How good a musician was the Beatles’ producer?

How good a musician was the Beatles’ producer?


norman lebrecht

October 27, 2017

The Lebrecht Album of the Week has the first review of a premier album of orchestral and film music by George Martin, the Beatles’ man behind the glass wall.

How good a musician was the Beatles’ producer? I talked to George Martin three or four times and, while I found him very likeable, was unimpressed by his musical curiosity. Like many other producers I knew at Abbey Road, he was a purposeful fixer who knew what needed to be done to make a track work and which of London’s hundreds of freelancers he had to call in to patch up a session that, somehow, lacked the finishing touch. String quartet for ‘Yesterday’, piccolo trumpet for ‘Penny Lane’, George Martin knew who to call and how to integrate them. He had a quirky turn of mind, rather than an original concept.

This first album of his orchestral music and film scores, elegantly played by Craig Leon’s Berlin’s Music Ensemble, gives us an opportunity to see what might have been going on behind George’s determinedly bland musical façade…

Read on here.

And here.

And here.



  • Nick says:

    I did not know George Martin but I believe you do him a discredit. The Beatles became huge very quickly and it must have taken a lot of guts and knowledge of their personalities to persuade them to use classical instrumentation in a number of what became mega hits. Who else would have come up with the idea of a piccolo trumpet – or a string quartet? Few if any, I suggest. And when they did engage another producer, Phil Specter added his “wall of sound” that sounds gross in comparison.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    I’m going to guess that he didn’t “do more” original work because there was more to do in his work as a producer for other musicians. You go where the work is and they needed him.

    However, the piccolo trumpet was a suggestion from McCartney. He had first heard one used in a Bach performance and liked the sound.

  • Sue says:


  • NN says:

    Very interesting review! Will buy the album. Re. the last sentence (“My copy of this recording does not credit the producer.”): The Album was produced by Craig Leon and co-produced by Matthias Spindler. More credits are here: