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Peter Cork

As well as composing music for radio and television, Peter Cork was an inspirational teacher who became a close friend of his most famous pupil, Dudley Moore. When he was a boy, his parents bought him a piano and found him a teacher who quickly recognised his talent.

On visits to the cinema, he became enthralled by orchestral film scores and soon decided he wanted to spend his life writing music. After studying at the Royal College of Music, he began teaching at Dagenham County High School, now the Sydney Russell, in 1950.

There, he helped a young Dudley Moore, later to become an innovative comedian, jazz pianist and movie star, towards an Oxford music scholarship. In Hollywood, Moore wrote a series of entertaining letters to Cork between 1980 and 1994. Five years ago, they were published as Letters from Dudley. Cork also gave encouragement to another Dagenham student, the jazz singer Norma Winstone.

After some time in Australia, he became head of music at Clapham County Girls’ School, where he wrote musicals for the pupils to perform. At the same time, he was composing piano and orchestral suites, exhibiting a talent to which he was able to give his undivided attention once he retired from teaching in 1976.

He worked for the BBC on special commissions and composed a great deal of library music, some of which was used in television dramas. For BBC Radio 3, he worked with the poets Patrick Howarth and James Sutherland Smith, bringing together their verse with his music. In the 1990s, he released a series of CDs of his music.

Peter Cork, who was born in Cambridgeshire on December 14, 1926, died in Folkestone on September 24, aged 85.

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