Eric CoatesEnglish Born 27 Aug 1886 Died 23 Dec 1957
Eric Coates was born in Hucknall in Nottinghamshire and studied music at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1906, receiving viola lessons from Lionel Tertis. From 1910 he played in the Queen's Hall Orchestra, becoming principal violist in 1912. However, after being forced to give up the viola for medical reasons, by the end of the 1910s he was concentrating entirely on composition. He had an early success with the overture The Merrymakers (1922), but more popular was the London Suite (1933).
Coates' music, with its simple and memorable melodies, proved particularly effective for theme music, the BBC used Calling All Workers (1940) as the theme for the radio programme Music While You Work and By the Sleepy Lagoon (1930) is still used to introduce the long-running radio programme Desert Island Discs. Coates' "Halcyon Days", the first movement of the suite The Three Elizabeths, was used as the theme to the popular 1967 BBC TV series The Forsyte Saga, although he received no credit. This piece was originally written in the early 1940s. It was later used as a celebration of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It has had a recent resurgence in popularity, featuring on a number of CDs.