Monday, January 19, 2009

ANGELA MORLEY (1924-2009)

My heartfelt condolences to the family of Angela Morley. A lovely lady and a wonderful composer.

Morley was born in Leeds, Yorkshire on 10 March 1924. Her birth name was Walter (Wally) Stott. She attributes her entry into successful composing and arranging largely to the influence and encouragement of the Canadian light music composer Robert Farnon.

Morley was originally a composer of light music, with the jaunty Rotten Row her best known piece. Also notable is A Canadian in Mayfair, a homage to Robert Farnon's Portrait of a Flirt.

In 1953, she began a long association with the Philips record label, arranging for and accompanying the company's artists, as well as releasing records under her own name, including the 1958 LP 'London Pride'.

She is also remembered for writing the theme tune and incidental music for Hancock's Half Hour and was the musical director for The Goon Show from the third series in 1952 to the last show in 1960. Another very short, but fondly remembered, theme was the 12-notes-long "Ident Zoom-2", written for Lew Grade's Associated TeleVision (ATV) and in use from the introduction of colour television in 1969 until the demise of ATV in 1981.

In the 1960s she worked with Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield and the first three highly regarded solo albums by Scott Walker. In 1962 and 1963, she arranged the United Kingdom entries for the Eurovision Song Contest, Ring-A-Ding Girl and Say Wonderful Things, both sung by Ronnie Carroll. The former was conducted on the Eurovision stage in Luxembourg by her as well.

In 1969, she scored 'The Looking Glass War' (from a John Le Carré spy novel featuring a very young Anthony Hopkins), 'When Eight Bells Toll' (another Anthony Hopkins movie) and 'Captain Nemo and the Underwater City'.

Morley orchestrated, arranged, and supervised the music for the final musical film collaboration of Lerner and Loewe, The Little Prince (1974). In 1976 she was music supervisor, arranger, and conductor for the Sherman Brothers' musical adaptation of the Cinderella story, The Slipper and the Rose. She won Oscar nominations for both films. Additionally, she wrote most of the score for the 1978 film version of Watership Down, although the prelude and opening was by Malcolm Williamson. From about this point she began a collaboration with John Williams, the composer for Star Wars and other films, though working in an uncredited capacity.

During the 1980s she wrote numerous arrangements for the Boston Pops and scored many episodes of TV shows, including Dynasty, Dallas, Falcon Crest, and Hotel.


Buster said...

Sad news - A wonderful composer and arranger. I greatly admired her and always am on the lookout for her records.

tony said...

Thank you Buster for your comment.
I shall post something in her honor this week.

Anonymous said...

I was listening to Richard Rodney Bennett's Music for Lady Caroline Lamb a few months ago and was curious the similarity of a certain passage to John Williams' Raider's fanfare. It's interesting to think of her influence upon both Bennett and Williams as she worked with both...