Ron Goodwin may not have an easily recognizable name today, but his music is known to many. Goodwin began his career as a trumpeter, and then served as a music copyist, arranger, and finally conductor for radio shows in the 1950s. He worked with Peter Sellers on Parlophone recordings that contained segments from the comic actor's popular radio program The Goon Show. Goodwin formed his own orchestra and used it for recordings, as well as for accompanying singers, like Petula Clark, and presenting concert fare to the public. But Goodwin gained international notice when he began composing film scores for some of the best-known movies of the 1960s and '70s. Among them are Village of the Damned (1960), 633 Squadron (1963), Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines (1965), Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972), and Force 10 from Navarone (1978). In all, he wrote over 60 film scores and also managed to compose a significant body of orchestral concert music, including the 1957 Skiffling Strings (Swinging Sweethearts), Drake 400 Suite, and New Zealand, from 1980 and 1983, respectively. Recordings of several of Goodwin's film scores are still popular, and the finely crafted pair, Drake 400 and New Zealand, stand a chance of gaining a foothold in the repertory.
Ron Goodwin was born in Plymouth, England, on February 17, 1925. He took piano lessons from the age of five and later took up the trumpet. He studied trumpet, orchestration, and composition at the Guildhall School of Music in London, but much of his musicality was self-taught. After working as a copyist and arranger for several music publishing companies in England, Goodwin began conducting, eventually forming his own orchestra. His collaborations on the Peter Sellers' recordings garnered him notice and he began composing scores for documentary films. His first feature-length effort was for the 1958 film Whirlpool. After Village of the Damned, he produced the score for the 1962 science fiction classic Day of the Triffids.
There followed a string of mostly memorable scores, among them Lancelot and Guinevere (1963), Of Human Bondage (1964), Operation Crossbow (1965), Where Eagles Dare (1969), and The Selfish Giant (1971). In the 1980s Goodwin devoted less time to film scores and turned to writing more serious works, like the aforementioned Drake 400 and New Zealand. Goodwin, despite being plagued by asthma throughout life, remained active to the end, dying suddenly on January 8, 2003.