By ARNOLD PICKMERE and AGENCIES
* Composer. Died aged 77.
Film composer Ron Goodwin was best known for composing the themes to a string of 1960s war films, among them Battle of Britain, Where Eagles Dare and Operation Crossbow.
But they formed only a handful of the 60 scores he composed in a career that spanned five decades.
His first film was Whirlpool, in 1958, and he went on to write the music for such popular movies as Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, Monte Carlo or Bust, Force 10 From Navarone and Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy.
Goodwin, born in Plymouth, England, worked with stars including Jimmy Young and Petula Clark early in their recording careers and was musical director for the Peter Sellers albums.
As Ron Goodwin and his Concert Orchestra, he was signed by Beatles producer George Martin and in 1975 received a gold disc to mark one million album sales.
That was the same year he visited New Zealand, the second of many occasions, to conduct a summer pops season with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. These popular events usually featured around 20 items, many of them Goodwin compositions. They were seen up and down the country, usually to full houses.
Typically, the 1981 tour (his fourth) played at 17 centres from Whangarei to Invercargill.
"I come here because I have a marvellous time ... New Zealand is my favourite country, after England," he said that year.
In 1984 he played a six-movement New Zealand suite which was commissioned by the NZSO.
It displayed, he said, his various impressions, as an outsider, of places he had visited in the country.
These included his Earnslaw Steam Theme, based on the rhythm of the ship's steam engine, which he wrote after a trip to Lake Wakatipu.
Other movements included The A and P Show, Picnic at Rotorua and, naturally, Po Atarau (Now is the Hour).
Goodwin had some endearing qualities. In 1987 when he was in Perth he heard of the earthquake that had hit the Bay of Plenty. He had played with the NZSO in Whakatane only a fortnight before.
He rang the orchestra to ask if there was any way he could help to raise relief funds before he returned to Los Angeles.
Fortunately both the orchestra and the Auckland Town Hall were free that night. So Goodwin arrived in Auckland, checked in his luggage after lunch for the 9pm flight to Los Angeles and, smiling and relaxed, hit the stage at 5.30pm.
The orchestra donated its services and the concert raised about $30,000.
The Herald's music critic, L.C.M. Saunders, summed up Goodwin in 1978:
"Under a veneer of light-hearted wit lies an immense musical talent which happens to find its best expression in orchestral arrangement and in the composition of incidental, romantic or descriptive music."
And in 1984 he noted: " ... for one month in the year the NZSO turns from its proper musical sphere [classical] to cater for lighter tastes.
"In doing so it fills a need and wins new friends."
Goodwin's talents were officially recognised in 1994 when George Martin presented him with an Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement in Music.
For the past 30 years, Goodwin had toured the world as a conductor, performing a mixture of classic works and popular hits. Last month he presented his annual series of Christmas shows with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
The late distinguished English musician Sir Thomas Beecham was once reported as saying that it was quite untrue that English people did not appreciate music.
"They may not understand it, but they love the noise it makes," he said. Many around the world loved Goodwin's popular musical formula.
Goodwin is survived by his second wife, Heather, and one son, Christopher.
By ARNOLD PICKMERE and AGENCIES