Main content

Eric Coates

Donald Mcleod explores the life and works of British composer Eric Coates.

Donald Macleod salutes a composer with a unique ability to match a national mood with music. For five decades Eric Coates's music seemed to pervade the national consciousness, stirring the war effort, celebrating the Dam Busters and defining some of the nation's best loved radio and television programmes.

Coates's student years proved to be startlingly memorable with a revolver at the Royal Academy and a premiere at the Proms.

Coates is forced into a dramatic decision about his future, but suite success is not far away. Donald Macleod also talks to Desert Island Discs host Kirsty Young, who reveals how the show's title music, By the Sleepy Lagoon, continues to inspire her.

As he moves into several addresses in and around London, thanks to his wife's hobby as an early property developer, Eric Coates falls in love with the city.

As war is declared, Coates's stirring marches came into their own. And he pays musical tribute to the three Elizabeths of English royalty, music that came to be associated with another famous family.

Finally, Coates wishes he hadn't given up cigarettes, flirts with politics and royalty, and starts his film career at age 68. And to finish, a rare foray into chamber music and the composer's own favourite work.

Release date:


1 hour, 12 minutes


Role Contributor
Composer Eric Coates