Robert Docker was widely regarded as one of the finest musicians in the field of popular light music. He was certainly one of its primary champions as a performer both in Britain and later in Australia. His compositions, including those featured on this recording, have become standards in the light music genre, but perhaps it is for his arrangements that he was best known and loved by audiences and broadcast producers alike. He wrote works of considerable stature for piano and orchestra and for the combined forces of orchestra with solo singers and chorus, selections from the greatest hits shows from stage and screen. He also wrote and orchestrated music for cinema, including part of the score for the film Chariots of Fire.
Robert Docker was born in London on 5 June, 1918, the son of a gas worker. He was educated first at North Paddington Central School, during which time he also received some private musical tuition. He arrived with a London County Council Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied viola, piano and composition. He also learned to play the organ, the harpsichord and the violin, but it was his particular skill at the piano keyboard that largely determined the successful career that was to lie ahead of him. His first arrangement was broadcast in 1936 and his début on air came some ten years later.
Docker worked with many famous names, both as an arranger and as an accompanist. Amongst the many popular artists for whom he made arrangements were the Scottish soprano Moira Anderson, Cynthia Glover and the American diva, Lorna Dallas. He also had fond memories of accompanying José Carreras in one of the songs at the tenors first popular concert appearance at the Royal Albert Hall in 1985.
A large number of Docker's appearances during the last twenty years of his life were for the BBC, principally for BBC Radio 2 and with the BBC Concert Orchestra in the long running series Friday Night Is Music Night, where for many years he worked with and orchestrated for the late and irreplaceable Sidney Torch. In addition to these broadcasts were his many appearances as soloist and as orchestral pianist with the London Studio Players, on Radio 2 and in other areas of BBC programming, where the best of British light music was often heard.
Role: Non-Classical Artist