John Joubert

The South African born composer of French Huguenot descent, John Joubert, was born on 20 March 1927 in Cape Town. He studied at Diocesan College in Rondebosch, where his music teacher had been an assistant of Ivor Atkins at Worcester Cathedral. His interest in composition began at the age of fifteen and, graduating from the South African College of Music in 1944, he studied privately with William Henry Bell. In 1946 he won a PRS scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he was taught by Theodore Holland, Howard Ferguson and Alan Bush, and has lived in England ever since.

In 1950 he began his career with a lectureship at Hull University, and his music began quite quickly to get performances, broadcasts and to be published widely. M&V's Basil Ramsey, as composer manager at Novello and Co, began publishing Joubert's compositions.

He continued his academic career as a lecturer, then senior lecturer and reader in music at Birmingham University. In 1986 he took early retirement from Birmingham in order to concentrate on composition, and continued to live and work in Birmingham.

His most popular works are the carols Torches and There is No Rose of Such Virtue, but he wrote more than 160 works, including the opera Jane Eyre and the oratorio Wings of Faith. Commissions include those from the Three Choirs Festival, the Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts, the BBC and the Royal Philharmonic Society.

John Joubert died in Birmingham on 7 January 2019, aged ninety-one.

Further information:

A selection of articles about John Joubert

Ensemble. Plenty of Expressive Contrast - The Sitwell Singers' 2022 Christmas concert, reviewed by Mike Wheeler

Ensemble. Packed With Good Things - Roderic Dunnett reports from the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester

CD Spotlight. Deeply Emotional - Alice McVeigh listens to music by the late John Joubert. 'William Boughton conducts with great sensitivity, and the orchestra excels.'

Classical music news. January 2019 Classical Music Obituaries - A look at some of the figures who passed away during January 2019

Amazingly Kind - Keith Bramich marks the passing of South African-born composer John Joubert, who died on 7 January

Profile. A Gold Mine - Roderic Dunnett visits Birmingham to talk to John Joubert

Ensemble. Big-band Jazz and Choral Traditions - Mike Wheeler listens to music by Will Todd and Nils Lindberg, performed by Derby Choral Union with the Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra

Ensemble. A view from the pit - John Joubert's 'Jane Eyre', praised by Alice McVeigh

Ensemble. Fresh and Original - John Joubert's opera 'Jane Eyre', experienced by Roderic Dunnett

Ensemble. Cogent Achievements - Peter Maxwell Davies' tenth symphony and other British music, heard by Roderic Dunnett

Ask Alice - Recital programme ideas, and stress in the orchestra, with classical music agony aunt Alice McVeigh

CD Spotlight. Extremely Well-crafted - British music for oboe and strings, heard by Patric Standford. '... a particularly valuable contribution to the catalogue.'

Ensemble. A Generous Weekend - The third William Alwyn Festival, attended by Patric Standford

CD Spotlight. A Fascinating Recording - John Joubert's string quartets, heard by Alice McVeigh. 'The Brodskys throw themselves into the lament for Shostakovich ...'

Ensemble. Top Class Musicianship - Roderic Dunnett visits Gloucester for the 2010 Three Choirs Festival

CD Spotlight. Mice in the Manger - A selection of Christmas music, enjoyed by George Balcombe. '... an amazing collection.'

Ensemble. A Near-perfect Occasion - Alice McVeigh braves the snow to listen to Fretwork at London's Wigmore Hall

CD Spotlight. A World of Wonder - Song cycles by John Joubert, recommended by Alice McVeigh. '... a passionate wildness to the piano writing ...'

Ensemble. Emotive Power - Roderic Dunnett sings the praises of John Joubert, following the recent première of 'Wings of Faith' in Birmingham UK

Ensemble. Splendidly Wide-ranging - The Sitwell Singers' Christmas concert, reviewed by Mike Wheeler

Ensemble. Coming of age - Keith Bramich at the twenty-first Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts

Editorial musings with Basil Ramsey - Surfacing - Music up and down

Presteigne notes - Further news from the continuing Presteigne Festival in Wales