Francis Chagrin

Francis Chagrin (born Alexander Paucker, 15 November 1905 – 10 November 1972),[1][2] was a composer of film scores and popular orchestral music, as well as a conductor. He was also the "organizer and chief moving spirit" who founded the Society for the Promotion of New Music.[3]

Francis Chagrin
Alexander Paucker

(1905-11-15)November 15, 1905
DiedNovember 10, 1972(1972-11-10) (aged 66)


He was born in Bucharest, Romania,[4] to Jewish parents and at their insistence studied for an engineering degree in Zurich while secretly studying at that city’s music conservatoire. He graduated in 1928 but when his family failed to support his musical ambitions, left home and moved to Paris where he adopted his new, French-sounding name.[1]

By playing in nightclubs and cafes and writing popular songs, he funded himself though two years, from 1933, at the Ecole Normale, where his teachers included Paul Dukas and Nadia Boulanger, and settled in England in 1936.[1]

At the outbreak of World War II, he was appointed musical adviser and composer-in-chief to the BBC French Service and the programme Les Français parlent aux Français. For this, he was decorated Officier d'Academie by the French government in 1948. He spoke French fluently, as well as perfect English (with a French accent), Romanian and German, and good Italian and Spanish. For a trip to the USSR in October 1966, he studied Russian.[1]

In January 1943 Chagrin founded The Committee for the Promotion of New Music (later renamed Society for the Promotion of New Music) with the intention of promoting the creation, performance and appreciation of new music by young and unestablished composers. Ralph Vaughan Williams agreed to be its president, with Arthur Bliss the committee's vice-president.[3][5]

In 1951 Chagrin formed his own chamber ensemble.[1] He composed the score for the 1955 film about Colditz, The Colditz Story.[6] His harmonica work Roumanian Fantasy was composed in 1956 for Larry Adler.

In 1959 he composed the theme and incidental music for the Sapphire Films TV series The Four Just Men for ITV.

In 1963, he won the Harriet Cohen International Music Award as "film composer of the year".[1] The following year, he composed music for the Doctor Who television episodes The Dalek Invasion of Earth.[1][7]


His sons are the actors Nicolas and Julian Chagrin,[8] husband of actress and comedian Rolanda Chagrin.


Chagrin's work includes 200 film scores, television and commercials.



  • Prelude and Fugue for Orchestra (1947)
  • Piano Concerto (1948)[2]
  • Prelude and Fugue for Two Violins (1950)
  • Roumanian Fantasy (1956)
  • Symphony No 1 (1946–59, rev 1965)
  • Symphony No 2 (1965–71)

Film scores


  1. Francis Chagrin at Chester Novello
  2. Scowcroft, Philip (January 2009). "Francis Chagrin". MusicWeb-International. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  3. Carner, Mosco (October 1945), "The Committee for the Promotion of New Music", The Musical Times: 297, doi:10.2307/934638, JSTOR 934638
  5. Payne, Anthony. "Society for the Promotion of New Music", Grove Music Online, Oxford University Press, retrieved 15 June 2014. (subscription required)
  7. "The Dalek Invasion of Earth". Dr Who guide. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  8. Julian Chagrin profile
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