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Ron Goodwin
(17 February 1925 - 8 January 2003)

The Telegraph: 10 January 2003

Ron Goodwin, the composer, arranger and conductor who died on Wednesday aged 77, was responsible for some 60 film scores, among them 633 Squadron (1964), Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965), and Where Eagles Dare (1969).

Although Goodwin contributed to his last film in 1986, thereafter concentrating on other aspects of his musical career, the music for 633 Squadron has recently enjoyed repeated airings as the theme music for a commercial for an insurance company, in which pigs are seen flying in fighter formation.

Another film for which Goodwin wrote the score was The Trap (1966), starring Oliver Reed as a trapper in 19th-century British Columbia, and the music from this is used by the BBC to introduce its annual coverage of the London Marathon.

Ronald Goodwin was born on February 17 1925 at Plymouth, Devon, where his father was a policeman. The family later moved to London, and Ron was educated at Pinner County Grammar School, where he learned to play the trumpet.

Having left school, Goodwin made a half-hearted attempt to forge a career in the insurance business; but, as his employer gently pointed out, his heart was not in it, and he abandoned this path to devote himself to music. Having played at dance halls with his own jazz band, Ron Goodwin and the Woodchoppers, he graduated to being an occasional trumpeter with Harry Gold and his Pieces of Eight.

In 1943 Goodwin joined the arranging department of the music publishers Campbell & Connelly, and in 1945 he began a five-year stint as head of arrangement at Bron Associated Publishers. During this period he wrote arrangements for all the leading British dance bands and orchestras, including Geraldo, Ted Heath and the BBC Dance Orchestra. He also began to conduct recording sessions for performers such as Petula Clark and Jimmy Young, whose hit, Too Young, he arranged.

In 1950 Goodwin began a fruitful association with George Martin, who was to earn fame as the producing genius behind the Beatles, working as Martin's musical director. Goodwin also began broadcasting, and recording, as Ron Goodwin and his Concert Orchestra, becoming one of Parlophone's best-selling names.

It was during the 1950s that Goodwin began to compose scores for films. Initially he worked on documentaries at Merton Park Studios, but in 1958 he wrote his first score for a feature film, Whirlpool. Two years later he began to work with MGM British Studios, composing and conducting most of the scores for their British productions under Laurence P Bachmann.

Goodwin went on to write and conduct the music for some 60 films in all. They included Murder She Said (1961), starring Margaret Rutherford in an adaptation of an Agatha Christie thriller; Operation Crossbow (1965), a World War II drama; Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972); and Force Ten from Navarone (1978), adapted from a novel by Alistair MacLean.

Goodwin's involvement in the film Battle of Britain (1969) led to an embarrassing contretemps between United Artists and the composer Sir William Walton. Walton had been asked to write the score but, having delivered it, he was told that it was unsatisfactory, and that Goodwin had been asked to write a substitute. Walton called this "an extraordinary move and a bloody snub", and vowed never to write a film score again. In the end, only a brief sequence by Walton was used; the rest was Goodwin's work.

In 1986 Goodwin began to concentrate on concerts, at which he conducted and presented various examples of popular music and music from films. He had begun these in the 1970s at the Filmharmonic Concerts at the Albert Hall. Just before Christmas he had completed his 32nd tour with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, presenting music such as Frank Sinatra songs, James Bond themes and songs from Disney films.

Goodwin appeared as guest conductor with many of the major British orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Halle Orchestra. He also conducted in Detroit, New Zealand and Singapore.

Always keen to encourage young musicians, Goodwin worked with the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra, and was president of the City of Birmingham Schools Concert Orchestra. He was on the board of the Young Persons' Concert Foundation, and was a Fellow of the City of Leeds College of Music.

Goodwin also received three Ivor Novello Awards, most recently in 1994 for "Lifetime Achievement".

Ron Goodwin was married twice. With his first wife, Ellen, he had a son. In 1983 he married his second wife, whom he had known since his teens; she survives him.

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