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Geoffrey Burgon

Geoffrey Alan Burgon (15 July 1941 – 21 September 2010) was a British composer best known for his television and film scores.

Burgon was born in Hambledon, Hampshire in 1941, and taught himself the trumpet in order to join a jazz band at school (Pewley Grammar School, Guildford). He entered the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with the intention of becoming a professional trumpet player. However, under the direction of his mentor, composer Peter Wishart, he found that he was more interested in composition. Burgon initially supported himself and his family as a freelance jazz trumpeter. At the age of 30 he sold his instruments, except one, and devoted himself to composition. He lived through a lengthy period of poverty before critical success eventually brought financial reward.

The critical success of his Requiem at the Three Choirs Festival in 1976 sealed his reputation as a composer and led to many commissions from major organisations. Continuing the tradition established by Benjamin Britten, Burgon’s fluent and effortless language was particularly well suited to the voice and he had a long-standing collaboration with counter-tenor James Bowman. Burgon also had considerable success writing for film and television and twice received both BAFTA and Ivor Novello Awards. His style was essentially conservative, influenced by Benjamin Britten and medieval music rather than modern styles. His music was therefore not favoured by music critics and was sometimes labelled as commercial, but nevertheless it was widely appreciated. Burgon saw his work in film and television as subsidising his passion for, and ability to devote time to what he called his "serious work" for concert.

He married Janice Elizabeth Garwood in 1963 and had a son, Matthew and a daughter, Hannah. They were separated in 1970 and the marriage was dissolved in 1975. In 1992 he married Jacqueline Kroft, a Canadian pianist and singer/songwriter; they had a son, Daniel.

He was a keen cricketer and wrote detective novels in his spare time. Burgon died on 21 September 2010 after a short illness.

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