Philip Green was born in 1911, and he started to learn the piano at the age of seven. He won a scholarship to London's Trinity College of Music when aged only thirteen, where he studied many areas of music including theory, harmony, orchestration and composition. He completed his studies by the age of eighteen, and began his professional career playing in various orchestras. Within a year he became London's youngest West End conductor at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
His long recording career began with EMI in 1933, and during the following years he directed and played piano and harpsichord on 78s with many leading bands, including Teddy Foster, Henry Jacques, The New Mayfair Dance Orchestra, Harry Roy and Jack Simpson - as well as lesser-known ensembles with intriguing titles such as The Bravour Dance Orchestra, The Celestial Beings and The Bunkhouse Boys. However the vast majority of his numerous pre-war records had his own name on the label, directing diverse groups like The Seven Kings of Rhythm, Busketeers, Swing on Strings, Rhythm on Reeds and Don Miguel and his Cuban Music (one of his many pseudonyms, some others being Louise Duke, Jose Belmonte, Ricardo Lamarr and Don Felipe). During the Second World War he made numerous sides for Decca's 'Music While You Work' series. From 1935 to 1939 Philip Green was closely associated with the commercial radio programmes which were beamed towards Britain from the continent of Europe - sometimes as many as seventeen broadcasts a week. Clearly his later reputation as a workaholic had its roots very early in his career. The commercial stations were forced to close down during the war, so he transferred his allegiance to the BBC, where he was responsible for several popular shows including "Salute to Rhythm", "Band Call", "Cuban Caballeros" and "Music Society for Lower Basin Street".
For several years he was a 'house arranger/conductor' at Decca, accompanying many of their star vocalists such as Gracie Fields, Denny Dennis, Donald Peers and Anne Shelton. From the mid-1940s onwards he was responsible for more than 150 film scores, some of the best remembered being: "Romance" featured in "The Magic Bow" (1946), "Saints and Sinners" (1948), "Man on the Run" (1949), "Ha'penny Breeze" (1950), "Young Wives' Tale" (1951), Isn't Life Wonderful" (1952), "The Yellow Balloon" (1952), "Park Plaza 605" (1953), "Conflict of Wings" (1954), "One Good Turn" (1954), "John and Julie" (1954), "The March Hare" (1956), "Carry on Admiral" (1957), "Sea Fury" (1958), "The Square Peg" (1958), "Violent Playground" (1958), "Operation Amsterdam" (1959), "Sapphire" (1959), "Make Mine Mink" (1960), "The League of Gentlemen" (1960), "The Singer Not The Song" (1961). "Victim" (1961), "Tiara Tahiti" (1962), "A Stitch in Time" (1963), "Masquerade" (1964), "The Intelligence Men" (1965) and "The Yellow Hat" (1967). Green's themes for "John and Julie" and "The March Hare" both won Ivor Novello Awards.
Such was his prestige in the British film industry that Philip Green was eventually appointed resident musical director of the Rank Organisation. All this work for the cinema was being achieved at the same time as he was making the occasional commercial recordings, and also composing numerous pieces of mood music for major London publishers including Chappell & Co., Francis Day & Hunter, Paxton and EMI's Photoplay Music, where he ultimately became the only contributor to the catalogue.
His radio and television credits were numerous: the BBC's early TV feature "Picture Page" used his "Shopping Centre" (resulting in a commercial recording by Charles Williams), and one of the Light Programme's most popular comedies "Meet the Huggetts" featured "Horse Feathers" as its signature tune - both these numbers originated from the Chappell Recorded Music Library. Two ITV shows "Ghost Squad" and "The Golden Shot" had Philip Green themes.
Philip Green was not as prolific in the commercial recording studios compared with some of his peers (he was too busy on other projects), but his post-war single releases included ten 78s for MGM, and similar numbers for Decca, Columbia, Parlophone and Top Rank. In addition he arranged and conduct several memorable LP albums including: "Moments in Mayfair", "Follow The Sun" and "Pan-American Panorama" (for EMI Columbia); "Wings of Song" (Top Rank); and tributes to great song-writers such as Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin (for RCA).
Towards the end of his career he moved to Ireland, where he developed his interest in music with a religious theme. Two which he regarded with particular pride were "St Patrick's" and "Children's Masses for Choir and Orchestra". Philip Green died late in 1982 in Dublin, following a long illness; his widow Dorothy died in 1995.
Both of them are remembered today through the Philip and Dorothy Green Music Trust which, in July 2002, awarded Making Music, the National Federation of Music Societies, the largest single donation in its 65-year history, in the form of a gift of £310,000. This was granted to secure for the future the Making Music Award for Young Concert Artists and to set up a new Composer in Residence scheme for Making Music. The gift was accompanied by a proportion of the annual composer royalties accruing to the Philip and Dorothy Green estate.
David Ades (August 2003)