Steve Race

Steve Race
Steve Race
Born Stephen Russell Race
1 April 1921
Lincoln, England
Died 22 June 2009 (aged 88)
Nationality British
Occupation radio personality, pianist, composer
Spouse 1) Marjorie Leng (d. 1969)
2) Leonie Mather

Stephen Russell Race[1] OBE (1 April 1921 – 22 June 2009[2]) was a British composer, pianist and radio and television presenter.



Born in Lincoln, the son of a lawyer, Race learned the piano from the age of five.[3] He was educated (1932–37) at Lincoln School, where he formed his first jazz band, which included a young Neville Marriner, later a major figure in the world of classical music. At sixteen, he attended the Royal Academy of Music, studying composition under Harry Farjeon and William Alwyn.

Early career

He joined the Royal Air Force in 1941, and formed a jazz/dance band quintet. After World War II he began a long and productive career with the BBC, where his ready wit, musicianship and broad musical knowledge made him much sought after as a musical accompanist for panel games and magazine shows, such as Whirligig and Many a Slip. In 1949 his jazz group recorded the first British bebop records.


From the 1950s to the 1980s he presented countless music programmes on radio and television. Additionally, in 1955, he was appointed the first Light Music Advisor to the early independent television company Associated-Rediffusion. He is probably best known as the chairman of the long-running light-hearted radio and TV panel game My Music from 1967 to 1994. He presented and wrote most of the questions for all 520 episodes broadcast. Away from music, for two years from 1970 Race co-presented (with William Hardcastle) the BBC Radio 4 "drive-time" news magazine PM.


As a composer, he produced a number of pieces in the classical, jazz and popular idioms. It is likely that the composer of light Latin American dance tunes known as "Esteban Cera" was Steve hiding behind a subtle pseudonym. One of his better-known compositions is the short melodic piano instrumental "Nicola" (named after his daughter). His catchy "Pied Piper (The Beeje)" was also popular and reached #29 in the UK Singles Chart in March 1963,[4] but his best-known and, according to his autobiography, his most lucrative composition is his music for the Birds Eye frozen peas jingle, "Sweet as the moment when the pod went pop".

His autobiography, Musician at Large, was published in 1979, and in 1988 Souvenir Press Ltd published Race's book about his Grandfather's short but interesting life, from lead miner to missionary, entitled "The Two Worlds of Joseph Race"

Race was survived by his second wife and daughter from his first marriage.



  1. ^ "Berkshire Life". Berkshire Life. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  2. ^ "Steve Race - Telegraph". London: Daily Telegraph. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  3. ^ Spencer Leigh "Steve Race: Musician and broadcaster best known for his association with the programme 'My Music'", The Independent, 24 June 2009
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 447. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  • Race, Steve (June 1979). Musician at Large. Methuen. ISBN 0413397408. 

External links

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