Who is Patrick Doyle?

Patrick Doyle is an Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated composer who has scored dozens of critically acclaimed films, among them Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Murder On The Orient Express, Gosford Park, Brave, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and many more.

Patrick is also one of the 12 composers who have been specially commissioned to write a new piece of music for the Coronation of King Charles.

How old is Patrick Doyle?

Doyle was born to a large family of 13 in the small Scottish town of Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, on 6 April 1953.

How did he get into music?

Born into a musical family - his father was an opera-loving tenor who idolised John McCormack - he started picking out tunes on a glockenspiel as a child. Aged 12, he started taking piano lessons at school, making swift progress until, at 18, he auditioned, and was accepted, to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama to study singing, piano, tuba, harmony, and counterpoint.

So that’s when he devoted himself to composing?

Not entirely. He was also interested in drama, and while studying at the RSAMD he saw virtually every play that the drama students performed there. After graduating, he began his career as an actor, appearing in the premiere of John Byrne's play The Slab Boys in 1978, as well as in shows at the Edinburgh Festival. He even featured in the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire in 1981, playing Jimmie.

When did Patrick Doyle become a composer?

In 1987 he joined the Renaissance Theatre Company, founded by Kenneth Branagh. Doyle initially joined as an actor, composer and music director, but it soon became clear just how much of a talent he had for composing. He wrote the incidental music for many of the group's Shakespeare plays including Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It, as well as the TV adaptation of Twelfth Night in 1987.

What was Patrick Doyle's first film score?

Patrick Doyle's film score debut came in 1989, with Kenneth Branagh’s highly acclaimed adaptation of Henry V, which starred Branagh in the title role, alongside Derek Jacobi, Judi Dench, Emma Thompson and Robbie Coltrane.

It was the beginning of a long working relationship and friendship with Branagh, that would result in many more film scores - not least Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), Thor (2011) and Cinderella (2015).

On his collaborations with Branagh, Doyle says: ‘The way we worked on Henry V was exactly the same way we worked on Cinderella. Ken is very passionate about everything he works on, very clear and concise, detailed, articulate, unpretentious, and always gives me such scope to do my own thing - he’s very hands off.’

How would you describe Doyle’s style?

Doyle is such a musical chameleon that it’s hard to pinpoint his style: he has embraced Rock and Roll (Thor), minimalism (Wargnier’s French film La Ligne Droite) and dance music (Jig). He has explored African-influenced rhythms (Planet of the Apes), Indian Ragas (A Little Princess) and the music of his own native Scotland (Brave). But if you had to identify one unifying feature of his work, it would probably have to be his flair for lyricism.

Does he compose anything other than film, TV and play scores?

Yes, Doyle has composed several concert pieces, among them ‘The Thistle and the Rose,’ a song cycle commissioned by Prince Charles in honour of the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday, produced by George Martin and premiered at Buckingham Palace in 1990.

What has Doyle composed for the coronation of King Charles III?

He is composing the King Charles III Coronation March - following in the footsteps of composers such as Edward Elgar and William Walton.

Composed to celebrate the life of His Majesty, the March will commence with a bold, heraldic opening, which is ceremonial and full of pageantry. The following section moves forward at pace, reflecting the passing of time, and carrying a strong Celtic influence.

The third part of the March is joyous, before a romantic and reflective sequence which will build to a triumphant finale. Speaking about the March, Patrick Doyle said: 'The composition can be described as an Overture March in that it tells a story, and at times reflects aspects of His Majesty’s own character. Overall, the piece is jubilant and uplifting. It is written to embrace the excitement and celebration of the historic day.'


Hannah Nepilova is a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine. She has also written for The Financial Times, The Times, The Strad, Gramophone, Opera Now, Opera, the BBC Proms and the Philharmonia, and runs The Cusp, an online magazine exploring the boundaries between art forms. Born to Czech parents, she has a strong interest in Czech music and culture.