Entertainment & Arts

Film and TV composer Geoffrey Burgon dies aged 69

Geoffrey Burgon
Image caption Geoffrey Burgon won Bafta awards for his music for The Forsyte Saga and Channel 4's Longitude

Internationally renowned British film and television composer Geoffrey Burgon has died at the age of 69, his publishers have confirmed.

His soundtrack to the 1981 adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, starring Jeremy Irons, earned Burgon one of two Ivor Novello awards.

He also composed music for The Chronicles of Narnia, Doctor Who and Monty Python's Life Of Brian.

James Rushton of Chester Music said Burgon's music "truly touched hearts".

Born in 1941 in Hampshire, England, Burgon took up the trumpet at the age of 15, before enrolling at the Guildhall School of Music.

His early compositions were largely for ballet, notably for Ballet Rambert and the London Contemporary Dance Theatre.

A breakthrough performance of his Requiem at the Three Choirs Festival in 1976 established his name, leading to several major commissions and allowing him to pursue composition as a full-time career.

In 1979 his music for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - in particular the haunting arrangement of the prayer Nunc Dimittis that played over the closing credits - won Burgon his first Ivor Novello.

More recently the composer won Bafta awards for The Forsyte Saga and Channel 4's Longitude.

However, despite lucrative offers from Hollywood, his principal focus was concert music - and the composer said he spent fewer than two months of each year working for television and film.

"Geoff was much more than simply a media composer," said Mr Rushton.

"Most of his musical conversation was about the classical concert world and he retained a keen ear for the classical music of his peers.

"His large catalogue of concert works, from the imposing and dramatic Requiem from the mid-1970s to the recent viola concerto and cello concerto, reveals a composer in full control of a very immediate, lyrical and varied language, and one whose work deserves wide attention."

Burgon's works included a concerto for the percussionist Evelyn Glennie, City Adventures (1994), a piano concerto for Joanna MacGregor (1997), and Hard Times, an opera based on Charles Dickens' novel of the same name (1991).

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