Paul Lewis Composer

Film, Television and Concert Composer.

Biography

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PAUL LEWIS was born into a family of professional musicians in Brighton, England, in 1943, and was educated at Brighton College. He learnt the piano from the age of nine, somewhat reluctantly as he was only interested in history and ancient buildings, but when at twelve he saw Laurence Olivier's film of Shakespeare's 'Richard III' with Walton’s music, he immediately realized he had to be a composer. He set about achieving this by avoiding all formal training and leaving school at fifteen to enter music publishing in order to find out how the music business worked from inside, and from the age of nineteen his orchestral pieces were being recorded as production library music, finding their way into the cinema newsreels of the day. At twenty he became Assistant Musical Adviser to ABC Television, one of the 'Big Four' British Independent Television companies and within months he had composed his first score for a major TV drama, since when he has scored over 150 series' and one-offs as well as being the subject of a half-hour ITV documentary in 1995. His TV work ranges from high drama with Orson Welles, Peter O’Toole, Christopher Lee', Dame Sybil Thorndike and Celia Johnson to international award-winning children’s comedy - ('Woof!' and 'Bernard's Watch') - by way of Benny Hill and Monty Python! Many of his early library compositions are still sought after and can be heard in many current popular series, such as 'SpongeBob SquarePants' and 'The Antiques Roadshow'.

In 1997 Lewis was declared one of Britain's 'Legends of Light Music' in Denis Norden's BBC Radio 2 series of that name, and in 2011 his music was featured twice in BBC Radio 2 and 3's "Light Fantastic - the Best of British Light Music" festival.

In addition to his prolific TV output Lewis has produced a catalogue of over a 130 published concert works ranging from concertos, orchestral overtures and string suites to chamber music and compositions for solo instruments, notably for his favourite instrument, the harp. Several harp works, flute pieces, a bassoon and piano work and his 'Concerto Burlesco' for bassoon and small orchestra have been included in the Associated Boards and Trinity Examination syllabuses. He has conducted entire concerts of his own music which included world premieres of newly commissioned works in America, New Zealand, Italy and Turkey, and was the subject of a day-long celebration, 'A Day with Composer Paul Lewis', at the Ecole Nationale de Musique at Mantes-en-Yvelines on the outskirts of Paris.

A selection of his concert works can be found in various CD series' alongside the music of other English composers such as Arnold, Holst and Vaughan Williams, which are broadcast around the world, with regular airings on Classic FM Radio in England and Radio NZ Concert in New Zealand

Lewis has also released a CD of themes and suites from his television scores with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, 'Three Decades of TV Themes', and 'Serenade and Dance', a CD of his harmonica chamber music with soloist James Hughes, both in the Campion Cameo British Composer Series. A CD of the original soundtrack recording of his epic orchestral score for the 1972 HTV series 'Arthur of the Britons' is on Silva Screen, his Maori collaboration 'Legends of Rotorua' is on Atoll Records and 'Heritage and Landscape', a collection of orchestral works recorded mainly in the 1970s and 80s is on EM Records. 'Harpscape', a CD of solo harp works with charismatic international soloist Gabriella Dall'Olio and 'Harpscenes', more solo harp works with three leading harpists are also on EM Records.

Details of all these recordings can be found on the CD RELEASES page.

In April 2017 'Seaside Concerto' for Mighty Wurlitzer and orchestra, a celebration of the kind of vintage seaside music Lewis heard his family playing all along the Sussex coast in his younger days, was premiered to an enthusiastic audience by soloist Richard Hill with the Worthing Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Gibbons, who commissioned the work.

Lewis met his wife, soprano Sharon Elizabeth, in 2007, and from 2008 to 2012 they divided their time between England and New Zealand, working in both countries. In addition to his many composing commitments, Lewis is Sharon Elizabeth’s piano accompanist in everything from operatic excerpts to very naughty cabaret! (forgetmenotcabaret.com.) They have performed at arts festivals in New Zealand and the UK, with regular seasons in the Napier Art Deco Festival, Hamilton Gardens Summer Festival and Brighton Fringe Festival. The soprano part in Lewis’s score for the 2009 BBC TV documentary 'Napoli, City of the Damned' was written for Sharon Elizabeth, as were the vocal parts in the New Zealand commissions 'Legends of Rotorua' (recorded on Atoll Records) and 'Jazz at the Movies' at the 2010 NZ National Jazz Festival. Together they have recorded a CD of popular songs of the 1920s/30s and cabaret songs in vintage style by Lewis from Sharon Elizabeth’s one-woman show 'Forget-Me-Not', and another of banned and risque songs of the 20s/ 30s from her show 'Forget-Me-Not Wears the Trousers'. 

Paul Lewis also enjoys giving his anecdotal 'Memoirs of a Media Composer' talks with recorded extracts from his TV themes. He has informed and entertained music colleges and universities in America, France and New Zealand and is a regular speaker for the Women's Institute and many other societies in England.  

Lewis’s parallel life has been the pursuit and study of mediaeval and renaissance art and architecture in England and France, in the course of which he has discovered many previously  unrecognised works of arts of the period and has painstakingly restored three early houses using traditional methods and materials, culminating in the fourteen-year recreation of an early Tudor courtly interior at the splendid courthouse built by Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, at Martock in Somerset. Paul and Sharon now live in a beautiful Tudor timber-framed house near the sea in Sussex.

The spectacular rediscovery of the remains of Richard III in a Leicester car park in 2012 was a cause of celebration for Lewis, who, since having been inspired to become a composer at the age of twelve by Laurence Olivier's film of Shakespeare's "Richard III", has held a lifelong fascination with the true character of this greatly maligned and misunderstood king. The discovery inspired Lewis's 'Fanfare for King Richard III' for brass and percussion, the premiere of which he conducted in York Guildhall on March 26th 2015 to coincide with the king's reburial in Leicester. This in turn led to a commission for a 23-minute work, 'Threnody for Violin: The Most Famous Prince of Blessed Memory' for a concert in Richard's honour in his own church at Middleham as part of the Yorkshire English Music Festival in September 2015. The fanfare has been recorded by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia (Heritage Records 'British Celebration 2') and 'Threnody' has been recorded by Rupert Mashall-Luck ('Richard III' on EM Records.) Lewis will be seen discoursing on the subject of Richard III's true nature and achievements in a forthcoming DVD of 'Threnody' and other works in the king's honour, filmed at Middleham and in Sussex at Lewis's home.

 

Paul Lewis, composer, mediaevalist and supporter of Richard III.

 

 

 

 

 

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