Howard Goodall

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Howard Goodall
Goodall at the Church of St John the Baptist in Barnstaple, Devon, May 2009
Goodall at the Church of St John the Baptist in Barnstaple, Devon, May 2009
Background information
Birth nameHoward Lindsay Goodall
Born (1958-05-26) 26 May 1958 (age 65)
Bromley, Kent, England
Occupation(s)Composer, presenter for television and radio (Classic FM - "Composer-in-Residence")
Years active1979–present
Spouse(s)Val Fancourt

Howard Lindsay Goodall CBE (/ˈɡʊdɔːl/; born 26 May 1958)[1] is an English composer of musicals, choral music and music for television. He also presents music-based programmes for television and radio, for which he has won many awards. In May 2008, he was named as a presenter and "Composer-in-Residence" with the UK radio channel Classic FM.[2] In May 2009, he was named "Composer of the Year" at the Classic BRIT Awards.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Born in Bromley, Kent, Goodall was educated at New College School, where he was a chorister in the Choir of New College, Oxford.[4] He then went on to Stowe School and Lord Williams's School. He read music at Christ Church, Oxford,[5] where he gained a first-class degree.[6]

He is married to Val Fancourt, who is a classical music agent, and they have two daughters.[5]


Popular music[edit]

In the late 1970s, Goodall was a member of the band Half Brother with his friend Jonathan Kermode.[7] They produced an eponymous LP album, Half Brother, in 1978.

Musical theatre[edit]

Goodall's 1984 musical The Hired Man, an adaptation of the novel by Melvyn Bragg, won an Ivor Novello award (1985) and TMA Award (2006) award for Best Musical. Professional revivals of The Hired Man in recent years include a UK tour by the New Perspectives Theatre Company in 2008 and a production directed by David Thacker and Elizabeth Newman at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton in June 2010.

A Winter's Tale now known as A Summer's Tale, commissioned for the opening of the Sage Gateshead in December 2005 was presented during 2009/10 by Youth Music Theatre UK. In 2011 its London professional premiere at the Landor Theatre won the Off west end award for Best New Musical.

Love Story, based on the novella by Erich Segal, premiered in 2010 at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester.

Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical, written with Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges and Charles Hart began previewing at the Phoenix Theatre, London, in May 2015.

Other musicals include Girlfriends (1986), Days of Hope (1991), Silas Marner (1993), The Kissing-Dance (1998),[8] The Dreaming (2001) (both with Charles Hart), A Winter's Tale (2005) and Two Cities (2006).


Goodall has composed the main themes and incidental music for UK comedy programmes including Red Dwarf, Blackadder, Mr. Bean, The Thin Blue Line, The Vicar of Dibley, The Catherine Tate Show, 2point4 Children, Words and Pictures and QI,[9][10][11] on which he has also appeared twice as a panellist. A single "Tongue Tied" from Red Dwarf reached no. 17 on the UK charts.

As an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford, Goodall met actor Rowan Atkinson and writer Richard Curtis, his collaborators on several of these projects, including his first break into TV, Not the Nine O'Clock News.

Choral works[edit]

Goodall has a body of choral music to his name, including "In Memoriam Anne Frank" (2001), "O Lord God of Time and Eternity" (2003) and settings of Psalm 23 (used as the theme tune to The Vicar of Dibley) and "Love Divine". In September 2008, his Eternal Light: A Requiem was premiered by Rambert Dance Company to choreography by the company's artistic director, Mark Baldwin. The result of a commission from London Musici to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Eternal Light: A Requiem was commissioned as both a choral-orchestral-dance piece and a choral orchestral work. The London premiere took place on 11 November 2008 at Sadler's Wells with Rambert Dance Company, London Musici, The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Finchley Children's Music Group and soloists, conducted by Paul Hoskins. Also in September 2008, EMI Classics released the premiere recording of Eternal Light: A Requiem, with soloists Natasha Marsh, Alfie Boe and Christopher Maltman joining London Musici, The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and conducted by Stephen Darlington. Eternal Light: A Requiem has now had over 700 live performances across the world.

In March 2009, Classic FM released Howard Goodall's Enchanted Voices, a modern exploration of ancient chant, scored for upper voices, cello, organ, handbells and synthesiser. The disc marks Goodall's position as Classic FM's Composer-in-Residence for 2009. A month after its UK release, it became the best-selling specialist choral CD of 2009. It subsequently earned a nomination for Classical Brit Album of the Year. Howard Goodall's Enchanted Voices was followed by Howard Goodall's Enchanted Carols (November 2009) and Pelican in the Wilderness (March 2010).

