sat 20/07/2024

Geoffrey Burgon revisited, 1941-2010 | reviews, news & interviews

Geoffrey Burgon revisited, 1941-2010

Geoffrey Burgon revisited, 1941-2010

RIP the composer of the Brideshead theme

Geoffrey Burgon: tinker, tailor, soldier, composer

To most the music will be more familiar than the name. Geoffrey Burgon, who has died, devoted only a minor portion of his career to composing for television.

He also wrote for piano, for trumpet (which he studied at Guildhall School of Music and Drama), for guitar quartet and all manner of chamber group. In 1991 he composed an operatic version of Dickens's Hard Times. Above all he composed for choirs - most notably his Requiem for the Three Choirs Festival in 1976.

From the sublime he was quite happy to accept commissions with a more ridiculous flavour, among them Monty Python's The Meaning of Life and Doctor Who in the mid-1970s during the Time Lord's classic incarnation as Tom Baker. Here is a brief musical clip from Terror of the Zygons (1975).

But the music he has left imprinted indelibly on the minds of millions occurs in two great television dramas from the golden age, made either side of 1980. In 1979 he won the Ivor Novello Award for his Nunc Dimitis, which played over the closing credits of the BBC's adaptation of John Le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Two years later he won the same award again for the theme tune which to this day is associated with the lush production values of Granada in its overspending heyday: Brideshead Revisited.

When he was invited to compose the theme tune for The Forsyte Saga, it was evident that his gift for enshrining in the alloted two minutes the romantic populist sweep of the preceding drama was undimmed.

  • More about Geoffrey Burgon's career on his website
  • Find the work of Geoffrey Burgon on Amazon

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You might also want to put up a post of his extraordinary work on the classic 'A Ghost Story for Christmas' episode - 'the Treasure of Abbot Thomas' that led to his recruitment by Doug Camfield for two classic Dr Who.

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