Born Isaac Cozerbreit 8 May 1893 in London, died 7 September 1978, Findon Valley, Worthing, Charles Williams was one of Britain’s most prolific composers of light music, and was also responsible for numerous film scores. During his early career as a violinist he led for Sir Landon Ronald, Sir Thomas Beecham and Sir Edward Elgar. Like many of his contemporaries, he accompanied silent films, and became conductor of the New Gallery Cinema in London’s Regent Street. He worked on the first British all-sound film, Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail, from which followed many commissions as composer or conductor: The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935), Kipps (1941), The Night Has Eyes (1942), The Young Mr Pitt (1942), The Way To The Stars (1945; assisting Nicholas Brodszky, who is reported to have written only four notes of the main theme, leaving the rest to Williams), The Noose (1946), While I Live (1947) from which came his famous “Dream of Olwen“, and the American movie The Apartment (1960) which used Williams’s “Jealous Lover” originally heard in the British film The Romantic Age) as the title theme, reaching #1 in the US charts.

London publishers Chappell established their recorded music library in 1942, using Williams as composer and conductor of the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra. These 78s made exclusively for radio, television, newsreel and film use, contain many pieces that were to become familiar as themes, such as “The Devil’s Galop” (signature tune of Dick Barton, Special Agent and here conducted in 2005 by my beloved John Wilson), “Girls In Grey” (BBC Television Newsreel), “High Adventure” (Friday Night Is Music Night) and “Majestic Fanfare” (Australian Television News). In his conducting capacity at Chappells he made the first recordings of works by several composers who were later to achieve fame in their own right, such as Robert Farnon, Sidney Torch, Clive Richardson and Peter Yorke.

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