John Pierre Herman Joubert

(b.1927)

John Pierre Herman Joubert (b.1927)

JOHN JOUBERT was born in Cape Town in 1927 and educated at the Diocesan College in Rondebosch where he came under the guidance of the musical director Claude Brown, whose teaching he regarded as “an indispensable foundation to my subsequent musical career”. Through his teacher's encouragement, Joubert was able to participate in choral performances with the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra under William J. Pickerill and subsequently to hear his works featured in performance. The greatest influence on his composition, however, was William Henry Bell, an English-born composer who taught Joubert privately following his graduation from the South African College of Music in 1944.

The following year, Joubert was awarded a Performing Right Society Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he studied with Theodore Holland, Howard Ferguson and Alan Bush. Joubert was recipient of a Royal Philharmonic Prize in 1949, took up a music lectureship at Hull University in 1950 and in 1952 won the Novello Anthem Competition for his O Lorde, the maker of al thing. In 1962 he was appointed Senior Lecturer and subsequently Reader in Music at the University of Birmingham and, following early retirement, was appointed Senior Research Fellow at Birmingham in 1997. He is also an honorary Doctor of Music at Durham University. He has received commissions from Three Choirs and Birmingham Triennial Festivals, from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Society and the BBC.

Among the over 150 works to his name are two symphonies, concertos for violin, piano and bassoon, seven operas, many large scale choral works, and a number of instrumental and small ensemble and vocal pieces. Joubert’s instinctive feel for literature is evident in his operas, among them Silas Marner (1961) (after the novel by George Eliot) and Under Western Eyes (1968) (after the novel by Conrad). Joubert’s love of literature may also be seen in the smaller settings of poets such as Lawrence (The Instant Moment, 1986), Hardy (South of the Line, 1985) and Mandelstam (Tristia, 1987).

However, it is as a composer of choral music that he is best known. Many of his shorter works, such as There is no Rose (1954) and Torches (1951) are now regarded as classics. Larger scale choral works include the cantata Wings of Faith, which will receive its first complete performance on 22 March 2007 at the Oratory, Birmingham, by Ex Cathedra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jeffrey Skidmore.

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