Rhinegold

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Derek Bourgeois (16 October 1941– 6 September 2017)

9:37, 8th September 2017

English composer Derek Bourgeois has died aged 75.

His output included 116 symphonies – the first written at the age of 18 – as well as 17 concertos, several other extended orchestral works, seven major works for chorus and orchestra, two operas and a musical, as well as a considerable amount of music for television.

A prolific composer for brass bands and wind bands, his work in this genre comprised 15 extended works for brass band and seven symphonies for symphonic wind orchestra. The First International Conference for Conductors, Publishers and Composers awarded him their main commission in 1981 for his Symphony of Winds.

Bourgeois graduated from Magdalene College, Cambridge, graduating with a first class honours degree in music and a subsequent doctorate before continuing his studies at the Royal College of Music, studying composition under Herbert Howells and conducting with Sir Adrian Boult.

From 1970 to 1984 he was a lecturer in music at Bristol University. He was the conductor of the Sun Life Band (now the Stanshawe Band of Bristol) from 1980 until 1983; during the same period, he was chair the Composers’ Guild of Great Britain, and a member of the Music Advisory Panel of the Arts Council.

In September 1984 he gave up his university post to become musical director of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.  In 1988 he founded the National Youth Chamber Orchestra of Great Britain, and in 1990 he was appointed artistic director of the Bristol Philharmonic Orchestra.

He left the National Youth Orchestra in August 1993 to become director of music at St Paul’s Girls’ School in London, a position previously held by Gustav Holst and Herbert Howells. He retired to Mallorca in July 2002.

The National Youth Orchestra paid tribute to Bourgeois’ ‘fantastic leadership, his creative passion and his unswerving loyalty to NYO over so many years’.

The statement continued: ‘It was our great pleasure to be in touch with him over our Summer residency this year and to share with him the Orchestra’s fantastic work. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.’

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