Born in London on 28th April, 1930, his early education was at Taunton School, Devon, and later as scholar at the Royal Academy of Music, London. Following further period of education at Durham University, he studied composition with Lennox Berkeley. In 1964, after a period of school teaching, he became senior assistant in music presentation at the BBC. The following year he was appointed tutor in music at the Oxford University Department for Extramural studies, a post he relinquished in 1982 in order to devote more time to his creative work. Alongside his composition, he was active as a writer and broadcaster, also traveling widely as a pianist and examiner.
In 1986, John Ogdon wrote of his 'extraordinary abilities as a pianist'' but although he shied away from making too many concert appearances, he did release 4 CD albums (1 of British music including two works of his own) for Kingdom Records.
Headington's music is beautifully crafted: its powerfully expressive and warmly lyrical qualities are already evident in the Violin Concerto (1959), whose 1991 recording by ASV (with Xue-Wei as soloist and the London Philharmonic Orchestra) brought him wide recognition. The chamber music, in particular the String Quartet No. 2 and the Piano Quartet, is cogently argued and serious in tone: the finale of the Third String Quartet, composed in celebration of Haydn's 250th anniversary, ingeniously reworks material from the latter's Quartet op. 77 no. 2. Headington also wrote with assurance for his own instrument: the Cinquanta and Ballade-Image, both for solo piano, reflect his admiration for Debussy and Chopin, achieving an ideal balance between brilliance and poetry. Equally significant are his vocal works, among them the song-cycle, The Healing Fountain, an eloquent memorial tribute to Britten which Headington ranked as his finest achievement.
Shortly after the recording of his Piano Concerto for ASV (with Gordon-Fergus Thompson as soloist), Christopher travelled to Switzerland for a skiing holiday where he died in an accident on March 19, 1996 aged 65.
LIST OF COMPOSITIONS
• Variations on an Original Theme (1950) - Piano and Orchestra
• Introduction and Allegro (1951) - Chamber Orchestra
• Violin Concerto (1959) [Bardic Edition]
• The Healing Fountain (1978) - Medium Voice and Orchestra
• Sinfonietta (1985) - Chamber Orchestra
• Bassoon Concerto (1990)
• Piano Concerto (1991)
• Time (1992) - Piano and Strings
• Greenwich Time (1992) - Piano and Strings
• Serenade (1993) - Violoncello and String Orchestra
• Symphony (1996)
• Violoncello Sonata (1953)
• String Quartet No. 1 (1953)
• Oboe Sonatina (1960)
• Four Pieces (1963) - Violin and Piano
• Adagio and Capriccio (1966) - Viola and Piano
• Five Descant Duets (1969) - Recorders
• String Quartet No. 2 (1972)
• Piano Quartet (1978)
• Canzona (1978) - Brass Ensemble
• Shrewsbury Variations (1981) - Violin and Piano
• String Quartet No. 3 (1985)
• Bassoon Sonata (1988)
• Elgar Variations (1993) - Violin, Horn and Piano
• Midsummer (1995) - Narrator, Oboe and Piano
• Party Piece (1995) - Two Pianos, Four Hands
• Five Preludes (1953) - Piano [J. W. Chester/Novello] - available through www.musicroom.com
• Piano Sonata No. 1 (1955)
• Cheerful Tune (1959) - Piano [Joseph Weinberger]
• Sad Pastoral (1959) - Piano [Joseph Weiberger]
• Italian Dance (1959) - Piano [Joseph Weinberger]
• Adventures with Twelve Notes (1959) - Piano
• Scottish Dance (1959) - Piano
• Prelude and Fugue (1959) - Organ
• Flute Sonatina (1960) - Solo Flute [Bardic Edition]
• Scherzo (1960) - Solo Violoncello
• Barcarolle (1960) - Piano [Joseph Weinberger]
• Prelude (1961) - Solo Vibraphone
• Toccata (1962) - Piano [J. W. Chester/Novello] - available through www.musicroom.com
• Elegy (1968) - Piano
• Piano Sonata No. 2 (1974)
• Scherzetto (1980) - Solo Tuba
• Ballade-Image (1982) - Piano
• • Piano Sonata No. 3 (1985)
• Cinquanta (1986) - Piano
• Wedding Piece (1989) - Piano
• Lied und Wilder Tanz (1991) - Solo Violoncello
• Spring Flowers (1993) - Piano
• Now That You're Gone (1993) - Piano
• Romantic Rumba (1993) - Piano
• The Time of Your Life (1993) - Piano
• Nuit Tombante (1950) - Mixed choir a cappella
• Five Poems of Robert Herrick (1954) - Mixed choir a cappella [Bardic Edition]
• Hear My Prayer, O Lord (1960) - Mixed choir a cappella
• O Magnum Mysterium (1960) - Mixed choir a cappella
• Nunc Dmittis (1960) - Mixed choir a cappella
• Lord, I Have Called (1966) - Male voices a cappella
• Man's Redemption (1966) - SATB choir a cappella [Faber Music]
• Put on The Whole Armour of God (1966) - SATB choir and Organ
• A Bradfield Mass (1977) - Choir, Congregation and Organ
• A Wedding Anthem (1988) - Mixed choir a cappella
• In Commendation of Music (1992) - Mixed choir a cappella
• Three Poems of Rilke (1961) - Medium Voice and Piano
• Reflection of Summer (1965) - Medium Voice and Piano
• Towards a Pindaric Ode (1965) - Medium Voice and Piano
• A Clouded Starre: Six Poems by Henry Vaughan (1975) - Low Voice and Piano
Stage, Film, Arrangements etc.
