Howard Goodall CBE is one of Britain’s best-known composers of choral music, stage musicals, TV and film scores. He is also a distinguished music historian and broadcaster.
Howard has composed some of the best-known British TV theme tunes of the last 40 years, including Mr Bean, Blackadder, Red Dwarf, Q.I. and The Vicar of Dibley. The animated Mr Bean series, for which he writes all the music, is one of the most followed entertainment products on earth, with over 80 million Facebook followers and 10 million YouTube subscribers. He scored both Mr Bean movies as well as Johnny English Strikes Back. His score for the 2011 HBO film Into the Storm won him a Primetime EMMY for Original Dramatic Score.
His choral music has been commissioned to mark many national ceremonies and memorials; his settings of Psalm 23 and Love divine are amongst the most performed of all sacred music, featuring on several platinum-selling CDs. Eternal Light: A Requiem has had over 700 live performances throughout the world since its première in 2008 and won him a Classical BRIT Award for Composer of the Year. His 2009 Enchanted Voices, a setting of the Beatitudes, was no.1 in the Specialist Classical CD chart for six months, winning him a Gramophone award. In June 2012 his Rigaudon accompanied Queen Elizabeth II on her Diamond Jubilee Regatta and he was musically responsible for Rowan Atkinson’s memorable performance at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. On 4th August 2014 his anthem Sure of the Sky-Des Himmels sicher, especially commissioned for the occasion, was performed at the St Symphorien Military Cemetery, Mons, to mark the start of the First World War, in the presence of heads of state of all combatant nations.
Other large scale choral works include Every Purpose Under the Heaven: The King James Bible Oratorio, which received its first performance conducted by the composer in Westminster Abbey in November 2011, Invictus: A Passion (2018) commissioned & premièred by St Luke’s United Methodist Church, Houston, Texas, Christmas Cantata (2018), Never to Forget (2020-1), for the London Symphony Chorus, paying tribute to health and social care workers who have died in the covid-19 pandemic, and Unconditional Love: A Cantata of Gratitude & Remembrance (2021), commissioned & premièred by St Luke’s United Methodist Church, Houston, Texas, in November 2021 and which had its UK & European première performed by the BBC Singers on 13th February 2022, both conducted by the composer.
Howard’s first West End musical, The Hired Man, based on Melvyn Bragg’s book, opened in the West End in 1984, when he was 24. It has since been performed all over the world and won many international awards.
His other West End musicals include Girlfriends (1987), The Kissing-Dance (1998), the dreaming (2001), Love Story (2010), and in 2015-6, Bend it Like Beckham, adapted from Gurinder Chadha’s iconic 2002 film, which was seen by a quarter of a million people at the Phoenix Theatre and has since had Austrian and Canadian premières. Since its London opening, Love Story has been premièred in the USA, The Russian Federation, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, South Korea and Brazil, where it was produced in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympiad. Musicals currently in development include Stunners, with Joanne Harris, which was premièred at London’s Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in the Autumn of 2019.
For the past 30 years he has written and presented his own TV documentary series on the theory and history of music: Howard Goodall’s Organ Works (1996), Howard Goodall’s Choir Works (1998), Howard Goodall’s Big Bangs (2000),Howard Goodall’s Great Dates (2002), Howard Goodall’s 20th Century Greats (2004), How Music Works (2006) and The Story of Music (2013).
His books, Big Bangs: The Story of Five Discoveries That Changed Musical History and Howard Goodall’s Story of Music have been translated and published in over 20 countries. His most recent TV film, Sergeant Pepper’s Musical Revolution was shown on BBC2 and PBS, and simultaneously worldwide on June 3rd 2017 to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of the landmark Beatles album. For his TV series he has been honoured with a BAFTA, an RTS Judges’ Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Education in Broadcasting and over a dozen other international broadcast awards. He was England’s first ever National Ambassador for Singing and Classic fm’s Composer-in-Residence from 2009 to 2016. He is married to music agent Val Fancourt and was appointed CBE in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to music education.