John Altman is a British film composer, music arranger, orchestrator and conductor.
He studied English and American Literature at Sussex, graduating in 1968. Commencing his recording and live career as an in-demand saxophonist in the late 60s, he has performed with all the major figures in music over the last few decades, including Eric Clapton, Sting, Jimmy Page, Little Richard, Prince and Van Morrison.
He has also found great success as an arranger/conductor, having arranged records such as Walking in the Air by Aled Jones, It’s Oh So Quiet by Bjork and, most famously, he helped create Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life with Eric Idle.
He is also a frequent guest conductor for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and serves on the board of ASMAC (the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers), and as a member of the governing Council of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).
He has had a parallel successful career as a composer/arranger/ producer for films and television, and has been awarded an EMMY and an ASCAP Film Award for RKO 281 – The Making of Citizen Kane, the Anthony Asquith Award (BAFTA) for Hear My Song, and received an Oscar mention for the period music he arranged for Titanic.
Among many honours, he has been awarded the prestigious Gold Badge of Excellence, the lifetime achievement award of the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, and also received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Monaco Film Festival.
He is also a prolific composer of music for commercials, having scored over 4,000 worldwide, and has been named by Campaign magazine in 2002 as one of the 100 most influential figures in contemporary British advertising, and in 2005 as one of the 5 top composers.
John is also a highly accomplished jazz musician, and leads a successful big band, performing at jazz festivals worldwide.
During 2008-9, he was the first ever Creative Arts Fellow, in the former School of Humanities at Sussex, giving a series of film composition masterclasses to music students.
He has also deposited his extensive jazz recordings archive with the University, giving Sussex an invaluable music research resource.