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, took on Joubert as a house composer.
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 continues to live and work in Birmingham.
His most popular works are the carols Torches and There is No Rose of Such Virtue, but he has written 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.
A selection of M&V articles about John Joubert
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