Ron Goodwin

Ron Goodwin

Ronald Alfred Goodwin (17 February 1925 – 8 January 2003) was a British composer and conductor best known for his film scores.


Ron Goodwin was born in Plymouth in Devon. He went to Pinner County Grammar School, in Middlesex. He was taught the piano from an early age, and later studied the trumpet in London at the Guildhall School of Music. His first job in music was as a copyist and arranger working for a variety of publishing companies and bands, including some attached to the British Broadcasting Corporation. Through the documentary film business he was introduced to music for the movie industry, which he later said was "a very good training". He worked as a ghostwriter for Phil Green, Stanley Black, Geraldo and Peter Yorke amongst others. He later worked as a conductor in recording sessions for a number of popular music artists, Petula Clark among them.

In the 1950s he joined Parlophone, and worked alongside George Martin there. He continued to accompany artists such as Peter Sellers, for example on his "Goodness Gracious Me" album, as well as beginning to broadcast and release records with his own orchestra, the 'Ron Goodwin Concert Orchestra’, from which came a string of popular LPs.

Goodwin was also a guest conductor with a number of symphony orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He usually conducted film music by himself and others, light music, and arrangements of popular music on these occasions. He also made a number of records of orchestral versions of pop tunes.

Goodwin won three Ivor Novello Awards, including one for lifetime achievement in 1994. He was also given honorary Freedom of the City of London.

Goodwin was a sufferer of asthma. He died suddenly in 2003 at his home near
Newbury having recently completed conducting his last series of Christmas concerts with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.


Ron Goodwin is particularly famous for his film music, and during his career Goodwin worked on over 60 film scores. His first film work was for documentary films, and his first feature was "Whirlpool" in 1958, followed by work in television and on the film "The Day of the Triffids" in 1962.

His work on a number of famous war films, is particularly well remembered, with the title marches in wide use with military bands, brass bands and orchestras. These include "Where Eagles Dare" (1968), "Battle of Britain" (1969), for which he replaced William Walton, "633 Squadron" and "Operation Crossbow".

After many requests from military bands, the opening music from Battle of Britain, originally titled the "Luftwaffe March", was officially retitled "Aces High".

He also wrote the scores for "Of Human Bondage" (1964), "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines" (1965), Alfred Hitchcock's 1972 film "Frenzy" (for which he replaced Henry Mancini), and two movies featuring Morecambe and Wise, as well as several Norman Wisdom films, including "The Early Bird". He also composed the music for the movie "Lancelot and Guinevere" (1962).

One of his most beloved soundtracks was the music composed for the four Miss Marple movies, starring Margaret Rutherford, "Murder, She Said" (1961), "Murder at the Gallop" (1963), "Murder Most Foul" (1963) and "Murder Ahoy" 1964. The familiar 'Miss Marple tune' was released as a 7" single in 1966 and the music score from the four films was released on CD in 1992, along with music from 'Lancelot and Guinevere' and 'Force 10 from Navarone'.

He is also remembered for some of his light music compositions, such as "The Headless Horseman" and the theme for 1966 film "The Trap" that has been used for many years by the BBC as the theme to the London Marathon coverage.

Goodwin composed all of the music and songs for a series of animated films, that included "The Happy Prince", "The Selfish Giant" and "The Little Mermaid". The first two of these being based on stories by Oscar Wilde, and the latter by Hans Christian Andersen. All three of these films feature original music composed by Goodwin and the songs feature extremely altruistic lyrics with moral lessons. This collection of animated films was available on VHS through Reader's Digest under the collection title "Classic Fairy Tales".

He also released several albums with his Concert Orchestral, such as "Music For An Arabian Night" and "Holiday in Beirut".

Personal life

Goodwin was married twice, his second wife is called Heather. He has one granddaughter called Anna.


*A Man with a Gun/Whirlpool (1958)
*The Witness/I'm Alright Jack (1959)
*The Trials of Oscar Wilde/Village of the Damned (1960)
*Murder She Said/Postman's Knock/Johnny Nobody/Village of Daughters (1961)
*Kill or Cure/Follow the Boys/I Thank a Fool/Lancelot and Guinevere (1962)
*Murder at the Gallop/633 Squadron/Ladies Who Do (1963)
*Murder Ahoy/Murder Most Foul/Of Human Bondage (1964)
*Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines/The Alphabet Murders/Operation Crossbow (1965)
*The Trap/Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon (1966)
*Mrs Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter/Magnificent Two (1967)
*Where Eagles Dare/Decline and Fall of a Birdwatcher (1968)
*Monte Carlo or Bust/Battle of Britain (1969)
*The Executioner (1970)
*The Selfish Giant (1971)
*Frenzy (1972)
*The Little Mermaid/Gawain and the Green Knight (1973)
*The Happy Prince/Deadly Strangers (1974)
*One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing/Spanish Fly (1975)
*Escape from the Dark/Beauty and the Beast (1976)
*Born to Run (1977)
*Force 10 From Navarone (1978)
*The Spaceman and King Arthur (1979)
*Clash of Loyalties (1983)
*Valhalla (1986)

External links

* [ Ron Goodwin's own web site, still maintained by the Ron Goodwin Estate]
* [ Complete discography and film list]
*imdb name|id=0006109|name=Ron Goodwin
* [ Detailed biography at The Robert Farnon Society]

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