John Scott

John Scott
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Interview Date(s): 
12 Jul 2018
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John Scott has an established reputation both in Europe and America as one of the most versatile composers on the international scene. John was born in the historic city of Bristol in the west of England. His father was a capable musician and gave him his first lessons on the violin and clarinet when he was six years old. At the age of thirteen he moved to London with his mother and took a job as an apprentice repairman in a musical instrument shop. His ambition to become a professional clarinetist. However, his job did not afford him the time to practice so he applied to the Royal Artillery Band (Woolwich) and after he reached the age of 14 was accepted for training. He received a firm grounding in the fundamentals of performing on the clarinet and the harp. The Royal Artillery was renowned for its military band but its symphony orchestra was rated as the finest military orchestra in the world. Its musicians were readily recruited into the leading British symphony orchestras.

During his army service John came under the influence of jazz and took up the alto saxophone. On leaving the army he soon gained employment with touring bands building a reputation which led to him being hired by Ted Heath. It was with the famous Ted Heath Band that he started arranging music for broadcasts and recording.

In the 1960s as a performing musician he had an international reputation playing flute and saxophone for The Woody Herman Band, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Julian Bream Consort, the Beatles, Ravi Shankar, Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, John Dankworth and Cleo Lane. As a top session musician he became the saxophone sound in the James Bond movies and the flute sound on the Beatles recordings.

The thrill of performing on film scores with such composers as Mancini led John to want to compose music for films. He started knocking on doors and was eventually accepted as an arranger by George Martin and Ron Richards for EMI records. This afforded invaluable experience in handling all kinds of orchestras. Finally some documentary films led to his first feature film A STUDY IN TERROR. 

Since then he has written numerous scores for international feature films such as Antony and Cleopatra, The Shooting Party, North Dallas Forty, Greystoke - the Legend of Tarzan, also major television dramas and series such as Mountbatten - the Last Viceroy and documentaries such as those for Jacques Cousteau. He has won numerous awards including 3 Emmy Awards. 

John's film music is well known throughout the world but his concert music is less well known. This is unfortunate but understandable. He has composed string quartets, a flute quintet, a horn trio, various chamber works, ballets, a concerto for guitar and orchestra, a saxophone concerto and a symphony. He stresses that it has been absolutely necessary to stretch himself in order to stay fresh and vital. At the moment he is working on an opera and a newly commissioned string quartet for the renowned Delme Quartet.

John's conducting career is also worth mentioning. He has conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra - all world class orchestras. He has also conducted concert performances of his works with several of Europe's leading orchestras, including the Munich Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Budapest Opera Orchestra, the Lubliana Radio Orchestra and the Prague Philharmonic. 

In the United States he has recently been appointed conductor of the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra with which he has just completed a new compact disc recording of his first feature film score A STUDY IN TERROR.

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