Death of a major theatre composer

For 37 years, Guy Woolfenden was director of music for the Royal Shakespeare Company, composing 150 scores of intermezzi and incidental music. His music was indispensable to Peter Hall’s series, The Wars of the Roses.

Guy has died, aged 79.

As a boy, he sang at the Queen’s wedding to Prince Philip. He played horn in the Sadlers Wells orchestra and conducted here and there, including three productions at Scottish Opera, one of which was the UK premiere of Nielsen’s Saul and David.

In 1995, he founded the English Music Festival.

guy woolfenden

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  • Guy’s lasting legacy to the world of music was 15 brilliantly scored sensitive works for wind orchestra, many, like Gallimaufry and Illyrian Dances, based on his incidental music for Stratford-on-Avon. These are played regularly throughout the world.

  • Gret composer of whom I have programmed many times. We reworked many of his theatre pieces for the wind band. Always a joy to play and conduct.

  • For Scottish Opera, Guy Woolfenden conducted Fiddler on the Roof (1979 and 1980), The Two Widows (1980) and The Beggar’s Opera (1981).

  • Conducted Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra for years. Great contribution to promoting music making for all – amateur and professional.

  • His excellent Horn Dances feature regularly in exam syllabuses. (But I don’t think he founded the English Music Festival..?)

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