You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Composer Richard Rodney Bennett dies

Oscar nominee scored 'Far From the Madding Crowd,' 'Orient Express'

Richard Rodney Bennett, Oscar-nominated English composer of “Far From the Madding Crowd,” “Nicholas and Alexandra” and “Murder on the Orient Express,” died Monday, Dec. 24, at his home in New York City. He was 76.

Bennett’s other films included “Secret Ceremony,” “Billion Dollar Brain,” “Equus,” “Yanks,” “The Return of the Soldier,” “Enchanted April” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” His television scores included “Sherlock Holmes in New York,” “Murder With Mirrors” and the miniseries “Tender Is the Night” and “Gormenghast.”

But his career encompassed much more than films and TV. He was well known as one of Great Britain’s finest classical composers, writing three symphonies, concertos for numerous instruments and a large number of chamber works; and he was familiar on both the London and New York cabaret scenes as a performer of jazz works and popular songs.

He was born in 1936 in Kent; his mother was a pianist and composer who had studied with Gustav Holst, and his father was an author of children’s books. He began writing music at an early age (including a string quartet at 15), studied informally with composer Elisabeth Lutyens, attended the Royal Academy of Music and, in the late 1950s, studied privately with composer Pierre Boulez in Paris.

Between 1957 and 1996, he scored an estimated three dozen films, including four for director Joseph Losey (including “Secret Ceremony” in 1968 and an unused score for “The Go-Between” in 1970), four with John Schlesinger (including “Billy Liar,” 1963; “Far From the Madding Crowd,” 1967; “Yanks,” 1969; and the made-for-TV “Tale of Sweeney Todd” in 1997), and two for Sidney Lumet (“Murder on the Orient Express” in 1974 and “Equus” in 1977).

“Far From the Madding Crowd” earned him the first of his three Academy Award nominations, although his music for the all-star Agatha Christie mystery “Murder on the Orient Express” was probably his best-known score. He earned an Emmy nomination for another Christie adaptation, the Miss Marple mystery “Murder With Mirrors” (1985).

In recent years, he had concentrated more on writing and recording concert music. His opera “The Mines of Sulphur” was recorded in 2005. He moved to New York City in 1979 and he was knighted in 1998.

No survivors have been named; funeral plans were not immediately known.

More Film

  • '2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live

    Film Review: ‘2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action’

    The Academy skewed dark in its choice of live-action shorts this year, selecting four films to slit your wrists by — each one featuring child endangerment in a different form — and a fifth, about a diabetic on her death bed, that finds a glimmer of uplift at the other end of life. If that [...]

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Yorgos Lanthimos

    Film News Roundup: 'The Favourite' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Boards Crime Drama

    In today’s film news roundup, Yorgos Lanthimos has set up a crime drama, “Here Lies Daniel Tate” is being adapted, and Donna Langley becomes a member of the USC film school board. DIRECTOR HIRED “The Favourite” producer-director Yorgos Lanthimos has signed on to write and direct crime drama “Pop. 1280,” an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business

    Hollywood Agents Blast Writers Guild Over New Proposals

    The war between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents has escalated as the two sides battle over the rules on how writers are represented. The latest volley emerged Friday from Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agents, who accused WGA leaders of misleading its members and asserted that the guild [...]

  • Xavier Legrand Custody

    Cesar Awards: Xavier Legrand’s ‘Custody’ Wins Best Film

    Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody,” a tense portrait of a family torn by domestic violence, won best film, actress (for Lea Drucker), and original screenplay at the 44th Cesar Awards, which took place at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The awards are France’s highest film honors. “Custody,” which marks Legrand’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content