Film, Television and Concert Composer.
PAUL LEWIS was born into a family of professional musicians in Brighton, England, in 1943. As a child he was fascinated by history and ancient buildings, reluctantly learning the piano from the age of nine. At twelve he saw the Shakespeare films of Laurence Olivier with Walton’s music and immediately realized he had to be a composer. He purposely avoided all formal training, choosing instead to leave school at fifteen and enter music publishing to find out how the music business worked from inside.
From the age of nineteen his short orchestral pieces were recorded as production library music and found their way into the cinema newsreels of the day, and at twenty he became Assistant Musical Adviser to ABC Television, one of the larger British Independent Television companies. Within a few months he had composed his first score for a major TV drama, since when he has scored over 150 series and one-offs as well as being the subject of a half-hour ITV documentary. His TV work ranges from high drama with Orson Welles, Peter O’Toole, Christopher Lee and Celia Johnson, to international award-winning children’s comedy - (“Woof!”) - by way of Benny Hill and Monty Python.
He has also produced a considerable catalogue of published concert music ranging from concertos, string suites and overtures to chamber music and works for solo instruments, prominent among which are compositions for his favourite instrument, the harp. Several harp works, flute pieces, a basson and piano work and his “Concerto Burlesco” for bassoon and small orchestra are included in the Associated Boards and Trinity/Guildhall Examination syllabuses. His orchestral concert works are recorded on CD alongside the music of other English composers such as Arnold, Delius, Holst and Vaughan Williams, and are broadcast around the world, including regularly on Radio New Zealand Concert.
Lewis has also released a CD of themes and suites from his television scores, “Three Decades of TV Themes,” conducting the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, and “Serenade and Dance,” a CD of his harmonica chamber music with soloist James Hughes, both in the Campion Cameo British Composer Series.
Lewis’s parallel life has been the study and pursuit of mediaeval and renaissance art and architecture in England and Europe. He has restored three houses of the period using ancient building methods, culminating in the fourteen-year recreation of a courtly early Tudor interior, complete with furniture and tapestries of the period, at the splendid courthouse built by Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, at Martock in Somerset. He now lives with his wife soprano Sharon Elizabeth in a beautiful Tudor timber-framed house in Sussex.
Since meeting in 2007 Lewis and his wife have divided their time between England and New Zealand, and in addition to his many composing commitments, Lewis is Sharon Elizabeth’s musical director and piano accompanist in everything from operatic excerpts to very naughty cabaret! They perform at festivals in New Zealand and the UK, with regular seasons in the Napier Art Deco Weekend, Hamilton Gardens Summer Festival and Brighton Fringe Festival. The soprano part in Lewis’s score for the 2009 BBC TV documentary “Napoli, City of the Damned” was written for Sharon Elizabeth, as were the vocal parts in “Legends of Rotorua” and “Jazz at the Movies,” and together they have recorded a CD of popular songs from the 1920s/30s and cabaret songs by Lewis from Sharon Elizabeth’s one-woman show “Forget-Me-Not.”