|
|2013||The Zero Theorem||Terry Gilliam||Stage 6 Films|
|2014||Jimmy's Hall||Ken Loach||Entertainment One|
|2015||Absolutely Anything||Terry Jones||Lionsgate|
|2015||The Lady in the Van||Nicholas Hytner||TriStar Pictures|
|2016||I, Daniel Blake||Ken Loach||eOne Films|
|2016||Wild Oats||Andy Tennant||The Weinstein Company
|2017||Woman Walks Ahead||Susanna White||A24
|2018||Red Joan||Trevor Nunn||Lionsgate|
|2019||Cold Pursuit||Hans Petter Moland||Summit Entertainment|
|2019||Sorry We Missed You||Ken Loach|
|2020||The Secret: Dare to Dream||Andy Tennant|
|2021||The Duke||Roger Michell||Pathé
Awards and nominations
- 1983 Nominated Best Original Score for Gandhi (shared with Ravi Shankar)
- 1988 Nominated Best Original Score and Best Original Song both for Cry Freedom (both shared with Jonas Gwangwa)
- 1989 Nominated Best Original Score for Dangerous Liaisons
- 1992 Nominated Best Original Score for The Fisher King
- 1981 Nominated BAFTA TV Award Best Original Television Music for Shoestring (Also for: Bloody Kids, Fox)
- 1982 Won BAFTA TV Award Best Original Television Music for Bergerac (also for The History Man, Going Gently, the BBC News theme)
- 1983 Nominated BAFTA Film Award Best Score for Gandhi
- 1985 Nominated BAFTA TV Award Best Original Television Music for The Jewel in the Crown
- 1987 Won BAFTA TV Award Best Original Television Music for The Monocled Mutineer
- 1988 Nominated BAFTA Film Award Best Score for Cry Freedom
- 1989 Nominated BAFTA TV Award Best Original Television Music for Talking Heads
- 1990 Nominated BAFTA Film Award Best Original Film Score for Dangerous Liaisons
- 1991 Nominated BAFTA Film Award Best Original Film Score for Memphis Belle
- 1991 Nominated BAFTA TV Award Best Original Television Music for The Trials of Life
- 1994 Nominated BAFTA TV Award Best Original Television Music for Life in the Freezer
- 1996 Nominated Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music for The Madness of King George
- 2002 Won BAFTA TV Award Best Original Television Music for The Blue Planet
- 2006 Nominated Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music for Mrs Henderson Presents
- 2007 Nominated BAFTA TV Award Best Original TV Music for Planet Earth
- 2012 Nominated BAFTA TV Award Best Original Tv Music for Frozen Planet
- 2002 Won Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series for The Blue Planet - Seas of Life: Ocean World
- 2005 Nominated Primetime Emmy Outstanding Music Composition for Pride
- 2007 Won Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Music Composition for Planet Earth – From Pole to Pole
- 1988 Nominated Golden Globe Best Original Score – Motion Picture for Cry Freedom (shared with Jonas Gwangwa)
- 2000 Nominated Golden Globe Best Original Score – Motion Picture for Anna and the King
- 2000 Nominated Golden Globe Best Original Song – Motion Picture for Anna and the King
- 1984 Nominated Grammy Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special for Gandhi (shared with Ravi Shankar)
- 1989 Nominated Grammy Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television for Cry Freedom (shared with Jonas Gwangwa)
Ivor Novello Awards
- 1980 Nominated Best Best Theme from A TV or Radio production for Shoestring
- 1981 Nominated Best Best Theme from A TV or Radio production for Fox
- 1983 Nominated Best Best Theme from A TV or Radio production for Omnibus
- 1983 Won Best Film Theme or Song for Gandhi (shared with Ravi Shankar)
- 1985 Won Best Theme from A TV or Radio production for The Jewel in the Crown
- 1985 Nominated Best Theme or Song for The Company of Wolves
- 1987 Won Best Best Theme from A TV or Radio production for The Monocled Mutineer
- 1988. Won Best Film Score for Cry Freedom (shared with Jonas Gwangwa)
- 1993 Nominated Best Film Theme or Song for Final Analysis
- 1995 Nominated for Best Theme from A TV or Radio production for Beyond The Clouds
- 1995 Won Best Film Score for Shadowlands
- 1999 Nominated Best Film Score for Ever After
