The Works of

BERNARD J. TAYLOR

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Bernard J. Taylor, composer

Bernard J. Taylor's first musical, Neighbours and Lovers, was produced at the Oast Theatre, Tonbridge, UK, in 1987. The production received rave reviews in the press and the music was described as "stunning" and "dazzling" by The Stage.

His next project was Wuthering Heights, based on the classic novel by Emily Brontë. Taylor's adaptation enjoyed the rare distinction of an endorsement from the Brontë Society and some of the music was recorded and released by Silva Screen Records at the beginning of 1992. It  was recorded in 1992 with the then Phantom of the Opera star Dave Willetts (who took over from Michael Crawford) and Britain's foremost operatic soprano Lesley Garrett, the star of the English National Opera. Soon after its release the Theatre Division, consisting of Andrew Lloyd Webber's former management team - headed by Biddy Hayward and Prince Edward - got behind the musical, but the show became snared in a legal wrangle with the record company for a few years.  Meanwhile the Theatre Division went into bankruptcy. Although it did not go onto the West End or Broadway, there have been big productions of the show in Eastern Europe and touring productions in Australia and Holland, as well as various productions by regional theatre companies around the world.  It is Taylor's most performed work after Pride and Prejudice. Dave Willetts (star of the West End production of "Phantom of the Opera") sang Heathcliff, leading British soprano Lesley Garrett performed  as Cathy, and Bonnie Langford sang the role of Isabella. The recording received wide acclaim, and the music was described on BBC Radio by Herbert Kretzmer (lyricist for "Les Miserables") as "having the breadth and sweep of a great novel" and a "romantic intensity not heard since the heyday of Novello". Two of the songs from the recording ­ "He's Gone" and "I Belong To The Earth" ­ were featured on The Lesley Garrett Album which topped the classic charts in Britain at the beginning of 1994, and another four songs were featured on her "Soprano In Love", which went to number three in the classics charts in Britain shortly after its release in 1998. A try-out production of Wuthering Heights took place in Holland at the beginning of 1994,  receiving nightly standing ovations and excellent reviews. There have been subsequent productions in numerous countries.

 

Bernard with Claire Moore

His third musical, Success! (now Make Me a Musical), took the form of a "backstage musical" loosely based on the Faust story and was a radical departure from the neo-classical style of Wuthering Heights. The show has a predominantly jazz/swing score with a Latin flavour, reflecting the story's contemporary setting. A recording, featuring Claire Moore and Lon Satton, was released by First Stage Records in mid-1993. A try-out production of Success! by Star Productions took place in September, 1995, at the Civic Centre, Rotherham, where it received standing ovations and a rave review in the local Press.

While working on the Success! album with Claire Moore (described by Impressions Magazine in 1993 as "the greatest singer on the British musical stage today"), he wrote some individual songs for her and these songs were released as her debut solo album,  Child of the Earth.

Claire Moore featured again on the recording of his next stage musical, Pride and Prejudice,  based on Jane Austen's novel. The recording which also features West End stars Peter Karrie, Gay Soper, Christopher Biggins, James Staddon and Janet Mooney was released on the Dress Circle label in the middle of 1994 and the show was tried out at the Madison Theatre, Peoria, Illinois, USA, in January, 1995, by the Public Theatre Company. The production received standing ovations at every performance during its two-week run (a rare occurrence in Peoria) and was the company's biggest success to date in terms of bookings and audience response (until the same company staged the world premiere of Nosferatu the Vampire in September 1995, which was even more successful). There have been over 30 productions of Pride and Prejudice to date in various countries.

In September, 1994, he recorded his first purely symphonic work, the Millennium Suite with the Polish State Philharmonic Orchestra. The recording was released in May, 1995. Reviews were quite positive.

In March, 1995, he released a recording of his first through-sung musical, Nosferatu The Vampire, based on Bram Stoker's Dracula. The recording featured Peter Karrie as Nosferatu, Claire Moore as Mina, Barry James as Renfeld, Mario Frangoulis as Jonathan Harker and Mark Wynter as Van Helsing. For three months after its release it was the top selling album at Dress Circle, the world's leading retail outlet for show albums.

The world premiere stage production of Nosferatu was presented at the Madison Theatre, Illinois, USA, in September 1995, and the European premiere followed a month later at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre in Eastbourne, England. Both productions received rave reviews and the American production was named the best local production of the year by the Illinois Journal Star.

In July, 1995, a recording of his musical, Much Ado (based on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing) was released on the Dress Circle label, featuring Paul McGann as Benedick, Claire Moore as Beatrice, Barry James as Leonato, Simon Burke as Claudio, Janet Mooney as Hero and David Pendlebury as Dogberry.

In 1998 he began work on Liberty!, a stirring musical based on the siege of the Alamo in 1836, which had its debut in San Antonio in 1999. The two-CD recording features an international cast of singers.

In 2014 he received a Diploma of Fellowship from the Victoria College of Music and Drama in London, England. 

For information about his musicals, see the Musicals page.
For information about his other compositions, see the Other Music page.
For information about his CDs, see the CDs page.

 

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