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RCA Symphony Orchestra & Harry Rabinowitz

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Biography

b. 26 March 1916, Johannesburg, South Africa. Trained as a classical pianist, Rabinowitz was educated at Athlone High School and Witwatersrand University and made his first radio broadcast in 1933. After service with the South African Army, he studied composition and conducting, and moved to London in 1946 to continue his studies at the Guildhall School of Music. He played the piano on several popular BBC radio programmes, including Variety Bandbox, and spent some time as house pianist at EMI Records. His first conducting jobs were with the show Golden City (1950), followed by four ice spectaculars at London’s Empress Hall, and as musical director for Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s 1953 hit, Paint Your Wagon. In the same year he joined the BBC staff and was conductor of the BBC Revue Orchestra until 1960, working on programmes such as Take It From Here, Henry Hall’s Guest Night, Variety Playhouse and Just Fancy. He also featured as a pianist on Piano Playtime, Rendezvous and Midday Music Hall. In 1960, he moved to BBC Television as Head Of Music for Light Entertainment, and was responsible for programmes such as the Val Doonican Show, Michael Bentine Show, Billy Cotton Band Show and Not Only But Also, featuring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Rabinowitz moved to the rival London Weekend Television as Head of Music in 1968, and during the next nine years his projects included Black Beauty, Upstairs, Downstairs and several David Frost programmes. He also composed many themes to successful television programmes such The Agatha Christie Hour and Love For Lydia, which was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award in 1977. In the same year he won the Television And Radio Industries Council Celebrity Award for Best Television Theme Music Of The Year for his music to Reilly, Ace Of Spies. Since returning to freelance work in 1977, Rabinowitz has been musical director for many feature films, such as The Greek Tycoon (1978), Mon Oncle D’Amerique (1980), Chariots Of Fire (1981), Time Bandits (1981), Heat And Dust (1982), Maurice (1987), Queen Of Hearts (1989), Music Box (1989), Lord Of The Flies (1990) and The Ballad Of The Sad Cafe (1990). In the early 80s, he conducted the first six weeks of the London runs of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats and Song And Dance, and travelled to the USA to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. In the UK, he frequently conducts the Royal Philharmonic, the London Symphony, and the London Concert Orchestras at venues such as London’s Barbican Centre and the Royal Festival Hall. In 1977, he was awarded an MBE for services to music.