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Stanley Black

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Stanleyblack

Stanley Black (1913-2002) was an English conductor, composer, and musical arranger. He conducted London's National Philharmonic Orchestra for the 1982 Sesame Street album Big Bird presents Hans Christian Andersen and arranged all of the music.

After a time as a working pianist, Stanley Black led the BBC Dance Orchestra on radio from 1944 until 1952. In addition to various band spots and musical series, Black was the resident maestro on the full spectrum of light entertainment programs, from quiz shows to the comedies Ray's a Laugh, Much Binding In the Marsh, and the first two series of The Goon Show (for which Black composed the theme music). Black became conductor and arranger for Decca Records. His extensive output included several albums of Gershwin music, Hollywood and Broadway tunes, classical selections by the likes of Prokofiev and Grieg, and backing Ethel Merman on 1974's Merman Sings Merman.

As a film composer, Black was most active in the 1950s and 60s. He scored the Peter Sellers comedies The Naked Truth and The Battle of the Sexes, historical murder flicks Jack the Ripper and The Flesh and the Fiends (with Billie Whitelaw), City in the Sea (with Vincent Price), and two vehicles for pop singer Cliff Richard. He also wrote the theme for the UK Pathé Newsreels. In 1977, he scored Ken Russell's Valentino (starring Rudolf Nureyev).

On television, Black conducted assorted specials, variety shows, and had his own 1950s series That Old Black Magic, showcasing his piano skills. Back on BBC radio, Black had his own 1981 showcase The Magic of Stanley Black (joined by the National Philharmonic and John McCarthy Singers, who he would work with again on the next year's Big Bird album). From 1972 until 1995, he conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra in many installments of the Radio Two series Friday Night Is Music Night. A 2013 Friday Night broadcast celebrated Black's centenary, noting the fact that his arrangements remained in use on the program.

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