Tributes paid to composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, shown here in the 1960s, was nominated for an Oscar three times

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Tributes from the music and film worlds have been paid to composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett who died aged 76 on Christmas Eve.

He produced more than 200 concert pieces, ballets and operas but was best known for film and TV scores, including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Murder on the Orient Express and Doctor Who.

Sir Richard won a Bafta and was three times nominated for an Oscar.

David Arnold, the Bond films composer, hailed him as "one of our greats".

"Sad news about Richard Rodney Bennett," he said on Twitter.

Sir Nicholas Kenyon, managing director of London's Barbican arts centre, said Sir Richard was "one of the most rounded musicians of our time".

BBC Radio 3 breakfast show presenter Petroc Trelawny said Sir Richard was a man who shone in the concert hall and cabaret stage.

He tweeted: "So sad to hear of Sir Richard Rodney Bennett's death."

Jazz singer Ann Hampton Callaway wrote on Facebook: "Saddened by the loss of brilliant composer, arranger, pianist and friend, Richard Rodney Bennett.

"He was one of the first friends of the music world to welcome me to New York, teach me great songs, accompany and arrange for me and record with me. He had superb taste, great talent and a wicked sense of humour."

Sir Richard, who was born in Broadstairs, Kent, began composing at the age of six and co-wrote his first work for the Sadlers Wells Opera Company in 1961. He was also a jazz singer and pianist.

Sir Richard's Oscar nominations were for Far From The Madding Crowd in 1968, Nicholas and Alexanda in 1972 and Murder on the Orient Express in 1975.

He often said that he believed the best film music he composed was for the latter movie, specifically the scene in which the train is first seen, leaving the station at Istanbul. He was awarded a Bafta for his work on the movie.

Aged 17, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music and had several of his compositions performed professionally while he was still a student.

He also supported his studies as a jazz musician and later began to work regularly with Cleo Laine.

But it was his work as a film score composer that brought him international recognition.

His other film credits included Billy Liar, The Nanny, Equus, Yanks and Enchanted April

In 2004, Sir Richard composed Reflections on a Scottish Folk Song, commissioned by the Prince of Wales to honour the memory of the Queen Mother.

He was knighted in 1998 for services to music.

Chris Butler, head of publishing for Sir Richard's publisher, Music Sales Group, said: "Richard was the most complete musician of his generation - lavishly gifted as a composer, performer and entertainer in a multiplicity of styles and genres.

"He was a loyal friend to music, musicians and music publishing and we will remember him with great respect and affection."

Sir Richard died peacefully on Christmas Eve in New York, where he had lived for more than 20 years.

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