Christopher Gunning

Christopher Gunning is a prolific British composer with a passion for writing large-scale symphonic works, more intimate concert pieces, and film and TV scores. In his concert music he has developed an individual yet approachable, colourful, and highly expressive language which frequently gives his music a strongly dramatic and emotional flavour.

In film, he has worked on a wide variety of productions, ranging from period to contemporary dramas and wildlife films, and has won many awards for his work.

Gunning’s career has continually developed since he studied composition with Edmund Rubbra and Richard Rodney Bennett at the Guildhall school of Music and Drama. Although he set out to be a composer of serious concert music, he soon became involved in the media, writing the scores for numerous commercials, television dramas, and films. He also provided characterful arrangements for well-known recording artists.

Now highly regarded as a film and TV composer, Christopher Gunning is best known as the writer of the iconic signature theme for “Agatha Christie’s Poirot” and evocative music for Olivier Dahan’s “La Vie En Rose.” Often instantly recognisable, Gunning’s film and TV music also includes “Rosemary & Thyme,” “Goodbye Gemini,” “Wild Africa”, “Firelight,” “When The Wales Came,” “Karaoke” and “Cold Lazarus.” With a career spanning 40 years, he is a recipient of 4 BAFTA Awards for “La Vie en Rose,” Agatha Christie’s “Poirot,” “Middlemarch” and “Porterhouse Blue,” and 3 Ivor Novello Awards for “Rebecca,” “Under Suspicion,” and “Firelight,’” and a Czech Lion for “La Vie En Rose.” His latest commission is for the score of “Grace of Monaco” to be composed and recorded early in 2013. The film is directed by Olivier Dahan and stars Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth.

A collection of Gunning’s music for films and TV is to be found on the Chandos label: “The Film and TV Music of Christopher Gunning.” The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Rumon Gamba.

It is over the past fifteen years or so that Gunning has returned to the very different world of concert music, and has won high praise for his work. First came the Saxophone Concerto ”On Hungerford Bridge,” recorded by leading saxophonist John Harle. It was inspired by a summer evening’s walk across Hungerford Bridge, when he heard a saxophonist busking against the sounds of the city. Gramophone Magazine remarked “The most striking work, by far: this is a haunting work, ending as magnetically as it opens.” This was closely followed by his 1st Piano Concerto, and Symphonies 1 and 2.

But it was with Symphonies no. 3 and 4, and his Concerto for Oboe and Strings, released on the Chandos label, that Gunning really attracted attention.

Christopher Gunning’s knowledge and influences are widely eclectic and range from pop music, jazz and film music to Ravel, Bartok, Stravinsky, Ginastera and Lutoslawski. He argues that it should be possible to draw on various techniques to express a wide variety of emotions.

Symphony no 3 is composed in a single movement with sub-sections, and is highly dramatic; it was composed against the backdrop of a possibly life-threatening illness. As therapy, the composer spent many hours walking in the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons of Wales, and the work explores the area’s changing light patterns, seasonal changes, and unpredictable weather conditions. Symphony no 4, also in a single movement; by then his health had improved remarkably and it is generally more optimistic in nature, but nevertheless dramatic. He was more inclined to adopt a celebratory mood in some forceful fanfare-like music towards the end.

Since then Gunning has composed Symphonies 5, 6 and 7. No’s 6 and 7 follow his fascination with a single movement form broken into several sub-sections, but no. 5 is in four extended movements. With an overall duration of some 55 minutes, this is Gunning’s largest-scale orchestral work to date, and it is scheduled for release by Discovery early in 2013 in a recording by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the composer.

Gunning loves conducting, and also thrives on working with performers and ensembles such as guitarists John Williams and Craig Ogden, violinist Anja Bukovec, saxophonist John Harle, pianist Olga Dudnik.,oboist Verity Gunning, flautist Catherine Handley, and clarinettist Michael Whight. He has worked with the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Mephisto ensemble, Fine Arts Brass, Manchester Camerata, Finchley Children’s Music Group, and Winchester College Choir.

  • Christopher Gunning has composed twelve symphonies, as well as concertos for the piano, violin, cello, flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, and guitar; many of these have now been recorded. He has also composed many scores for films and television dramas, including Agatha Christie’s ‘Poirot’, La Vie en Rose, Middlemarch, Cold Lazarus, Rebecca, Under Suspicion, Firelight, The Big Battalions, Wild Africa, When the Whales Came and Porterhouse Blue. With a career spanning 50 years, he has won 4 BAFTA and 3 Ivor Novello Awards, and BASCA’s prestigious Gold Badge Award. Christopher studied composition with Edmund Rubbra and Sir Richard Rodney Bennett at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. After a hugely successful career writing for the big and small screen he is now focussed on his classical work and releases.   All downloads include booklets.
  • CHRISTOPHER GUNNING: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 7 | Night Voyage

    £8.00£14.00 Available February 5, 2021.
    Following the celebrated releases of Gunning’s Symphonies Nos. 2, 10 & 12 in 2019 and his concertos for Violin and Cello with the piece ‘Birdflight’ in 2020, Signum presents the recording of Symphonies Nos. 6 & 7 as well as his piece ‘Night Voyage’, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Linked by the theme of journeying, Symphonies 6 & 7 explore Gunning’s fascination with a single movement form broken into several sub-sections. The piece ‘Night Voyage’ is a sea piece born on a rainy evening whilst the composer was standing on the edge of the Mersey river. Four-time BAFTA winning composer Christopher Gunning, has composed twelve symphonies as well as concertos for the piano, violin, cello, flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, and guitar. “Gunning’s [...] symphonies, numerous concertos and sundry orchestral pieces are as meticulously wrought as they are powerfully conceived.”  - Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone
  • Christopher Gunning returns with recordings of his Violin Concerto, Cello Concerto and Birdflight. Not composed until 2011, Gunning's Violin Concerto was composed after inspiration whilst the composer was out hiking in Wales. The violin is supposed to represent ducking and weaving, rather like the insects and animals found in the Welsh hills and valleys. However, despite this positive venture for the composer, the emotions of sadness and melancholy are never far from this music - feelings which never seem far from Gunning's music. The Cello Concerto is quite different. Although composed hard on the heels of the Violin Concerto, it is generally darker though equally expressive. The third piece, Birdflight, is for the orchestra alone; a kind of tone poem. At the opening and close there is some quiet night music with spacious strings. The birds take flight but encounter a problem; a hawk is on their tail. The birds manage to hide and there is a pause. Then, when danger has passed, they take off and once again enjoy the sheer pleasure of flying.   All downloads include booklets.
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