Steven Race

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Prolific U.K. broadcaster, pianist, writer and composer, ranges from jazz to classical music.
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b. 1 April 1921, Lincoln, England. Race is a prolific broadcaster, pianist, writer and composer, with tastes and skills ranging from jazz to classical music. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London before playing piano with various dance bands. He made his first broadcast with Willie Wilson’s Band from the Criterion Theatre, Piccadilly Circus, on 8 March 1941. Later that year Race joined the Royal Air Force, and organized his own musical ensembles, writing arrangements for name bands such Ted Heath, Eric Winstone, Phil Green and Paul Fenoulhet and the Skyrockets. After his demobilization in 1946, Race played on broadcasts with Lew Stone, George Elrick and Jack Jackson, and also spent six years as an audition pianist for the newly-formed BBC Television Service. From 1955-60, he was Light Music Advisor to the Associated Rediffusion Television company, and worked on several of their top-rated shows including Opportunity Knocks. In 1966 Race became chairman, and compiled the questions for the musical panel game My Music. First on radio, then television, the show ran for over 500 editions, and into the 90s. Other programmes during an extremely varied broadcasting career included Talk Of The Town, Centre Show, The Forces Show, Jazz In Perspective, Musician At Large, Kaleidoscope, Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Jazz Record Requests and current affairs programmes such as Any Questions and PM. He appeared regularly on BBC radio programmes hosted by great comedians such as Tony Hancock, Peter Sellers, Arthur Askey and Dickie Henderson. A contributor to numerous magazines and periodicals, he had a regular column in the Melody Maker for 12 years. His other publications include Musician At Large (an autobiography), My Music, Dear Music Lover, Steve Race’s Music Quiz, You Can’t Be Serious and The Two Worlds Of Joseph Race. In 1962 Race won the Ivor Novello Award for the Outstanding Orchestral Composition Of The Year with the Latin-styled ‘Nicola’, named after his daughter. His other compositions include ‘Pied Piper (The Beeje)’ (which entered the UK Top 30 in 1963), ‘Faraway Music’, ‘My Music - My Songs’, ‘The Day Of The Donkey’, in addition to countless pieces of mood music and incidental music for television and radio programmes such as Cyrano de Bergerac, Twelfth Night, Richard III, plus music for many television commercials. In 1987 he was awarded the Wavendon Allmusic Media Personality Of The Year Award, and in the following year his Steve Race Presents The BBC Radio Orchestra on Radio 2 won a major award. After celebrating 50 years of broadcasting in 1991, a year later his contribution to popular music was rewarded with an OBE.