George Posford

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Born: March 23, 1906; Folkestone, Kent, England   Died: April 24, 1976; Worplesdon, Surrey, England  
George Posford came to a successful career in music after a three-year diversion studying the law. Born Benjamin George Ashwell in 1906, he studied at Downside and Christ's College, Cambridge -- at age 30, he chanced to provide some additional songs to a musical entitled Lavender, authored by Robert Courtneidge, and made the decision to pursue a music career. He studied at the Royal College of Music and emerged in the 1930s as a successful Read more composer of theater music, as well as film scores and light classical pieces. His collaboration with lyricist/librettist Eric Maschwitz was his most well-known body of work, much of it rooted in a somewhat outdated (but still popular) operetta style, beginning with the appropriately titled Good-Night Vienna, written for broadcast by the BBC and brought to the screen in 1932 (with Jack Buchanan and Anna Neagle) and staged in 1946; The Gay Hussar was typical of Posford's output, a tuneful work written in an easily accessible Old World style and setting (hence its title, put before the public in the same year that Hitler and Roosevelt came to power); that work and Posford's music, embellished by Czech composer Bernard Grun, were later transformed into Balalaika, which ran in London for over a year and was adapted into a film of the same name and starring Nelson Eddy. It also yielded one of Posford's most enduring tunes from the song "At the Balalaika." He and Grun collaborated with Maschwitz on Paprika, another operetta-like confection, authored in part in Budapest and later revised as Magyar Melody, which left behind one enduring tune, "Mine Alone." Posford collaborated with Harry Parr Davies on the hit wartime musical Full Swing, and later worked for the BBC's Overseas Recorded Broadcasting Service. In 1951, he had the most successful show (and his only solo composer credit for a London show) of his career, Zip Goes a Million, authored with Maschwitz as a showcase for its star, George Formby. Posford died in 1976, long after pop/rock had supplanted any memory of the quaintly melodic works on which he'd built his reputation. In 2001, Zip Goes a Million was revived in London -- that production and its cast album are Posford's claims to recognition in the twenty-first century. His better songs turn up on nostalgia-oriented CDs, and his light classical works such as Transatlantic Rhapsody -- pieces worthy of Trevor Duncan -- are periodically heard. Read less

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