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Howard Goodall at St. John the Baptist Church in Devon, United Kingdom, May 2009

Howard Lindsay Goodall (born 26 May 1958) is a British composer of musicals, choral music and music for television. He also presents music-based programming for television and radio, for which he has won many awards.

Born in Bromley, Kent and educated at New College School, Oxford, Stowe School and Lord Williams's School Thame. He read music at Christ Church, Oxford.[1] He is married to Val Fancourt, who is a classical music agent.[1] In May 2008 he was named as a presenter and Composer-in-Residence with the UK radio channel Classic FM,[2] and in May 2009 he was named "Composer of the Year" at the Classical BRIT Awards. [3]



Musical theatre

His output of musical theatre works includes The Hired Man (1984), an adaptation of the novel by Melvyn Bragg, which won an Ivor Novello award (1985) and TMA Award(2006) award for Best Musical, Girlfriends (1986), Days of Hope (1991), Silas Marner (1993), The Kissing-Dance (1999), The Dreaming (2001) (both with Charles Hart), A Winter's Tale (2005) and Two Cities (2006). Goodall worked on original music for a new production called 'King Cotton', a co-commissioned stage show by The Lowry and the Liverpool Culture Company. However, he amicably withdrew from the production weeks before the opening for reasons unknown, and "any offers for Goodall's unused music will be gratefully received", according to the 16 September, 2007 Sunday Times (page 14). A Winter’s Tale will be presented during 2009-10 by Youth Music Theatre: UK, while The Hired Man will be performed by the National Youth Music Theatre also in 2009. 2010 will see the UK tour and West End premiere of Love Story, based on the novella by Erich Segal


As far as TV is concerned, incidental music - of several popular UK comedy programs include: Red Dwarf, Blackadder, Mr Bean, The Thin Blue Line, The Vicar of Dibley, The Catherine Tate Show, 2point4 Children and QI, on which he has also appeared twice as a panellist. It was as an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford that he met the actor Rowan Atkinson and the writer Richard Curtis, his collaborators on several of these projects, including his first break into TV, Not The Nine O'Clock News.

Choral works

Goodall has a body of choral music to his name (the process of composing one of these works is noted in the book of his Big Bangs series), including "In Memoriam Anne Frank" (2001), "O Lord God of Time and Eternity" (2003) and settings of Psalm 23 (better known as the theme tune to The Vicar of Dibley) and "Love Divine". In September 2008, his Eternal Light: A Requiem was premiered by Rambert Dance Company to choreography by Rambert Dance Company’s Artistic Director: Mark Baldwin). The result of a commission from London Musici (Artistic Director: Mark Stephenson) to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Eternal Light: A Requiem was commissioned as both a choral-orchestral-dance piece and a choral orchestral work. The London premiere took place on 11 November 2008 at Sadler's Wells with Rambert Dance Company, London Musici, The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Finchley Children's Music Group and soloists, conducted by Paul Hoskins. Also in September 2008, EMI Classics released the premiere recording of Eternal Light: A Requiem, with soloists Natasha Marsh, Alfie Boe and Christopher Maltman joining London Musici, The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and conducted by Stephen Darlington.

In March 2009, Classic FM released Howard Goodall’s Enchanted Voices, a modern exploration of ancient chant, scored for upper voices, cello, organ, handbells and synthesizer. The disc marks Goodall’s position as Classic FM’s Composer-in-Residence for 2009. A month after its UK release, it became the best-selling specialist choral CD of 2009 there.


As well as presenting the BBC's Choir of the Year, Young Musician of the Year, among many programmes, he has presented six award-winning series of television programmes on musical theory & history, filmed by Tiger Aspect and broadcast on Channel 4:

  • Howard Goodall's Organworks (1996) — history of the organ
  • Howard Goodall's Choirworks (1998) — history of choral music
  • Howard Goodall's Big Bangs (2000) — pivotal events in the history of music (also a book, published by Vintage in 2001, ISBN 0-09-928354-9)
  • Howard Goodall's Great Dates (2002) — important dates in the history of music
  • Howard Goodall's 20th Century Greats (2004) — exploring the divergence between classical and popular music in the 20th century
  • Howard Goodall's How Music Works (2006) — analysing the fundamental components of music itself.[4]

Goodall received a Royal Television Society award for Organworks and the 2000 BAFTA Huw Wheldon award for Big Bangs, which also won several international prizes.

On Christmas Day December 2008, Goodall presented The Truth About Christmas Carols on BBC 2 TV, a documentary examining the surprising, and often secret, history of the traditional Christmas carol and on Good Friday April 2009 Hallelujah! The Story of Handel’s Messiah.


Awards and honours include honorary Doctorates of Music from Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln, and the University of Bolton, a British Academy of Composers & Songwriters Gold Badge Award for exceptional work in support of his fellow British composers and a 2007 Making Music/Sir Charles Groves Prize for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. In 2007 he was appointed by the UK Government as England’s first ever National Ambassador for Singing, leading a 4-year programme (Sing Up) to improve the provision of group singing for all primary-age children.[5]

In April 2009, Goodall was nominated for The Classical BRITs “Composer of the Year” award for Eternal Light: A Requiem, which he won in May 2009,[6] and in July 2009 he was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category “Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special (Dramatic Score)” for his work on the Winston Churchill biopic Into the Storm;[7] which he then went on to win on the 12th September at a ceremony in Los Angeles [8]


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