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Thanks to Basta Records, Roger Roger is now known to more than a tiny handful of production music fans. One of the most prolific composers of popular music, Roger received very little acclaim for his work because much of it was "stock music" written for publishers like Chappell Music, which provided most of their product for largely uncredited use in radio, television, and film.
Roger's double name was a private joke by his father, Edmund Roger, a conductor who'd studied alongside Debussy at the Paris Conservatoire. His father had no doubts about his son's future and by the age of five, Roger was studying piano, composition, voice, and conducting. Roger began performing at while still in his teens and was leading his own dance band by the age of 18.
He swayed from his father's intended path, though, by becoming fascinated with popular music. He subscribed to a sheet music service from American and pored over tunes by Gershwin, Kern, and Cole Porter. He started leading a large orchestra for French radio after World War Two, and appeared in Paris theaters accompanying such singers as Maurice Chevalier and Edith Piaf.
In 1955, Chappell Music hired him to write for their Mood Music library, and he eventually wrote and recorded nearly 20 albums for Chappell. Some of these pieces were used in the BBC's Trade Test Transmissions, and became favorites of fans of what's known as "Test Card" music. Compositions such as "Bolero," "Laissez-Faire," "Reine de Musette," and "Mademoiselle de Paris" were regularly used in these broadcasts. He also composed for the Canadian production publisher Parry Publishing and the American Major Mood Music library, often taking the pseudonym of Cecil Leuter.
Roger also continued to write for French radio, and later, television. By the time he retired in the mid-1970s, he claimed to have written for over 50 radio productions, nearly as many television shows, and to have had music used in over 500 films. A piece he wrote for an appearance by then-French president Rene Coty, "Versailles," has since become the signature theme for French presidents whenever they appear on Radio-diffusion-Television Francaise.
A number of his compositions were used for the soundtrack of the legendary British television series, "The Prisoner," including a "Toccata" for organ that was performed live in Paris as part of a classical concert.
He had a smattering of recordings released in the U.K. and U.S. under his own name, but it was not until 1976, when he recorded Tourbillon de Paris, playing his own compositions on a set of three synthesizers, that he really stood out as a recording artist. Unfortunately, the era of mood music had past and the album was soon forgotten.
In 1994, Dutch musicologist and leader of the Beau Hunks Orchestra, Gert-Jan Blom, produced the CD Grands Travaux, which compiled over a dozen Roger compositions from various sources, and brought his work to the attention of a new generation of listeners.
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