Charles Williams

Composition Types

New Works (4)


Born: May 8, 1893 Died: September 7, 1978
Charles Williams started his career as a violinist, but gradually focused on composition, particularly on film scores. In the end, he had written music for more than 40 films, but often, especially in the 1930s and early '40s, his name was not listed in the credits. Among his better known efforts were the scores (or partial scores) for Alfred Hitchcock's The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935), The Night Has Eyes (1942), and While I Live (1947), which contains a brief concerto-like piece called The Dream of Olwen. This work became enormously popular worldwide, even though it was dismissed by some as derivative of Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto. Williams also contributed the title music to the film The Apartment (1960), a piece similar in spirit to that of his Dream of Olwen music. Much of Williams' wartime music was written for Chappell's Recorded Music Library and often turned up in newsreel footage of the war. He also wrote for radio and television, and often his works were recycled or arranged for another medium. But Williams also wrote many independent orchestral compositions, a good many of them marches. He typically composed in a light Classical style and had a talent for creating catchy melodies and was a skilled orchestrator.

Charles Williams (Isaac Cozerbreit) was born in London, England, on May 8, 1893. He was a talented violinist by his early teens and later on studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music under Norman O'Neill. He worked as a freelance violinist and often accompanied silent film. From 1933-1939 he scored films for Gaumont British Films and among his better known efforts were the aforementioned Thirty-Nine Steps and Hey! Hey! USA! (1938).

During the war years Williams was busy writing for films and for Chappell's Recorded Music Library, but he also regularly conducted the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra. After the war he became the conductor of this ensemble and also founded his own orchestra.

In the late '40s the BBC aired the radio program Dick Barton and used as the title piece one of Williams' orchestral works, The Devil's Galop, originally written for Chappell's. Williams also served as musical director for several films throughout his career, his efforts here including Tower of Terror (1941), House of the Arrow (1953), and The Doctor's Dilemma (1958). After 1968 Williams was largely inactive. He died in Worthing (West Sussex), England, on September 7, 1978.

There are 39 Charles Williams recordings available.

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Composition Types

New Works (4)