Christopher Gunning obituary | Songs

Christopher Gunning obituary | Songs

The composer Christopher Gunning, who has died aged 78 of renal most cancers, operated with equivalent assurance in both of those the film and television environment and the classical symphonic tradition. The audio for which he is most broadly identified is that for ITV’s extended-jogging collection Agatha Christie’s Poirot, starring David Suchet, for which he won a Bafta in 1989 and made incidental songs for some 40 of the episodes.

Gunning recalled that he wrote 3 prospect melodies for the ubiquitous signature tune for the producer Brian Eastman to look at the 3rd selection was picked as most effective combining the spirit of the late 1920s and 30s with the somewhat darker side of the Belgian detective’s character. The topic was played by the jazz saxophonist Stan Sulzmann in a lot of variations throughout the sequence.

In the 1970s Gunning experienced uncovered success composing songs for advertising, like the world wide Martini campaign (“the Right One”), for which he received three Clio awards, and Black Magic chocolates. From the 80s to 2014, he composed new music for several successful Tv set productions and movies.

On the tiny monitor, alongside Poirot, these integrated Porterhouse Blue (1987), Middlemarch (1994) – he gained a Bafta for just about every – Dennis Potter’s last dramas Karaoke and Chilly Lazarus (1996) and the gardening-and-murder collection Rosemary and Thyme (2003-06).

He wrote the audio for the options When the Whales Arrived (1989, the filming of which he experienced stumbled across whilst on a spouse and children getaway in the Isles of Scilly), Firelight (1997), and the Édith Piaf biopic La Môme, also known as La Vie en Rose (2008), profitable his fourth Bafta as nicely as a Czech Lion award.

Gunning’s ultimate movie rating was for the controversial Grace of Monaco (2014), following which he concentrated on crafting live performance tunes in the classical custom, his first appreciate as a composer.

He experienced been producing works for are living efficiency due to the fact the 80s, whether or not children’s operas – Rainbow Earth (1983) Aunt Vita (1997) – piano preludes, a string quartet (1997, revised in 2005) and the symphonic portrait Yorkshire Glory (1989), commissioned by Yorkshire Television for an unnarrated documentary (the rating recorded by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra).

His breakthrough live performance get the job done was the 1998 saxophone concerto On Hungerford Bridge, recorded by John Harle to noteworthy crucial acclaim. This was the very first of 10 concertos, which includes performs for piano (2001), clarinet (2009), flute (2010, moreover the single-movement Spirit of the Mountain, 2014), guitar (2011), violin (2012, furthermore a Poirot Fantasy from the very same calendar year) and cello (2013).

His 2009 Oboe Concerto was penned for and recorded by his oboist daughter Verity. Other will work incorporated various orchestral poems – Storm (2002), Evening Voyage (2012), and Birdflight (2016) – influenced by the all-natural globe, issue for which was a continuous throughout his daily life irrespective of whether in tunes or tending his yard.

His most significant lasting contribution to the live performance repertoire, on the other hand, was his sequence of 13 symphonies, the to start with in a one, pastoral-dramatic movement composed in 2001 and No 13 done in 2020. Most have been recorded, by different labels, two of the greatest being the solitary-movement No 10 (2016), in which his large regard for the new music of Sibelius can be felt with no at any time sounding like the Finnish grasp, and No 12 (2018), a exceptional instance of a definitely convincingly structured two-movement symphony.

David Suchet as Hercule Poirot in The Dream, a 1989 episode in the Agatha Christie ITV series.
David Suchet as Hercule Poirot in The Aspiration, a 1989 episode in the Agatha Christie ITV collection. Photograph: ITV

Born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Christopher was the son of Alexis, a South African-born pianist and trainer, and Janet (nee Bennett), who experienced been Alexis’s pupil the relatives later moved to Hendon, north-west London. Expanding up with his older brother and sister in a compact semi-detached house surrounded by new music, Christopher started composing at an early age, even just before he could properly examine audio. He was educated at Hendon County grammar college and went on to study composition, piano and percussion at the Guildhall Faculty of Tunes and Drama, exactly where his tutors integrated Sir Richard Rodney Bennett , Edmund Rubbra and the musicologist Brian Trowell.

Gunning’s broad tactic to composition followed Bennett’s illustration, whose will work integrated three symphonies and a piano concerto, furthermore the massively successful score for Murder on the Orient Categorical he was also a noted jazz pianist. When Gunning was in his 20s, the pair collaborated on the songs for the 1971 film Nicholas and Alexandra.

Gunning held no formal tutorial instructing posts, but was an outspoken winner for composers’ legal rights within just the PRS. In addition to his Baftas, he gained 3 Ivor Novello awards, for Less than Suspicion (1991), the Tv mini-series Rebecca (1997) and Firelight.

In 1974, he married Annie Farrow, then controlling director of the Air-Edel music company, with whom he experienced 4 daughters, Olivia, Pollyanna (a recorder participant who appeared in recordings of her father’s new music), Verity and Chloë. The marriage was dissolved in 1999. In 2004, Gunning married Svitlana Saienko.

He is survived by Svitlana, his 4 youngsters and five grandchildren.

Christopher Gunning, composer, arranger and conductor, born 5 August 1944 died 25 March 2023