Cyril Ornadel

An English composer, arranger and conductor for theatre and films.
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Artist Biography

b. 2 December 1924, London, England. A composer, arranger and conductor for the theatre and films, Ornadel studied piano, double bass, and composition at the Royal College of Music. He was with ENSA for a while, and later toured Europe with the popular singer Dorothy Carless. He led his own all-female band at Murray’s Club in London, and later worked as a concert party pianist. After providing some musical and vocal arrangements for the Players’ Theatre, he was appointed musical director of the touring show Hello Beautiful, which led to his first London assignment as the conductor of a pantomime at the People’s Palace in the Mile End Road. In 1950, he became the West End’s youngest pit conductor when he took over the baton for the musical revue Take It From Us at the Adelphi Theatre. During the remainder of the 50s he conducted for the London productions of several successful American musicals, such as Kiss Me, Kate, Call Me Madam, Paint Your Wagon, Wish You Were Here, Pal Joey, Wonderful Town, Kismet, Plain And Fancy, and My Fair Lady. Ornadel also collaborated with David Croft on the scores for regional productions of Star Maker, The Pied Piper, and the London Palladium’s 1956 pantomime, The Wonderful Lamp (with Phil Park). For much of the 50s he was the resident musical director for the top-rated television programme, Sunday Night At The London Palladium. In 1960, he and lyricist Norman Newell won Ivor Novello Awards for their delightful ballad, ‘Portrait Of My Love’, which gave Matt Monro his first UK chart hit. Ornadel’s other ‘Ivors’ (to date) came in 1963 for ‘If I Ruled The World’ (lyric by Leslie Bricusse), the hit song from his score for the immensely successful musical, Pickwick, starring Harry Secombe; and the scores for two ‘Best British Musicals’, Treasure Island (1973) and Great Expectations (1975), both with Hal Shaper.

After playing its initial UK dates and in several Canadian cities, Ornadel and Shaper rewrote the score for Great Expectations, and the revised version was presented at the Liverpool Playhouse (1989) and in Sydney, Australia (1991). Ornadel’s other stage musicals have included Ann Veronica (1969, with Croft), Once More, Darling (1978, with Newell), Winnie (1988, additional songs with Arnold Sundgaard), Cyrano: The Musical (with Shaper), and The Last Flower On Earth (1991, with Kelvin Reynolds). Over the years, Ornadel has also conducted and/or composed and orchestrated the music for numerous radio, film and television productions, including Some May Live, Subterfuge, The Waitors, I Can’t, I Can’t, Wedding Night, Man Of Violence, Europa Express, Cool It Carol, Die Screaming Marianne, Yesterday, The Flesh And The Blood Show, The Strauss Family (series), Edward VII (series), Christina, Brief Encounter (1974 remake), and many more. His albums, especially those on which his Starlight Symphony Orchestra celebrated the great popular composers, have been extremely successful, especially in America. He also composed a series of children’s records for EMI, and was the musical supervisor for the Living Bible records with Sir Laurence Olivier, and created the ‘Stereoaction Orchestra’ for RCA Records. A genial, and much-liked man, in the early 90s Cyril Ornadel was living and working in Israel. His many albums include: Musical World Of Lerner And Loewe, Opening Night-Broadway Overtures, Bewitched, Camelot, Carnival, Dearly Beloved, Enchanted Evening, Gone With The Wind, Musical World Of Jerome Kern, Musical World Of Cole Porter, Musical World Of Rodgers And Hammerstein, So Nice To Come Home To, and The Music Man.