Joseph Koo

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Joseph Koo
Gu Gaa-fai (顧嘉煇)

(1933-02-03) 3 February 1933 (age 87)
Guangzhou, China
Nationality Canadian
OccupationComposer, arranger, Musical Director, Conductor, very occasional lyricist
Years active1962–2015
Awards Hong Kong Film AwardsBest Original Film Score
1990 A Terra-Cotta Warrior

Golden Horse AwardsBest Music
1964 The Dancing Millionairess
1966 Till the End of Time

Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Musical career
Also known asMoran (莫然)
gu gaa-fai (顧家輝)
OriginHong Kong
Genres Mandopop, jingles, Children's song (early career)
Cantopop, Hong Kong musical tongue twister
InstrumentsPiano, Xylophone

Joseph Koo Kar-Fai, MBE, GBS (born 3 February 1933 in Guangzhou, China), is one of the most respected composers [1] in Hong Kong. He used the pen name Moran (莫然) for Mandarin songs early in his career. He has two siblings: an older sister, the famous Chinese singer/painter Koo Mei (顧媚) and a younger brother, Koo Kar-Tseung (顧嘉鏘). [2]


Early life

Koo began learning music at age 17 by taking piano lessons from a Filipino music teacher, who was already giving singing lessons to Koo's sister. [3]


Koo was sponsored by Sir Run Run Shaw [ citation needed ] to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston in the early 60s. Upon graduation he returned to Hong Kong and worked for both the Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest movie studios, scoring, among others, the Bruce Lee films Fist of Fury and Way of the Dragon in 1972.

Koo joined TVB as their director of music in 1973, [4] where from the late 1970s until immigrating to Canada in the 1990s, he collaborated with the lyricist Wong Jim on many memorable TV theme songs. Koo has composed over 1,200 songs in his career, many of his songs are now considered as classic Cantopop. He only has 2 notable works as a lyricist, but they are both very short in length and total number of words. One was a children's song about the ten numbers, the other was the ending 'Goodnight' jingle for Enjoy Yourself Tonight.

In 1961, he composed his first hit (Mandarin Chinese) song 夢 (meng means "dream"), which was sung by his sister Koo Mei [5] and later another hit song 郊道. In 1974, he wrote the first Cantonese TV theme song (啼笑姻緣) which was the actual first popular Cantopop song.

Koo received Member of Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1982. In 1998, he received the Bronze Bauhinia Star from the Hong Kong Government. He also received other awards including Music Accomplishment Award (from Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong Ltd.), Highest Honour Award (from RTHK Ten Best Chinese Music Program), Best Music Award and Best Lyric Award (from Asia Film Festival), Hong Kong Film Awards, Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards and many others.

In 2012 from 30 November to 3 December, he held a concert titled "Joseph Koo Concert 2012" at the Hong Kong Coliseum, which featured many singers including Adam Cheng, George Lam, Teresa Cheung, and Anthony Wong. [6] In more recent years he has spent much of his time in Vancouver, Canada where he had emigrated. In 2015, he announced his retirement as a conductor, and he would significantly reduce his musical works, and move into become an oil painter like his sister.

Important works in melody

Television Commercials

American Express 1984

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  1. "Joseph Koo". The New York Times .
  2. "顧嘉煇姐弟畫展望籌百萬 (Joseph Koo and his siblings exhibit paintings for profits) at the Wayback Machine (archived 6 December 2008)." 31 October 2006. 23 May 2012. Archived from the original.
  3. Man 1998, p. 83.
  4. Man 1998, p. 84.
  5. "Honorary Doctorate: Joseph KOO Ka-fai". Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  6. "Oriental Watch Company Exclusively Presents《Joseph Koo Concert 2012》Press Concerence". Archived from the original on 22 April 2014. Retrieved 21 April 2013.

Additional sources

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Golden Needle Award of RTHK Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Award
Succeeded by
Nonoy Ocampo 奧金寶