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Howard Blake

Born: 1938

Nationality: British

Publisher: Chester Music

Photo © Geoffrey Argent

Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians states that ‘Howard Blake has achieved fame as pianist, conductor and composer.’ He grew up in Sussex, from the age of 11 singing lead roles as a boy soprano and at 18 winning the Hastings Festival Scholarship to The Royal Academy of Music, where he studied piano with Harold Craxton and composition with Howard Ferguson. Over an intensely active career he has written numerous film scores, including 'The Duellists' with Sir Ridley Scott and Lord David Puttnam which gained the Special Jury Award at the Cannes Festival in 1977, 'A Month in the Country' with Kenneth Branagh and Colin Firth which gained him the British Film Institute Anthony Asquith Award for musical excellence in 1989, and 'The Snowman', which was nominated for an Oscar after its first screening on Channel 4 in 1982 and has won many other prizes internationally. His famous song ‘Walking in the Air’, for which he also wrote the lyrics, was the success that launched Aled Jones in 1985, whilst the concert version for narrator and orchestra is now performed world-wide as well as the full-length stage show/ballet, celebrating its 13th consecutive Christmas season in 2010 for Sadler’s Wells at The Peacock Theatre in London and, touring this year in Korea. The Stage Show is to be released on DVD by Sony in the autumn of 2010.

Howard has composed many concert works, including the Piano Concerto commissioned by The Philharmonia Orchestra for the 30th birthday of Princess Diana in 1991 in which he also featured as soloist: the Violin Concerto to celebrate the centenary of the City of Leeds in 1993; the cantata to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations Organization in 1995, performed in the presence of the Royal Family in Westminster Hall; and the large-scale choral/orchestral work 'Benedictus', championed by Sir David Willcocks and the Bach Choir, given its London premiere in Westminster Cathedral in 1989 with Cardinal Hume as narrator and widely performed ever since.

More recent works are ‘Lifecycle’ - 24 pieces for solo piano - recorded for ABC Classics in 2003; ‘Songs of Truth and Glory’ , The Elgar Commission for the Three Choirs Festival in 2005; and a first recording of ‘The Land of Counterpane’ a song-cycle to words by Robert Louis Stevenson recorded in the Usher Hall Edinburgh in March 2007 with The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, which he conducted. In 2008 he was pianist with violinist Madeleine Mitchell in a CD for Naxos of his works for strings and piano and in August 2009 undertook a major recording for the same company conducting 'The Passion of Mary' and 'Four Songs of the Nativity' with London Voices and the RPO. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and in 1994 received the OBE for services to music.

9th August 2009
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