Saturday, 19 January 2013

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012)

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012) is one of two important figures from the Arts world with strong connections to the Budleigh area who passed away last year.

As President of the Budleigh Jazz Festival Sir Richard was well known to many local  residents. He lived at various houses in Budleigh for more than 20 years until the family settled in Boucher Road in 1945.
A photo of the young Richard, right, with his family in the garden of Lace Acre, in Budleigh Salterton's Boucher Road

 His father was a writer and his mother a fine musician and pianist, organising local recitals and madrigal groups in which the teenage Richard and his friends would take part. His childhood was not especially happy according to Anthony Meredith’s much praised magistral biography, and moving to London as a student at the Royal Academy of Music was a refreshing change. However he retained his affection for Budleigh, which, as he said in later life “I still love and won’t have a word said against.”

 As a music student in London

Earning a  living as a composer from the age of 19 he had a dazzling career, writing award-winning screen music, operas, choral works and symphonies  all of which secured for him an international reputation for versatility. Far from the Madding Crowd, Billion Dollar Brain and Four Weddings and a Funeral are just three of the films for which he wrote the soundtrack.   He was knighted for services to music in 1998.

20 January 2013. Comment from Janet Parrish:

I had the pleasure of driving RRB to East Budleigh after a concert (his) for the Budleigh Festival. I think he was staying with some friends over there. He brought with him a very good (and well known jazz singer, Clair Martin...but not to me sadly. I am not into jazz, though her name seemed familiar.) He was very friendly and talked about his time in Budleigh. He pointed out a number of places that were familiar to him in the past, such as the creamery at the bottom of the High Street. (which obviously is still there, he was pleased to learn).

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