Goodall arranged an orchestral and choir score for Psalm 122 for Tonbridge School to commemorate their chapel which burnt down in the 1980s. Goodall was also commissioned by Truro Cathedral to write a new work for all four of the Cathedral's choirs: Truro Cathedral Choir (boys and men), St Mary's Singers (mixed adults), Cornwall Youth Choir and Cornwall Junior Choir. The piece, entitled A New Heart, A New Spirit, sets a text from Wisdom and Ezekiel in four languages (English, Latin, French and Cornish).[12]

The 45-minute oratorio, Every Purpose Under the Heaven (The King James Bible Oratorio), was premiered in Westminster Abbey in November 2011 (conducted by the composer). It was commissioned as a gift to the United Church Schools Trust and United Learning Trust from Sir Ewan and Lady Harper, to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Every Purpose Under the Heaven was recorded and released on the Decca Classics/Classics fm CD Inspired in 2012.

Goodall's commission Rigaudon was part of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Regatta and he was musically responsible for Rowan Atkinson's performance at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.

I am Christmas Day premiered at Southwark Cathedral as part of the Mercy Ships Charity annual Carol Service on Wednesday 5 December 2012. Commissioned by Mercy Ships UK, the work was performed by Southwark Cathedral Girls Choir, conducted by the composer.

Goodall contributed two choral items for the August 4th commemoration of the beginning of the First World War at St Symphorien Military Cemetery near Mons, Belgium, broadcast live in BBC2. He arranged British and German soldiers' songs into a suite with band accompaniment (The Band of the Coldstream Guards) and composed an entirely new work in English and German, "Sure of the Sky, Sure of the Sun – Des Himmels sicher, der Sonne sicher", performed jointly by the London Symphony Chorus and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Choir, conducted by Simon Halsey, based on the poems "May, 1915" by Charlotte Mew (1869–1928) and "An einen vermißten Freund!" by a German soldier killed in action on the Western Front, Goldfeld (discovered by Peter Appelbaum). Present at the event, alongside members of the UK Government, were the presidents of Germany and Ireland, the King and Queen of the Belgians, and Prince William and Catherine and Prince Harry.

Steadfast, with music and lyrics by Goodall, was released on 14 October 2014, in aid of Global's Make Some Noise, a charity that helps disadvantaged children in the UK. Steadfast included performance contributions from Katherine Jenkins, Laura Wright, Milos, Charlie Siem, Alfie Boe, Myleene Klass and Alexander Armstrong.

More Tomorrows was commissioned by Classic fm for Cancer Research UK and premiered by the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall on 25 April 2013, conducted by the composer.

Invictus: A Passion, a 55-minute work for soloists, chorus and small orchestra, was commissioned by St Luke's United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, and premiered there under the composer's baton in March 2018, with the UK premiere following in May 2018, given by the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford and Stephen Darlington.

Unconditional Love: A Cantata of Gratitude and Remembrance was commissioned by St Luke's United Methodist Church, Houston as a piece to reflect the world we were living in through the Covid-19 pandemic (premiered in Houston in 2021). St Luke's also commissioned Christmas Cantata which premiered again in Houston (Dec 2019) and both pieces are now having national premieres worldwide.


As well as presenting the BBC's Choir of the Year, Young Musician of the Year, Goodall was Classic FM's Composer-in-Residence and host of Saturday Night at the Movies for six years. Among many programmes, he has presented six award-winning series of television programmes on musical theory and history, filmed by Tiger Aspect and broadcast on Channel 4:

  • Howard Goodall's Organworks (1996) – history of the organ
  • Howard Goodall's Choirworks (1998) – history of choral music
  • Howard Goodall's Big Bangs (2000) – pivotal events in the history of music (also a book, published by Vintage in 2001, ISBN 0-09-928354-9
  • Howard Goodall's Great Dates (2002) – important dates in the history of music
  • Howard Goodall's 20th Century Greats (2004) – exploring the divergence between classical and popular music in the 20th century
  • Howard Goodall's How Music Works (2006) – analysing the fundamental components of music itself.[13]
  • The Truth About Christmas Carols (2008) – a documentary examining the surprising, and often secret, history of the traditional Christmas carol
  • Hallelujah! The Story of Handel's Messiah (2010) – celebrates Handel's "Messiah" and looks at its origins and modern arrangements

Broadcast on BBC2:

  • Howard Goodall's The Story of Music (2013) – traces the story of music from the ancient world to the modern day. The book accompanying this series has been translated into many languages.
  • Sgt. Pepper's Musical Revolution (2017) – a 50th anniversary retrospective of the album's making by the Beatles and its impact, shown on both BBC2 and PBS on 3 June 2017.[14][15]

Goodall received a Royal Television Society award for Organworks and the 2000 BAFTA Huw Wheldon award for Big Bangs, which also won several international prizes.

