Frankel, Benjamin, English composer; b. London, Jan. 31, 1906; d. there, Feb. 12, 1973. He worked as an apprentice watchmaker in his youth, then went to Germany to study music. Returning to London, he earned his living by playing piano or violin in restaurants. It was only then that he began studying composition seriously. In the interim, he made arrangements, played in jazz bands, and wrote music for films; some of his film scores, such as that for The Man in the White Suit, are notable for their finesse in musical characterization. In 1946 he was appointed to the faculty of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Frankel also took great interest in political affairs; was for many years a member of the British Communist Party and followed the tenets of socialist realism in some of his compositions.
DRAMATIC Opera : Marching Son (1972–73). ORCH.: Violin Concerto (1951; Stockholm, June 10, 1956); 8 syms.: No. 1 (1952), No. 2 (Cheltenham, July 13, 1962), No. 3 (1964), No. 4 (London, Dec. 18, 1966), No. 5 (1967), No. 6 (London, March 23, 1969), No. 7 (1969; London, June 4, 1970), and No. 8 (1971); Concertante Lirico for Strings (1953); Serenata concertante for Piano Trio and Orch. (1961); Viola Concerto (1966); A Catalogue of Incidents for Chamber Orch. (1966); Overture for a Ceremony (1970); Pezzi melodici (Stroud Festival, Oct. 19, 1972). CHAMBER: 5 string quartets (1944,1945,1947, 1948, 1965); String Trio (1944); 2 sonatas for Solo Violin (1944, 1962); 3 Poems for Cello and Piano (1950); Quintet for Clarinet and Strings (1953); Piano Quartet (1953); Bagatelles for 11 Instruments (1959); Pezzi pianissimi for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano (1964). VOCAL: The Aftermath for Tenor, Trumpet, Harp, and Strings (1947); 8 Songs for Medium Voice and Piano (1959).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire