Jewish Legacy Week: Gerald Crossman

May 18, 2016

And the band played on…

Obituary: Gerald Crossman (1920-2014)

Gerald Crossman was born in London in 1920 and came to prominence in the late 1930’s for his involvement in the music world.

He came from a musical family and played the piano accordion, piano and organ. His cousins were clarinet/saxophonist Joe Crossman and guitarist Sid Jacobsen and Jock Jacobsen.

Gerald started his career teaching piano and accordion. By the late 1930’s he was already a professional musician and had played several seasons in various hotels and had appeared as a solo accordion act in charity concerts at several West End theatres. In 1938 he made his first recording with musical direction by George Scott-Wood.

In 1940, with the war going on, Gerald joined the RAF where he also became a musical director for ENSA. He finished the war stationed in India.

After the war Gerald became more involved in music, playing both the piano and accordion. This included concerts, radio broadcasts, recordings, studio session work, composing for works such as A Night in Montmartre, Granada Mia and Marcha Espagnol and film music recording for both the BBC and ITV. Through the 1950’s he performed on various BBC radio shows including Morning Music and Music While You Work. He also had involvement in the British movie industry, composing and playing music for many films including Tommy Steele’s Tommy the Toreador and was the pianist on the sound version of Chaplin’s 1923 film The Pilgrim. His work included publishing over two hundred articles in various music/accordion publications.

During his lifetime of work, Gerald played alongside many showbiz greats including Charlie Chaplin, Lou Praeger, Morecombe & Wise, Sir Ralph Richardson, Roy Castle, Bob Monkhouse and even Marlene Dietrich for whom he provided music accompaniment.

Gerald married Miriam Offner in 1968. They had no children, but were ‘adopted’ by various families of their synagogue in Highgate. The hospitality and friendship deepened after Gerald was widowed in February 2013, although he passed away just 18 months later at the age of 94. He left his estate to 15 Jewish and non-Jewish charities – including UJIA – whose work will benefit from his philanthropy, hard work and financial prudence. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. May his memory be for a blessing.


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