Born in London, Benjamin Frankel’s musical prowess was first realised as a performer on piano and violin. When, in his late teens, he was studying piano and composition at the Guildhall School of Music, London, he was also playing in night clubs as a jazz violinist. As a writer his first successes came as an orchestrator of West End musical comedies and revues, including Noel Coward’s Operette and various C.B. Cochran shows. Then, in 1934, came his first film score. He went on to become a supreme master in this field, with over a hundred films to his credit in a wide variety of styles, from the Curse of the Werewolf to The Importance of Being Earnest.
Frankel’s recognition as a composer in his own right did not come until he was in his mid-forties, notably with the Violin Concerto of 1951, followed by an increasingly fluent output of chamber and orchestral music, including eight symphonies. Doubtless as a reaction to the immediacy of his film music Frankel’s concert music is deeply felt and took him into new fields idiomatically. As such it calls for dedicated listening. His music for the cinema, on the other hand, is used with such discretion, and so matches the mood and timing of the action as not to be heard consciously, simply enhancing the viewers’ enjoyment without their knowing why.
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