Brian Easdale

1909 - 1995



Brian Easdale was born in Manchester on 10th August 1909 and educated at Westminster Abbey Choir School and then The Royal College of Music, where he studied with Gordon Jacob and Armstrong Gibbs and won the Foli Scholarship for Composition.

The early part of his professional life features a number of large scale orchestral works written before the age of 30, besides his first opera Rapunzel written when only 17. The Second World War intervened during which Easdale served firstly with the Royal Artillery and then with the Public Relations Film Unit, India.

It was only in the 1950’s that Easdale came back to writing for the concert hall or opera house. The chamber opera The Sleeping Children attracted attention at its premiere in Cheltenham in 1951 and there followed a large amount of chamber music, orchestral scores and vocal/choral music including the lyric drama Seelkie (1954) and his commission for consecration of Coventry Cathedral in 1962, Missa Coventriensis.

However, Easdale is perhaps best known for his several films scores from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. It was his experience writing Government training films in India that led to his first major commission, Black Narcissus in 1946. This was produced by the eminent writing/directorial/production team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, for whose Archers Film Unit Easdale was Musical Director between 1946 and 1949. The Red Shoes was the most famous fruit of that relationship. His score for the young Moira Shearer – a 17-minute fantasy ballet sequence - remains justly famous and earned Easdale the 1948 Academy Award. Other notable film scores include The Battle of the River Plate, The Elusive Pimpernel, The Heart of the Matter and The Voyage of Magellan.