In this regular Sunday feature, we ask Scots about 10 things that changed their life. This week, award-winning Scottish film composer Patrick Doyle.

1. My upbringing

The National:

WHEN I was young I used to play little harmonies on a glockenspiel. When I was starting primary school at St John’s school in Uddingston we had a piano in the assembly hall – I remember vividly opening up this really heavy lid and recognising that the configuration of the keys were the same as my little glockenspiel, and that I could play this, I could make music on this.

And then the janitor came in and told me to shut the lid! My early music teachers – Eddie Morrison, Inga Marshall and Edith Ferguson – had a huge influence on my life. I have a picture of Edith above my desk at the Shepperton Studios. She opened the world of music to me in many ways.

I was born and brought up in Birkenshaw, Uddingston, and I’m the seventh of 13 children.

My mother and father were fabulous singers, my sisters sang and played, so we were a musical household – and you can imagine noisy with it!

To this day I can sit and write music with a huge amount of noise around me, unless someone is bouncing a ball or doing something with a rhythm. That’s the only thing that stops me.

2. Music at school

The National:

I WAS a member of the Lanarkshire Youth Orchestra and the school brass band. It was hugely important to have music as part of the school day, and I benefited massively from the music tuition I had at the time.

I’m aware of the cutbacks happening at the moment in schools in Scotland in terms of music, and I wish music tuition could be better protected. Music tuition that you receive as part of your education is so important.

Recently I composed the music for a 1927 silent movie, It, and we staged it with youngsters from North and South Lanarkshire, and we performed it at the Town House in Hamilton. It was outstanding. The talent of these young people is phenomenal, I loved this experience, and it reinforced the value of music teaching in schools. There’s so much talent in Scotland. Our country is capable of anything.

3. Getting a place at RSAMD

The National:

I JOINED the junior course and then I was accepted as a senior student at the then Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. This was a huge thing for me, a massive change – I never imagined that I would actually get in. It was phenomenal. I saw every play that was put on there, went to every concert. It was there that I met my wife Lesley who was studying theatre management and costume design. She is an extraordinary person, and has been my muse and mentor all these years.

4. Moving to London

The National:

WHEN we graduated we bought a flat in Yorkhill and I worked as a music teacher at Hillhead High for a year, and then went on to the Citizens Theatre where I was part of a programme taking drama into schools.

I had actually seen one of their plays while I was at school – from one of their groups – so working for them was phenomenal, I felt extremely lucky. I went on to be a writer and a performer, and I suppose that was the plan, I was just going with the flow until The Slab Boys (pictured above) came along. This wonderful John Byrne play was directed by David Hayman and it was a great success. When it went to London we went too.

London was the catalyst for a new life. It was an adventurous time, but also a worrying time – we miraculously managed to make some money selling our Yorkhill flat, and on the strength of that we bought a small house in London.

I really feel for young people trying to get on to the property ladder now, it angers me to this day that young people are priced out of having a home. It was a lot easier then – we got our mortgage when we were essentially on the dole moving down there, but during that time there was a safety net which just isn’t there for people now.

We managed to get jobs fairly quickly, but it was a stressful time.

5. Composing full-time

The National:

AT first in London I was a musician to pay the bills, and I played in bars and restaurants, all the fancy schmanzy places around town. Eventually I met a guy called Kenneth Branagh (pictured above), and I really wanted to focus on my music again. He invited me to be the musical director at his brand new theatre company, the Renaissance Company, and that allowed me to focus solely on composition.

The first thing I worked on was his production of Twelfth Night, and shortly afterwards we went on tour – what a spectacular experience. I got to know Emma Thompson and Judi Denc, and Derek Jacobi. Meeting Ken was a huge seismic change in our lives.

6. Being nominated for an Oscar

The National:

IN 1995, in a 5am phone call, I heard I’d been nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Dramatic Score, for Sense And Sensibility – wow, has there ever been a better call?! Fantastic! Nowadays, the campaigns around films to get nominated are a huge business, but 20 years ago it was much more low key.

I had been out to play a recital of sorts, but for me that was as far as the campaigning for a statue went. The following year I was nominated again for the score for Hamlet.

