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About John Hollingsworth

John Hollingsworth enjoyed a two-decade career that encompassed the concert hall as well as the movie soundstage, and had him associated with such varied figures out of popular culture as Gilbert & Sullivan and Count Dracula. Born in 1916 in Middlesex, England, he received his musical training at the Guildhall School of Music -- whose alumni include George Martin, among numerous others -- and by the early '40s he was serving as an assistant to conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent and as assistant conductor of the Royal Air Force Symphony Orchestra. During his wartime service, Hollingsworth also began his career conducting the scores of motion pictures, initially with documentaries made by the Crown Film Unit and, once the war was over, in feature films; included among his early postwar credits are work as assistant or associate music director on such prominently scored movies as Brief Encounter (which turned Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto into virtually a pop hit) and Laurence Olivier's Hamlet. He also conducted for the Royal Ballet and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and began making occasional recordings of ballet and light classical pieces. In the mid-'50s, Hollingsworth became the music supervisor for Hammer Films, and was responsible for conducting the scores of such hit horror and science fiction movies as The Creeping Unknown and Horror of Dracula. During the last 15 years of his life, he was one of the busiest men in film music in England, and served as a mentor to such young composers as Richard Rodney Bennett -- some 20 years his junior -- who were just coming along at the time. He also found time to make some very popular recordings, including his record of Sir Charles Mackerras' Gilbert & Sullivan pastiche Pineapple Poll for Pye Records in the second half of the 1950s. Hollingsworth's work as the music supervisor on Joseph Losey's These Are the Damned also demonstrated that he was comfortable dealing with the new sounds of rock & roll. He died of pneumonia during the final days of 1963, at age 47. ~ Bruce Eder

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