Christopher Palmer, British orchestrator and authority on Golden Age film music and classic 20th century British composers, died in Bart’s Hospital, London, Jan. 22 of complications from AIDS. He was 48.
Palmer was one of a small group of enthusiasts, including Charles Gerhardt and George Korngold, who were responsible during the ’70s for reviving interest in classic Hollywood film music in new recordings, mostly done in London for labels like RCA and Decca.
The son of a church organist, he initially studied modern languages at Trinity Hall College, Cambridge U., later switching to music.
Palmer was closely identified with the music of Miklos Rozsa, a large number of whose classic film scores he disinterred in cooperation with the composer. During their latter years, he was also a close confidante and champion of Bernard Herrmann and Dimitri Tiomkin.
As an orchestrator, he worked for Elmer Bernstein, Carl Davis and Maurice Jarre (“A Passage to India”), among others.
Palmer wrote two studies of Rozsa’s works, as well as a book on Golden Age Hollywood composers. He was also a copious writer of record liner notes.
His nonfilm writings included “Impressionism in Music” (1973), “Delius: Portrait of a Cosmopolitan,” a study of Herbert Howells, and editorship of “The Britten Companion” anthology.
In recent years, he devoted more time to recordings of works by classic British composers like William Walton, William Alwyn, and Malcolm Arnold. He also supervised an album devoted to one of his personal heroes, Hollywood master orchestrator Conrad Salinger.
Just before his death, he received a life achievement award from the U.S.-based Society for the Preservation of Film Music.
No survivors. p>