"Hello, Mr. Addinsell?"

The Composer's Datebook from American Public Media
Monday, January 13, 2020

Today’s date in 1904 marks the birthday of Richard Addinsell, a versatile British musician who became one of the most famous film score composers of his generation.

Addinsell was born in London, studied music at the Royal College of Music, and pursued additional studies in Berlin and Vienna before heading off to America in 1933 for some practical education at Hollywood film studios. He put both his theoretical and practical learning to good use when he returned to England, where he began composing for a series of successful British movies, like the Oscar-winning 1939 film “Goodbye, Mr. Chips.”

Addinsell also became a popular songwriter and accompanist for British comediennes and cabaret singers of the day.

But Addinsell is best known as the composer of the “Warsaw Concerto,” a piano concerto consciously modeled on the big Romantic scores of Rachmaninoff. This music originally appeared in the 1941 British adventure film “Dangerous Moonlight,” retitled “Suicide Squadron” when it was released in the States in 1942.

After that mega-hit, Addinsell’s fluent and versatile writing continued to grace a goodly number of Post-War British films and TV dramatizations, ranging from historical epics to psychological thrillers, gritty “slice-of-life” dramas, and whimsical, light-hearted comedies.

Addinsell died in London at the age of 73 in 1977.