Going to the Oscars two years in a row was an honour and I’m very grateful for the experience, we really had pure fun, Lesley and I loved every minute of it – getting dressed up, these crazy stretch limos, hanging out with out friends who had been nominated as well.

We ended up at the Beverly Hills Hotel with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman afterwards, kicked off our shoes and had some toast! For all of us to end up in Hollywood from where we had started was pure fun, tying a ribbon on all the hard work.

You have to keep your feet on the ground in this business but it’s lovely to enjoy these moments for what they are. Hollywood is a wonderful, magical circus and it’s great to enjoy it but you shouldn’t take these moments too seriously.

7. Recovering from leukaemia

The National:

AFTER the complete high of 1995 and 1996, when alongside working with Ken I’d been working with Ang Lee, Brian De Palma, Robert Altman, I began to feel really quite unwell.

My gums were bleeding, I had large bruises all over me and I was very tired. It was my dentist who said I should go for some tests with a doctor, but before I got there Lesley had the family health book out and she diagnosed me based on all my symptoms.

It was a terribly frightening time, a very sobering experience. Two things saved me really – firstly, the wonderful NHS treatment at St George’s Hospital in Tooting. I can’t say enough about the NHS, I’m phenomenally grateful for all it does and will always advocate for it. We should fight for it every day.

God forbid we ever have a system like America where people easily, regularly, go bankrupt paying for their health.

And secondly, my family and friends. My wife, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, my relatives were there for me completely, just unbelievable support, especially from my wife who was extraordinary – she was helping me in every way and also looking after our children who were very young.

Once I was recovered, I realised that before my experience with leukaemia I hadn’t known anything about the world of blood disorders, it was a revelation. I wanted to help with some fundraising for research and I staged a huge concert at the Royal Albert Hall, Music From The Movies, with some well-known faces introducing the pieces to help get bums on seats. Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton, Robbie Coltrane and Richard E Grant were some of the people who appeared. I was blessed to have so many friends come to support this concert.

8. Creating new music

The National:

THE reality of composing for film is that it’s a job – the director wants music that’s going to fit the film, and that’s what you have to deliver. I’ve learnt it’s best to ruminate on ideas before hitting the keyboard because good ideas can take some time.

And I never think of the ripples of the work I’m writing. My job is to get the music right for the film, that’s the brief, and you have to do your best work like you would in any job.

I’m there to produce a score, and while I’m writing I don’t think about the music having a life beyond the film in terms of people playing it back for years, or awards or anything like that. The job at hand is all there is.

Being part of Celtic Connections this year is very exciting. I’m genuinely delighted to be in the line-up, it’s a massive honour.

This was the first time Brave has been staged with an orchestra and we’ve been very deep into the rehearsals and getting all the technicalities right, it’s quite a tricky thing to set the score to what is on the screen at precisely the right moment.

9. Composing the Brave soundtrack

The National:

NOT only was Brave an important film, but being a Scot it was special and I really want to make the point that it contained the first Scottish Gaelic song ever composed for a Disney Pixar film, by myself and Patrick Neil. The second point is that the singers at the Celtic Connections concert will sing the songs as in the film with their natural Scottish accents.

10. My children

WE’VE been blessed with four children – Abigail, Nuala, Patrick and Elliot – and I’m so proud and wowed by all of them. They are all doing well: one with a start-up tech company, one works with Simon Cowell, my son Patrick Neil Doyle is also a composer who just won a Scottish Bafta for Nae Pasaran and my younger son Elliot is an editor and involved with music in London. The most important thing is that they are all healthy and happy. We’ve been very lucky.

The world premiere of Brave In Concert took place as part of Celtic Connections last night. A companion show to celebrate Patrick Doyle’s 65th birthday, featuring highlights from his film work and two new works composed for the occasion, will take place at Glasgow City Halls on Thursday. The concert features the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

The world premiere of Brave In Concert took place as part of Celtic Connections last night. A companion show to celebrate Patrick Doyle’s 65th birthday, featuring highlights from his film work and two new works composed for the occasion, will take place at Glasgow City Halls on Thursday. The concert features the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.