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Wicked and Miss Saigon orchestrator William David Brohn dies at 84

Cameron Mackintosh has said 'his glorious orchestrations remain timeless'

William David Brohn
© Catherine Ashmore

The theatre orchestrator William David Brohn has died.

Known for his work on musicals including Wicked, Miss Saigon and Ragtime, he passed away yesterday aged 84.

Brohn began as a conductor for the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago in the '60s, before focusing on scores for ballets across the world.

In the '80s, Brohn began collaborating with Cameron Mackintosh, working on shows such as Carousel and Oaklahoma. In more recent times, the pair collaborated on Mary Poppins, Barnum and Half a Sixpence.

In 1998, he won the Tony Award for Best Orchestrations for Ragtime.

Speaking about Brohn, Mackintosh said: "Bill Brohn blew into my life 30 years ago when I was preparing Miss Saigon and we immediately became close friends and musical collaborators on many of my productions.

"His spirit was as extraordinary as his prodigious musical talents and his ability to use individual instruments as characters in a score elevated his orchestrations to the highest level of musical art. He was also one of the kindest and most humble human beings I've ever known.

"We will all miss him terribly as he has enriched the lives of everyone who has known him both on and off the stage. Half a Sixpence was the final score he orchestrated last year and it had all the unstoppable vigour, joy and invention of a 20 year old. His pen may have finally been put to rest, but his glorious orchestrations remain timeless and like his memory, will lift our spirits forever."

Besides, Saigon, Brohn also worked on the Claude-Michel Schönberg scores Martin Guerre and Wuthering Heights, the latter of which recently toured the UK with Northern Ballet. He also collaborated with artists such as singer Placido Domingo and Marilyn Horne, choreographers Agnes de Mille, Kenneth Macmillan, and Matthew Bourne and the violinist Joshua Bell.