- 2000 Nominated Best Film Score for Anna and the King
- 2002 Nominated Best Original TV Music for The Blue Planet
- 2005 Nominated Best Original Film Score for Deep Blue
- 2010 Nominated Best TV Soundtrack for Life
Classical Brit Awards
- 2007 Winner Best Soundtrack for Planet Earth
EFA Awards (European Film Awards)
- 2012 Nominated European Composer for The Angels' Share
IFMCA Awards (Film Music Critics)
- 1998 Nominated Film Score of the Year for Dangerous Beauty
- 1998 Nominated Best Original Score for a Drama Film for Dangerous Beauty
- 1998 Nominated Film Composer of the Year
- 1998 Nominated Best Original Score for a Drama Film for Ever After: A Cinderella Story
- 1999 Nominated Film Composer of The Year
- 2007 Winner Best Original Score for Television for Planet Earth
- 2008 Winner Best Original Score for a Documentary for Earth
- 2009 Nominated Best Original Score for a Comedy Film for Fool’s Gold
- 2010 Nominated Best Original Score for a Television Series for Life
- 2012 Nominated Best Original Score for a Documentary for Frozen Planet
- 2015 Nominated Best Original Score for a Documentary for Bears
- 2016 Nominated Best Original Score for a Comedy Film for The Lady in the Van
World Soundtrack Awards
- 2015 Winner Lifetime Achievement
- 1994 Winner Film Music for Groundhog Day
- 1999 Winner Film Music for You’ve Got Mail
- 2003 Winner Film Music for Sweet Home Alabama
- 2005 Winner Film Music for Hitch
- 2010 Winner Film Music for The Bounty Hunter
Fenton founded the Association of Professional Composers which later amalgamated with the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors and with the Composers' Guild of Great Britain to become the British Academy of Composers & Songwriters. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is a visiting professor at the Royal College of Music and the University of Nottingham.
In 2020, he and Simon Chamberlain released the album, The Piano Framed. Available digitally and on CD and vinyl, it has solo piano arrangements by Chamberlain of many of Fenton's scores including The Blue Planet, Dangerous Liaisons, The Lady in the Van and Groundhog Day.
- ^ "George Fenton Official Website Biography". georgefenton.com. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
- ^ "George Fenton official website biography". Retrieved 1 October 2018.
- ^ "St Edward's Oxford - Governors".
- ^ "Hymn". National Theatre. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
- ^ "George Fenton, Desert Island Discs - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
- ^ a b George Fenton, Desert Island Discs – BBC Radio 4, BBC, retrieved 16 December 2015
- ^ Recordings :: George Fenton, George Fenton Music, retrieved 18 December 2015
- ^ Eaton Music – George Fenton, Theatre Credits, Eaton Music, retrieved 18 December 2015
- ^ "Talking Heads Live". Bridge Theatre. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
- ^ "Stephen Poliakoff on Hitting Town". Bleeding Cool. 6 September 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- ^ "How writing PM theme made composer 'very nervous'". BBC. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
- ^ Film Scores, George Fenton Music, retrieved 15 December 2015
- ^ "The Madness of King George (1994)". IMDb. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- ^ "George Fenton official eebsite biography". George Fenton. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
- ^ "No. 63918". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2022. p. N10.
- 1949 births
- Academics of the Royal College of Music
- BAFTA winners (people)
- DreamWorks Animation people
- English film score composers
- English male film score composers
- English television composers
- Ivor Novello Award winners
- Living people
- Male television composers
- Musicians from London
- People educated at St Edward's School, Oxford
- People from Bromley
- Primetime Emmy Award winners
- Sony Pictures Animation people
- Varèse Sarabande Records artists