Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

Joubert, John (Pierre Herman)

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Joubert, John (Pierre Herman)

(b Cape Town, 20 March 1927). British composer of South African origin. He studied composition with Bell at the South African College of Music, Cape Town, and in London at the RAM (1946–56) with Holland and Ferguson. He was a lecturer in music at Hull University from 1950 to 1962, moving from there to the University of Birmingham, where he later held the post of reader in music (1969–86). In 1991 he received an honorary DMus from Durham University.

Joubert's reputation was quickly established after he won the Novello anthem competition in 1952 with O Lorde, the Maker of Al Thing, which like the carols Torches and There is no Rose, was soon added to the repertory of cathedral and other choirs. Joubert has since fulfilled many commissions for the Anglican church and his contribution to the British choral tradition has proved central to his achievement. In addition to smaller-scale sacred and secular settings (such as Rorate coeli and South of the Line, both 1985), Joubert has produced a number of choral works with orchestra: Urbs beata (1963) and The Raising of Lazarus (1970) are Handelian in form and dramatic in their use of musical imagery, whereas in the three choral symphonies (notably The Choir Invisible, 1967–8), symphonic coherence is assured by means of textural and thematic relationships.

Joubert's skill in writing to immediate requirements accounts for the number of commissons he has received. His Symphony no.1 of 1956 (written for the mainly amateur Hull Philharmonic Society) is built on simple material, but evinces total commitment. Commitment of a different kind is demonstrated by the Symphony no.2 (1971), commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society and dedicated to the victims of Sharpeville. His creative adaptability is also evident in the operas, from his initial essay in the genre, Antigone (radio op, 1954) to the powerful Under Western Eyes (1968), and three operas for young people including The Prisoner (1973). Each work nonetheless sounds with Joubert's authentic voice, a voice that has often reflected the influence of other British composers. Walton's example may be felt in Joubert's rhythmic style, though the influence blossoms in an independent way. From Britten, meanwhile, Joubert derived the grace of his lyrical style, and an ability to express new ideas using an instinctive, rather than calculated, juxtaposition of diatonic elements. This is exemplified in two later orchestral works, Déploration (1978), dedicated to Britten's memory, and the haunting Temps perdu (1984). The latter, together with the Sinfonietta (1962) and the song cycle The Instant Moment (1987), was issued on CD in 1997 by the British Music Society.


(selective list)


Antigone (radio op, 4 scenes, R. Trickett, after Sophocles), op.11, 1954, BBC, 21 July 1954

In the Drought (op, 1, A. Wood), op.17, 1955, Johannesburg, 26 Oct 1956; London, Sadler's Wells Theatre, 13 Dec 1959

Silas Marner (op, 3, Trickett, after G. Eliot), op.31, 1961, Cape Town, Little Theatre, 20 May 1961

The Quarry (op for young players, 1, D. Holbrook), op.50, 1964, London, Copland School, 25 March 1965

Under Western Eyes (op, 3, C. Cliffe, after J. Conrad), op.51, 1968, London, St Pancras Town Hall, 29 May 1969

The Prisoner (children's op, 2, S. Tunnicliffe, after L. Tolstoy: Dorogo stoit), op.76, 1973, Barnet, 16 March 1973

The Wayfarers (op for young people, 2, Tunnicliffe, after G. Chaucer), op.98, 1983, Huntingdon, St Peter's School, 4 April 1984

Jane Eyre (op, 3, K. Birkin, after C. Brontë), op. 134, 1987–98


With orch: The Burghers of Calais (G.K. Hunter), op.12, cant., S, Ct, 2 T, Bar, B, SATB, chbr orch, 1954; Urbs beata (Bible), op.42, cant., T, Bar, SATB, orch, 1963; The Choir Invisible (Apocrypha: Ecclesiasticus, S. Spender, G. Eliot), op.54, choral sym., Bar, SATB, orch, 1968; The Martyrdom of St Alban (Tunnicliffe), op.59, cant, spkr, T, B, SATB, chbr orch, 1969; The Raising of Lazarus (Tunnicliffe), op.67, orat, Mez, T, SATB, orch, 1971; The Magus (Tunnicliffe), op.83, T, 2 Bar, SATB, orch, 1976; Herefordshire Canticles (Vulgate, G.M. Hopkins, T.S. Eliot), op.93, S, Bar, boys' chorus, mixed chorus, orch, 1979; Gong-Tormented Sea (choral sym., W. Whitman, R. Campbell, W.B. Yeats), op.96, Bar, SATB, orch, 1982; Missa brevis, op.122, S A T B, chorus, chbr orch, 1988; For the Beauty of the Earth (choral sym., Bible: Psalms, G.M. Hopkins, F.S. Pierpoint), op.124, S, Bar, SATB, orch, 1989; Rochester Triptych, op.139, SATB, orch, 1997 [orch of opp.126, 132, 133]

Sacred: Torches, op.7a, SATB/unison vv, org, 1952; O Lorde, the Maker of Al Thing, op.7b, SATB, org, 1952; There is no Rose, op.14, SATB, 1954; Pro pace, opp.19, 29, 32, SATB, 1956–9; Missa Beata Ioannis, op.37, SATB, org, 1962; The Holy Mountain, op.44, SATB, 2 pf, 1964; Communion Service, op.46, SATB, org, 1962; The Beatitudes, op.47, SATB, 1964; TeD, op.49, SATB, org, 1965; O Praise God in his Holiness, op.52, SATB, org, 1966; Lord, thou hast been our Refuge, op.53, SATB, org, 1967; Let there be Light, op.56, SSSAAATTTBBB, 1969; Mag and Nunc, A, op.57, SATB, org, 1969; 3 Hymns to St Oswald, op.74, SATB, org, 1972; 5 Carols, op.78, 5vv, 1973; Sleep Canticle, op.81, unacc., 1974; Four Motets, op.89, unacc., 1976; 3 Carols, op.102, SATB, 1984; Mag and Nunc, C, op.103, SATB, org, 1985; Rorate coeli, op.107, SATB, 1985; Vision and Prayer, op.111, SATB, pf 4 hands, 1986

Secular: Leaves of Life, op.41, ballad cantata, solo vv, chorus, pf, 1963; Four Stations on the Road to Freedom, op.73, SSAATTBB, 1972; Lines from The Youth of Man, op.90, unacc., 1976; Three Portraits (J. Skelton), op.97, SATB, 1983; South of the Line (T. Hardy), op.109, cant., S, Bar, 2 pf, perc, 1985; Rochester Triptych (J. Wilmot), opp.126, 132, 133, SATB, org, 1994

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