Edward Williams

Edward Williams
Edward Aneurin
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Awards and Honours: 
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Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
12 Jan 1994
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Interview notes

Born 1921. Father a journalist on The Time. Always musical. Went to Rugby which had a good music department. On to Trinity Cambridge. Cinematic education through university film society. Decided on a musical career. Left university and became assistant to Muir Mathieson. Involved in the recording of music for 49th Parallel. Met Vaughan Williams. Worked in cutting room with David Lean. Also worked in offices of Film Centre at 34 Soho Square. Met Arthur Elton and Basil Wright. Detailed memories of Muir Mathieson. Called up for the Navy in 1941.

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Went back to MUIR MATHIESON after the War. Recalls the hectic activity at Denham Studios at that time. First job recording the- music for Odd Man Out. Film made a great impact. Memories of its composer, WILLIAM ALWYN.  Memories too of ALAN RAWSTHORNE and JOHN HOLLINGSWORTH. More details of MATHESON’s way of working, in sessions and in commissioning modem British composers. Also involved in "Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra" with BRITTEN.

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 Composition lessons with ALWYN at the Royal Academy of Music. Pleasant  artistic life in Soho. Shared a house with BILL HOWELL. Knew MICHAEL LAW, DONALD TAYLOR, DYLAN THOMAS, JOHN MORTIMER. Married a daughter of AUGUSTUS JOHN. RALPH KEENE became his brother in law. Commissioned by LIONEL COLE to write music for Shell film. Went on to write music for British Transport Films. Mostly conducted by MARCUS DODS, a Rugby contemporary. Talks about the sense of public service in film making then. Inspired by EDGAR ANSTEY, GRIERSON etc. Scored films tor the UN sponsored by Shell. Also a film on British Waterways with ROD BAXTER and KITTY MARSHALL. Collected ballads from an old canal man. Knew LOTTE REINIGER who made animated films using shadow puppets. Also her husband, CARL KOCH, a friend of RENOlR’s, and the only man who could manage VON STROHEIM. Worked with JACK HOWELLS on a film on Dylan Thomas.

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 Wrote the scores for two second features. "Double Crossing" for Group Three Plctures. (Talks about Group Three and its work). Also "Unearthly Stranger" for JOHN KRISH. Describes the business side of a composer. The fight to stop producers taking a share of their royalties. Work of the Composers Guild. Work of the Performing Rights Society and the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society. Unlike MATHIESON, who was an intermediary, he liked to work directly with a director. The importance of being a good listener.

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 More about MARCUS DODS. Second marriage to JUDY SWINGLER, daughter of RANDALL, and niece of HUMPHREY SWINGLER. Moved to Bristol during students’ strike of 1968. Met CHRIS PARSONS and commissioned to write music for "Life of Earth" television series. Goes on to describe his work in "electro-acoustic music". Experiments in electronic sounds used in Shell Films. DR. MOOG and his synthesiser. PETER ZlNOVEV’s computer-generated music. Opened a studio. Synthesised music easier to handle.

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Extends his work into the generation of musical sounds  by  body  movements.  Developments of the "Theremin Vox" and the "Ondes Martenot". Work on his "Soundbeam". Its use by handicapped children. Retrospective view of friends, and the skills of recording and dubbing engineers such as KEN CAMERON, KEN SCRIVENER and GEORGE NEWBERRY.

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Edward Williams born in Surrey in 1921. University and  Navy service,Assistant to legendary film conductor Muir Mathieson. British documentary composer began in 1948,  Lecturer at the University of Bristol . Designed Soundbeam an electronic music machine . 1995 BAFTA Cymru award  best original score " The Search for Arthur".

There follows 4 pages of notes (mostly names) possibly by Edward Williams, covering various "chapters" of his life which may have been used as a "prompt". The fourth page is his "technical history". [DS]

Edward Aneurin Williams



Cambridge - Group of Jooss dancers and musicians - Clifton Parker - Dartington - Hein Heckroth ("Red Shoes" - connection with Powell)

Peter Price (CUFS)

Muir Mathieson (Jan to Sept 1941)

Korda,Bliss, "Things to Come", Sargent


"The 49th Parallel" Leslie Howard, Eric Portman, Mary Morris, VW, LSO, George

Stratton Michael Powell Pressburger David Lean


Money ethics - consultant status - some previous md s taking cuts from players


Union Power - Herbert Wilcox (Spring in Park Lane?) -"Props" Music for RAF Film - Brian Easedale - John Greenwood Office at Film Centre, 34 Soho Square,

Basil Wright, Arthur Elton, Edgar Anstey (?)

World Documentary News? or Doc News Letter (?) Lionel Cole

VW and "The People's Land"

Dick Addinsell - friendship - Joyce Grenfell


The Navy (1941 - 46)

With Muir after the War (1946 - 8) Muir - EW's wages - IAW's comments.

Denham - Rank Empire - Denham, Pinewood, Shepherds Bush - Sydney Box -

Islington, Doc (Ealing asst to Ernest Irving) "Odd Man Out" - Bill Alwyn , Carol Reed, John Hollingsworth

Marcus Dods

Sheila King - New ACT job category "Music Continuity" Dusty Buck (ex Pinewood?)

Historian John Huntley - publicity (Film music and trains)

Alex Shaw

Bill Alwyn - (EW losing scores) subsequent "composition lessons"



Orchestras - Philharmonia - Walter Legge - ????? -

LSO - Gordon Walker (Alwyn story) - Eddie Walker - 3 generations -

Sinfonia of London fixers - Pat Halling

Orchestral musicians - Aubrey and Dennis Brain - George Eskdale - Colin Conductor Clt ("A or B“) - Jack Thurston ("Try anything except incest or folkdancing") - Willem (Bill) de Mont (closing time) - Gervaise de Peyer - Richard Adeney - Peter (Timmy) Graeme, Philip Jones, Jock Sutcliffe, Jimmie Blades (passion for and knowledge of Dickens), Osian Ellis, Marie Goossens, Sidonie Goossens, Jessie Hinchliffe, Marie Wilson vln

Alan Rawsthorne.

Muir and session-conducting genius - concert conducting - quid pro quo - association with Ken Cameron - GPO - Auden/Britten "Nightmail" - Crown - Anvil finally at Denham (L o E)

Britten "Instruments of the Orchestra" Bernard Stevens - Express (?) prize Cedric Thorp Davie, scots composer

The New London Film Society - my film education - Olwen Vaughan



The Highlander - George Elvin - Ralph Bond - Bessie Bond The Dog and Duck

The French Pub - Gaston Berlemont pere et fils- Louis the Waiter - pools win

The Swiss

Fava’s - Angus Wilson - The Gargoyle - Mandrake - The Wine bar - Muriel Belcher - The Colony Room -

The French Club - Olwen Vaughan - Cavalcanti - Grierson - Elisabeth Lutyens - Edward Clark - ISCM

Dylan Thomas, John Mortimer, Humphrey Jennings Michael Law - long friendship - nightclubs

The Carribean Club - Lauderic Caton, Fitzroy Coleman Dick Katz, Coleridge Goode, Documentary Film Makers and Companies

Greenpark - St Martin’s Lane

Ralph Keene, later Humphrey Swingler, Paul Fletcher (FFB?) - "Cyprus is an Island" - (Laurie Lee) - Terry Bishop - "3 Dawns to Sydney" - "Waverley Steps" - "Five Towns" - (Randall Swingler?)

Donald Taylor - Strand Films

Realist - John Taylor - Basil Wright - Frank Sainsbury - Ben Weinreb

Crown Film Unit - John Taylor - Less music - "Young Offenders" with John Hol. George Cole - "Oddy" -


 The Sack


         Alwyn - RAM

Lionel Cole - Arthur Elton - Shell Film Unit - "How an Aeroplane Flies - Part 3 Thrust" - Kays Studio - Maida Vale

Then "What a Life" - Michael Law - Richard Massingham - H.W.Massingham of the Manchester Guardian (?) - COI - "Is this worth £6,000.00 of your mone› ?" (Tatler or other small news cinema)

Shell Fim Unit - Edgar Anstey - Geoffrey Bell - Sara Erulkar "New Detergents" - "History of the Helicopter"

"Stanlow Story" - Peter de Normanville - Bill Mason - Motor Racing - Lionel Cole - "Venezuela" John Armstrong - "Mekong" - "Singapore" - Dennis Segaller - Sara and Peter - Michael Clark "Food or Famine" (FAO UN)

Theory of PR from Frank Pick, - Grierson, -Sir Stephen Tallents (?), Empire Marketing Board, - GPO etc.

Films for Crown - Lotte Reiniger - Karl Koch - von Stroheim - Renoir - "La Grande Illusion" - (Trick table - Empire boundaries - political Power)

Films for British Transport Commission Film Unit - Edgar Anstey - Stuart McAllister - John Legard - ??? ed

Journey Into Spring to Wild Wings (1966) (Oscar) Ralph Keene, Paddy Carey, John Taylor (3 others - Usk - Seals and Seabirds - Winter)

WaterWays - "There Go The Boats" R K. (Rod) Neilson Baxter - Kay (Mander) -

Kitty Marshall editor

"Train Time" John Shearman - "The Elephant Will Never Forget" John Krish - ??? - "Unearthly Stranger"

Leon Clore - Graham Tharp - John Taylor - "Gateway to the Antarctic" ‹Duncan Carse) - Everest

Jack Howells - Pathe- "Guilty Chimneys" to "Dylan Thomas" - Richard Burton - (Oscar)- ("Earth" Thames TV 1988?)


2nd Marriage 1957 - Peppins - James Gibb - Marcus Dods

Technical History


Composing music for Films develops into

Making Music for Films and TV

Recording changes - Role of recordist - Giant Loops (A.Elton) - improvised music - George Burgess (sound recordist) - Riverside Studios - Holst music for film (?)

Ken Cameron - GPO - Crown (Beaconsfield) - Anvil (Denham)

Viewing changes - Movieola - Editola - ????? - video-cassette player Synch - Measurements

Dubbing - George Newberry (Pathe) - Ken Scrivener (Anvil) - Words the enemy! Electronics - Ken Scrivener and feedback - "Between The Tides" -

Peter Zinovieff, EMS and the VCS3 - designer David Cockerell - Tristram Cary - 1963(?)  Week‘s workshop for composers - Robert Moog - 1970 my own electronic studio

Douglas Gordon - "This Land" -

"Life on Earth" ( my  last recordings at Denham) "Water Walkers"

BBC Nat Hist Unit

Making Music for films and TV in the studio today.

Composers income - Royalties - Publisher's share of film and tv royalties- Musico- political work on CGGB, APC, MU (ACCS) committees - CJC - the problems.

Some comments - the planning of words, FX and music much worse nowadays(?)

Work - over the last 15 years or so - for BBC Natural History Unit (Bristol), Thames TV (London), Greenpark Productions (London), Pelican Films (London). Forum Television (Bristol) and Teliesyn (Cardiff)

Current occupations