While by far best-known as a film and television composer, winning both Oscars and Emmy Awards, John Addison was also a prolific composer for woodwinds, where he displayed the same gift for lyricism and atmosphere.
His early musical studies were at the Royal College of Music, though interrupted by six years of military service. His teachers included Gordon Jacob, Leon Goossens, and Frederick Thurston. He graduated in 1948, also winning the Sullivan Prize. He first began writing for stage productions, becoming resident composer at the Royal Court Theater in London, and then was soon drawn into movies and television in 1949, becoming musical director to the Boulting Brothers studio. In 1951, he was appointed professor of composition at the R.C.M. Some of his earliest works from those days include soundtracks to Seven Days to Noon, Terror on the Train, and That Lady. In 1963, he won an Oscar for his music for Tom Jones. In 1966, his score for Torn Curtain replaced that of Bernard Herrmann's when the studio deemed Herrmann's not commercial enough. Other film scores include The Charge of the Light Brigade, A Taste of Honey, and A Bridge Too Far. In the '70s, he began writing more television music. For United States listeners, he may not have been a household name, but the Emmy-winning theme for Murder, She Wrote certainly was memorable. He remained musically active almost until his death; his Concertino for bassoon and orchestra premiered in 1998.