Gordon Jacob

The conservative twentieth century English composer Gordon Jacob was born in London on 5 July 1895 and studied at Dulwich College. He served in the trenches as a member of the infantry in World War I, and was captured in 1917. After his release and a year studying journalism, he studied composition, music theory and conducting at the Royal College of Music in London. 

A skillful arranger, Jacob was asked (while still a student) to make an arrangement for full orchestra of the English Folk Song Suite by its composer Vaughan Williams, and in the 1940s he was commissioned to orchestrate Elgar's Organ Sonata. His books on orchestration are still used widely by students.

Jacob wrote for Sadlers Wells in the 1930s, and also wrote light music for a comedy radio show during World War II. In the 1950s his fanfare arrangement of the British National Anthem was played at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

He taught at the Royal College of Music from 1924 until 1966, with students including Malcolm Arnold, Ruth Gipps, Imogen Holst and Cyril Smith. He also taught briefly at Birkbeck College and Morley College.

Gordon Jacob died in Saffron Walden on 8 June 1984. Arrangements for concert wind band (such as his 1951 Music for a Festival and the Fantasia for Euphonium and Band), have helped to keep his reputation alive.

A selection of articles about Gordon Jacob

CD Spotlight. Simply Irresistible - Gerald Fenech listens to two albums of British music. '... an inspiration for other composers ...'

In Memoriam – Joseph Horovitz (1926-2022) - Malcolm Miller writes about the British Vienna-born composer, conductor, pianist and teacher

CD Spotlight. Engagingly Delivered - Robert Meyer's 'Discovering the Double Bass', heard by the late Howard Smith. '... a rare and welcome initiative ...'

CD Spotlight. Imaginative Programming - Music for recorder and harpsichord from Denmark and the UK, recommended by Geoff Pearce. '... this partnership works very well musically ...'

CD Spotlight. Musically Engaging - English recorder works played by Jill Kemp, heard by Patric Standford. '... a virtuoso performer ...'

CD Spotlight. Spectacular Virtuosity - Michala Petri plays English recorder concertos, enjoyed by Gerald Fenech. '... nimble fingering and miraculous breath control ...'

Ensemble. Deeply Affecting - A Remembrance Concert in Clapham, attended by Michael Graubart

CD Spotlight. Farrago of Fun - The Hoffnung Music Festival Concert, recommended by Howard Smith. '... though these show their age, the sound remains adequate.'

Ensemble. Musical Outlooks - Bill Newman attends a selection of concerts at London's Wigmore Hall

CD Spotlight. Boisterous Energy - Vaughan Williams' piano concerto, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Highly recommended ...'

Ensemble. Something for Everyone - An evening with the Zemel Choir, reviewed by Malcolm Miller

Ensemble. Arresting Playing - A recital by Althea Ifeka and Katherine May, reviewed by Mike Wheeler

One of the most modest of men - British composer Leonard Salzedo died on 6 May