Goodall was musical commentator for the V&A exhibition David Bowie Is in 2013,[16] Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes in September 2010,[17] and Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains in 2017.[18]



Year Title Director(s) Notes
1979–1982 Not the Nine O'Clock News 28 episode
1983–1989 Blackadder 24 episodes
1985–1986 ABC Weekend Special 2 episodes
1987 CBS Schoolbreak Special Episode: "What If I'm Gay"
1987 Murder by the Book Lawrence Gordon Clark Television film
1988–2017 Red Dwarf 73 episodes
1989 Carl Jung: Wisdom of the Dream Stephen Segaller
1990–1992 No Job for a Lady 9 episodes
1990–1995 Mr. Bean 15 episodes
1991 Bernard and the Genie Paul Weiland Television film
1992 A Time to Dance Kevin Billington
1992 The Borrowers John Henderson
1995 The Last Englishman John Henderson Television film
1995–1996 The Thin Blue Line 14 episodes
1997 Chalk 12 episodes
1999 Blackadder: Back & Forth Paul Weiland Television short film
2002 The Gathering Storm Richard Loncraine
2002–2019 Mr. Bean: The Animated Series 130 episodes
2003 The Adventure of English
  • Robert Bee
  • David Thomas
2005 Shakespeare's Happy Endings Stephen Leslie
2005 The Catherine Tate Show Theme music composer
2003–present QI 260 episodes
2009 Into the Storm Thaddeus O'Sullivan Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score)
2012–2014 Intresseklubben 34 episodes
2013 The Spa 7 episodes


Year Title Director Notes
1997 Bean Mel Smith
2003 Johnny English Peter Howitt Theme music composer, main score composed by Edward Shearmur
2007 Mr. Bean's Holiday Steve Bendelack
2018 Johnny English Strikes Again David Kerr


Goodall has been awarded honorary Doctorates of Music from Bishop Grosseteste University College in Lincoln, the University of Bolton, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts with the University of East Anglia and Doctor of Literature (Education) from the Institute of Education, University College London. The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) gave him its Gold Badge Award for exceptional work in support of his fellow British composers. In 2007, he received the Making Music/Sir Charles Groves Prize for Outstanding Contribution to British Music and was appointed by the UK Government as England's first ever National Ambassador for Singing, leading a 4-year programme (Sing Up) to improve the provision of group singing for all primary-age children.[19]

In April 2009, Goodall was nominated for The Classical BRITs "Composer of the Year" award for Eternal Light: A Requiem, which he won in May 2009,[3] and in July 2009 he was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category "Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special (Dramatic Score)" for his work on the Winston Churchill biopic Into the Storm;[20] which he went on to win on 12 September at a ceremony in Los Angeles.[21]

In 2009, Goodall received the Karl Haas Prize for Music Education, awarded by the Klassix Society–Friends of 88.7KXMS / Fine Arts Radio International of Missouri Southern State University.

Additional awards include the Naomi Sergeant Memorial Award for Outstanding contribution to British Music, the MIA/Classic fm award for Outstanding contribution to Music Education and a Primetime EMMY award for Original Dramatic Score for the score of the HBO film Into the Storm.

In January 2011, Goodall was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to music education.[22]


  1. ^ "Goodall, Howard Lindsay, (born 26 May 1958), composer and broadcaster". Who's Who. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.17462.
  2. ^ Kiss, Jemima (15 May 2008). "Blackadder composer joins Classic FM". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Military band scoops Classical Brit". The Guardian. London. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  4. ^ Jardine, Casandra (17 January 2007). "'If you can't pitch by 9, it's too late'".
  5. ^ a b "Howard Goodall's official biography". Archived from the original on 28 April 2007. Retrieved 24 April 2007.
  6. ^ Woodforde, Giles (18 December 2008). "Howard Goodall and Christ Church Choir". The Oxford Times. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  7. ^ "Half Brother". Discogs. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  8. ^ Gardner, Lyn (28 March 2011). "The Kissing Dance – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
  9. ^ The QI Theme Tune,
  10. ^ "BBC - Comedy - QI Homepage". 22 February 2006. Archived from the original on 22 February 2006 – via
  11. ^ Goodall, Howard (2015). "QI Theme (Piano Solo)". Faber Music Limited. Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2020. See preview. This is a sheet music download. When your transaction is complete you will have up to 7 days to print the music yourself – it will not be posted to you.
  12. ^ "A New Heart, A New Spirit". Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
  13. ^ "How Music Works with Howard Goodall". Channel 4.
  14. ^ Rees, Jasper (3 June 2017). "Sgt Pepper's Musical Revolution: with Howard Goodall – an ideal insight into the seminal Beatles album, BBC Two review". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Sgt. Pepper's Musical Revolution". PBS. 3 June 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  16. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Diaghilev & the Ballets Russes". 11 June 2012.
  18. ^ "V&A · Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains". Victoria and Albert Museum.
  19. ^ "Announcements - GOV.UK". 3 September 2023.
  20. ^ "2009 Emmy scorecard". Los Angeles Times. July 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  21. ^ [2][permanent dead link]
  22. ^ "No. 59647". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2010. p. 7.

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