Composer/pianist Richard Rodney Bennett dies

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“I hated teaching composition. I was playing music I didn’t particularly want to play, being on committees I didn’t want to be on. I wanted to write music, and cook, and play cards, and have a nice time,” The Guardian quoted him as saying.

In New York he indulged his passion for jazz, accompanying singer Claire Martin in shows at the Algonquin Hotel and drawing praise from The New York Times as “a sensitive, truly intimate collaborator.”

He helped Paul McCartney with his orchestral work “Standing Stone,” commenting on sections faxed by the former Beatle.

“I sent him one, thinking it was pretty good,” McCartney said. “A few minutes later, I got a fax back with the word `feeble’ scribbled across it.

“I phoned him straight back and said, `Richard, that’s what my teacher wrote on my essays. You’re a sensitive artist, and if you don’t like something, could you please write, `That’s a little below par?’”

Bennett coached Elizabeth Taylor to sing a nursery rhyme for the film “Secret Ceremony,” for which he wrote the musical score. Prince Charles commissioned Bennett in 2005 to write “Reflection on a Scottish Folk Song” in honor of the prince’s grandmother, Queen Mother Elizabeth.

Bennett was knighted in 1998. Funeral details were not announced.

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