Obituary: Harry Rabinowitz (1916–2016)

The LSO is sad to hear of the death of conductor and composer Harry Rabinowitz on 22 June 2016.

Born in South Africa, Harry Rabinowitz came to the UK in the 1940s and soon established himself within the industry, rubbing shoulders with the singing stars of the day as a music director at the BBC’s Light Entertainment division and as head of music at London Weekend Television.

He conducted many film scores including The Remains of the Day, The English Patient, The Talented Mr Ripley and Cold Mountain; and was music director on numerous TV shows, West End musicals – including the first run of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats in 1981 – revues and radio series; not forgetting the Eurovision Song Contest! In 1985 John Williams nominated Harry for a position at the Boston Pops Orchestra, an experience he said was ‘one of the most rewarding and exhilarating jobs ever’. The breadth of Harry’s career was matched only by its length – over 70 years – and was truly magnificent.

His relationship with the LSO dates back to 1973 and together we had made over twenty film soundtrack and studio session recordings. He also conducted the early live performances of the ground-breaking Classic Rock series – albums which are still enormously popular today. He was closely involved in the first season of concerts at the newly-opened Barbican Centre in 1982, conducting the ‘Night of Knights’ gala concert and one of the now-legendary open air concerts on the Barbican’s Sculpture Court.

Rabinowitz-with-LSO-at-RAH-Harry Rabinowitz conducting the LSO at the Royal Albert Hall in 1976

Harry was hard at work right up until the end, despite passing his 100th birthday in March this year. He was due to take part in a concert with the LSO at the Barbican Hall on 26 November 2016 celebrating both his birthday and his long career in film and TV music. We are extremely sorry not to have the chance to celebrate his magnificent contribution to music, and send our thoughts to his wife Mitzi and family.


Please note that we will be in contact shortly with all ticket holders for the concert on 26 November


Top photo: © BBC, Desert Island Discs
Listen to Harry's appearance on Desert Island Discs, recorded 3 July 2015