Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, in the enormous diversity of his activities, is arguably the most complete musician of all time. Not only does he have a remarkable 300 commissioned concert works to his credit, which have established him among the leading British twentieth-century composers, yet at the same time, with supreme success, he has also contrived to lead several completely different musical lives.
For some, he is the ultimate exponent of 'crossover', as epitomised in his remarkable Concerto for Stan Getz and concert works for Cleo Laine. Others remember him as a concert pianist with a special enthusiasm for pioneering contemporary music, his partnerships with Susan Bradshaw, Jane Manning and Barry Tuckwell being particularly notable. Meanwhile, he also has over 70 film and television scores to his credit, the many classic titles ranging from Murder on the Orient Express and Far From the Madding Crowd to Equus and Four Weddings and a Funeral.
For cabaret and jazz club devotees, he is, again, something completely different: one of the finest and most knowledgeable of all exponents of the Great American Songbook, a much-in-demand singer and accompanist over the past thirty-five years, and, as such, the stage partner of some of the most glamorous performers in the business. This, then, is a book about a uniquely gifted musician. It is also a study of a most engaging personality and a fascinatingly complex human being.
Anthony Meredith, whose two previous collaborations with co-researcher Paul Harris were the highly praised biographies of Malcolm Arnold and Malcolm Williamson, has been a widely published writer over the past twenty-five years. He is a member of MCC, a Friend of Covent Garden and Northern Ballet. His co-researcher, Paul Harris, is a leading music educationalist, well-known for his seminars, workshops and masterclasses, with over 500 books to his name.