Born in Edgware, Middlesex, as Gordon Maris Colman, he graduated from London’s Royal Academy of Music, where his piano teacher, Moran Demuth, suggested that he write under a pseudonym; he therefore adopted the professional name of Gordon Colman Langford.
He became a highly respected composer of light orchestral music and was famous within the Brass Band world for his compositions and arrangements for that genre. His experience as a trombonist must have enormously assisted him in this respect. He wrote a Trombone Concerto for Don Lusher, and a Sinfonietta for Brass Band, which became the signature tune for the BBC tv series Best of Brass. He acted as an adjudicator for a number of major brass band events.
Gordon Langford’s compositions were regularly featured to accompany BBC Television ‘Test Card’ transmissions, whilst he also arranged many of the songs performed by the Kings Singers. In 1971, he won an Ivor Novello award for his ‘March from the Colour Suite’.
As a performer, he often appeared on BBC Radio broadcasts, sometimes with his own trio / quartet on Morning Music and Breakfast Special. He was the regular pianist with Lew Stone and his band, Eddie Strevens and his quartet and Ken Beaumont and his sextet. He played for Lou Whiteson and his Southern Serenaders and undertook most of the arrangements for that ensemble from the 60s onwards. In 1983, Gordon Langford directed his own sextet in the ‘revival’ of Music While You Work.
He was a long-standing member of the Light Music Society, attending many of their monthly London meetings during the 60s.
I had the good fortune to meet Gordon twice. The first time was sometime in the late 60s / early 70s, when at a private party held at a house in North London, he, along with a couple of friends, formed animpromptu trio and had all the guests enthralled with his piano playing. As a jazz performer, he was very much in the Dudley Moore mould, and was absolutely brilliant at ‘quoting’, i.e weaving fragments of totally different tunes into the piece upon which he was doing the jazz improvisations.
The second occasion was at a luncheon of the ‘Coda Club’, when Bob Farnon was honoured with an award for his services to music and a number of members of Robert Farnon Society were invited along to cheer-on the ‘Guv’nor’ . I found myself sitting next to Gordon and reminded him of that party all those years previously. He was affable, courteous, a real gentleman and very modest about his own achievements. It was a real pleasure to have re- made his acquaintance.
He had by then moved from London to East Devon, where he very much enjoyed being involved with the preserved Seaton Tramway. During the last few years, failing health precluded his hitherto regular forays back to the capital. In 2011, Gordon Langford was nominated for a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music (FRAM) by the Governing Body of the Academy.
© Tony Clayden
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