• The Wise Man and the Foolish (1950) - Film Music
• Chanson de l’eternelle tristesse (1957) - Ballet
• The Trojan Women (1993) - Incidental Music for Chorus and Orchestra
• The Season's [Tchaikovsky] (1993) - Solo Violin and String Orchestra Kitchener’s Army? March for military band (1915) (edited by Barry Peter Ould) [BDE 1100]
Sketches, Unfinished Compositions etc.*
• Berkeley Bouquet - ?
• Fantasia on a Theme of Bach - ?
• Land of Dreams (Blake) - Voice and Piano
• Out on the Lawn I Lie in Bed (Auden) - Voice and Piano
• Psalm 90 - ?
• Rhapsody No. 3 - ?
• Scottish Reel - ?
• Sheep in the Shade - ?
• Sonatine - ?
• Song of Unending Sorrow - ?
• Three Shakespeare Sonnets - ?
• Variations on a Theme of Brahms - ?
• Viola Concerto - ?
*These works were found in a listing of titles registered with the PRS (Performing Right Society) but they were not included on the list of compositions provided to us by Christopher Headington at the commencement of our publishing association. As a number of his manuscripts have still to be located, it is hoped that when found, the above listed pieces will be clarified.
• The Orchestra and its Instruments (Bodley Head, London, 1965)
• History of Western Music (Bodley Head, London, 1974; 1980)
• Illustrated Dictionary of Music Terms (Bodley Head, London, 1980)
• The Performing World of the Musician (Hamilton House, London, 1981)
• Britten (Eyre Methuen, London, 1981)
• A Listener's Guide to Chamber Music (Blandford Press, London, 1982)
• Opera: A History (Bodley Head, London, 1987)
• Sweet Sleep: An Anthology of Lullabies (Garamond - date unknown)
• Peter Pears: A Biography (Faber, London, 1992)
• Bach (Pavilion Books/Classic FM - date unknown)
• Chopin (Pavilion Books/Classic FM - date unknown)
Contributions to the following anthologies:
• Franz Liszt - A Symposium (Barrie & Jenkins, London, 1970)
• The Dictionary of Composers (Book Club Associates, London, 1977)
• Building a Library (OUP, Oxford, 1979)
• The Britten Companion (Faber, London, 1984)
• A Companion to the Concerto (Christopher Helm, London, 1988)
• The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Classical Music (Salamander Books, 1989)
• The International Dictionary of Opera (St. James Press, Chicago, 1993)
• A Guide to Classical Composers (Colour Library Books, 1994)
He also wrote for:
• The Inventions that Changed the World (Readers Digest, 1982)
• The Fontana Biographical Companion to Modern Thought (Fontana, 1983)
Pictures and Pleasures (Kingdom Records - CD: KCLCD 2002; Cassette: CKCL 2002)
Russian Trinkets - Piano Miniatures from 19th Century Russia (Kingdom Records - CD: KCLCD 2008; Cassette: CKCL 2008)
Sir Lennox Berkeley - Selected Compositions for piano solo (Kingdom Records - CD: KCLCD 2012; Cassette: CKCL 2012)
20th Century Piano Music - “A Tunnel of Time” (Kingdom Records - CD: KCLCD 2017; Cassette: CKCL 20017)
These CD albums can be obtained from all good record stores or failing that write direct to:
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