Death of an eminent English composer, 91

Death of an eminent English composer, 91


norman lebrecht

January 08, 2019

The composer John Joubert, whose carols decorate many an English Christmas, is being widely mourned today.

He leaves more than 160 works including three symphonies, four concertos and seven operas.

Born in South Africa of French an Dutch descent, he won a post-War scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, followed by teaching positions at the universities of Hull and Birmingham.

His opera Jane Eyre was premiered in 2016 by the English Symphony Orchestra.


  • Michael Turner says:

    A much underrated composer. “Torches” is a great carol, which must be known be millions of people the globe over, but the symphonies and many other works are of equal excellence. I used to see him regularly taking his place in the lower circle of Birmingham Town Hall for CBSO concerts, when I was a school boy sitting behind the orchestra in the cheap seats.

  • CounterTenor says:

    ‘English composer’ you say?

    • Program Annotator says:

      Yes, “Born in South Africa of French an [sic] Dutch descent” is English, didn’t you know that?

      And “There is no Rose” is not a carol, it’s more of a motet. Carols descend from dance tunes.

  • Vivien Easom says:

    As a teenager I sang with Cantamus Girls’ Choir and performed compositions written especially for us by John Joubert … His ‘Autumn Rain’ is magical!

  • Alexander Platt says:

    Thank you for posting. A lovely, wonderful, under-rated composer. Here’s hoping his chamber music has a revival.

  • Michael Barlow says:

    I studied under John at Hull and have always regarded him as the greatest musical influence in my life. A real musician and a true gentleman

  • Barry Smith says:

    A great South African born composer of whom we have always been so proud.