Obituary: British Composer and Writer Kit Hesketh-Harvey Dies, Aged 65

By Logan Martell

On Feb. 1, 2023, British composer and writer Kit Hesketh-Harvey passed away at the age of 65.

Born on April 30, 1957, in Zomba, Malawi, Hesketh-Harvey was a senior chorister at Canterbury Cathedral before going on to attend Clare College, Cambridge on a choral scholarship. From 1980 to 1987 he was a staff producer for the BBC-TV Music and Arts Department, leaving to write the script for Merchant Ivory’s film “Maurice.” A year later, he studied with Stephen Sondheim as a result of winning the Vivian Ellis Award for musical-theatre writers. Hesketh-Harvey would perform as part of a musical comedy duo with pianist Richard Sisson, called Kit and The Widow, over the next 30 years, going on a number of theater runs on Broadway and West End, as well as international tours.

Among his musicals are “Writing Orlando” and “Yusupov,” which came in partnership with composer James McConnel. He has adapted such works as Offenbach’s “Le Belle Helene” for English National Opera, with his translation of “The Bartered Bride” for the Royal Opera House being nominated for a Grammy award. His translation of “The Merry Widow” was used in Opera North’s 2010-11 season and in the Sydney Opera House in July 2011.

He is survived by his two children, Augusta and Rollo.