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The Norfolk man who wrote THAT Champions League tune

PUBLISHED: 13:15 31 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:44 31 May 2019

Tony Britten, composer of the Champions League theme tune. Picture: Archant

Tony Britten, composer of the Champions League theme tune. Picture: Archant

Archant Norfolk 2013

It took him "a matter of days" to write, but it is arguably one of the most famous pieces of music in the world.

Tony Britten, composer of the Champions League theme tune. His original score for the piece of music.
 PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYTony Britten, composer of the Champions League theme tune. His original score for the piece of music. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

And today Norfolk composer, film producer and director Tony Britten will be one of up to 200m people who will hear it again.

For Mr Britten, from Thornage, near Holt, is the man who composed and arranged the Champions League anthem, which was first played 27 years ago at the launch of the competition.

And every time it is played - before qualifiers, matches, draws, during adverts - he gets money.

He said: "I get royalties, although how much depends on where it is played.

"I have done all right from it. It's not been a fortune and I don't know exactly how much I've made from it, but it has enabled me to make a few films."

Mr Britten said he felt "proud" when he heard it: "I'm pleased with it, and with what I came up with. I was very busy at the time I wrote it, and I was doing lots of other stuff. It was just one more job in a way.

"The whole thing was quite swift, and it took me a matter of days to write it. Uefa are quite at liberty to change it for the Champions League, but I've been told that it's the most popular sporting theme ever."

While he lives in Norfolk, Mr Britten is currently in London, and plans to watch the Liverpool versus Spurs game, which starts at 8pm, at a local pub.

Tony Britten, composer of the Champions League theme tune. His original score for the piece of music.
 PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYTony Britten, composer of the Champions League theme tune. His original score for the piece of music. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

He added: "I have not got BT Sport so I will watch it in the local pub. I would like Spurs to win, as they are a London club, but I think Liverpool have the slight edge. But who would have thought either team would reach the final after being 3-0 down in the semi-finals?"

He said the barman at the pub knew he wrote the music, so there would probably be a bit of banter beforehand.

But he added: "I tend to keep quiet about it. If I told everyone I wrote it, whenever I hear it, most people would probably not believe me. I'm sure it will be played very loudly in Madrid, the venue for the match, on Saturday night."

The whole process of composing the song started in 1992, when Mr Britten and his commercials agent were contacted by Uefa's PR group Team Marketing to come up with an anthem for the tournament that was set to replace the European Cup.

Tony Britten, composer of the Champions League theme tune. His original score for the piece of music.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYTony Britten, composer of the Champions League theme tune. His original score for the piece of music. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

He said: "All they thought they wanted was something classical that would reflect the class of the competition.

"This was just after the Three Tenors were so popular and classical music was big. They didn't want solos, so we sent them some choral anthems and they came back and said they liked Zadok the Priest by Handel.

"There's a rising string element that I've taken from that, although the remainder is my own work. I said they needed superlatives, so I sat and wrote a list and had it translated into the other two official Uefa languages, French and German."

The piece was performed by London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and sung by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chorus.

Mr Britten, whose previous work includes conducting the music for the film Robocop and the 1980s TV drama Lace, said he was keeping busy.

He added: "My company, Capriol Films in Holt, made a film about Hitler's emigres, Through Lotte's Lens, and we've been selling that.

"I've been doing a lot of composing for the London Chamber Orchestra. And I've written the evening canticles which will be performed at Norwich Cathedral on July 3. I started off as a boy chorister at Trinity Boys Choir in Croydon.

"I have also started an arts channel online, which I curate. Called the Arts Channel, it's video on demand. I bought a new James Ellroy film for that."

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