Howard Blake is a composer, conductor, lyricist and pianist. Howard wrote the musical score for both the original film and stage production of The Snowman at The Rep in 1993.
It’s an unbelievable 33 years since Howard Blake wrote the musical score for the cartoon film The Snowman, made by Channel 4 and
screened at Christmas every year since. Concert performances of The Snowman – sometimes with narration, sometimes with orchestra
and projected film – take place in many countries, from Macao to Toronto, from Hong Kong to St. Petersburg. In November 2009 the
Guardian placed Howard’s music to The Snowman second only to Harry Potter in the kids’ top ten classical music favourites, and ahead
of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and Prokofiev’s Peter And The Wolf.
The stage show, that first came into being at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1993, grew out of Raymond Briggs’ picture book,
Dianne Jackson’s marvellous animated cartoon and Robert North’s beautiful ballet, but the music (more than 80 minutes of it) in a sense
grew directly out of the song, as Musical Opinion editor and critic Robert Matthew-Walker observed:
Walking in the Air is used as
the basis for a virtually continuous set of symphonic variations; a subtle and fully-wrought score which entrances the ears of all who are
brought into the magical world it conjures up.”
Remarkably, and much to Howard’s delight, the same creative team is still in place after
18 years, Bill Alexander as stage director, Robert North as choreographer, Ruari Murchison as designer and Jeremy Young as pianist/
Howard grew up in Brighton and his lifetime of music-making began when at 18 he won the Hastings Festival Scholarship to the
Royal Academy as a pianist. But he also studied composition and it is this that has taken him all around the world, writing for every
genre imaginable. He lives in Kensington but since he started to maintain a database for his website in 2004 is engaged internationally
with many of his concert works. Recent CDs include recordings of concertos conducted by Sir Neville Marriner, piano music played by
Vladimir Ashkenazy, and music for cello and piano with young EU-prize-winner Benedict Kloeckner. On November 4 2015 in Edinburgh he
premiered a new half-hour animation film entitled The Land Of Counterpane which, in a series of beautiful songs sung by the children of
the Mary Erskine School accompanied by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, colourfully tells the story of the young Robert Louis Stevenson.
Howard believes this may become an exciting new companion-piece to The Snowman along with his other previous films such as Granpa
and The Bear. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of
Music and was made an OBE by The Queen in 1994 for ‘services to music’.