Derek Bourgeois

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Derek Bourgeois
Derek David Bourgeois

(1941-10-16)16 October 1941
Kingston upon Thames, England
Died6 September 2017(2017-09-06) (aged 75)[1]
Poole, Dorset, England
Alma materCambridge University, Royal College of Music
OccupationMusic composer
Spouse(s)Jean Bourgeois (1965 – 27 November 2006 (her death))
Norma Bourgeois (2008 -)

Derek David Bourgeois (16 October 1941 – 6 September 2017) was an English composer.


Derek Bourgeois was born in Kingston upon Thames in 1941. After receiving his university education at Magdalene College, Cambridge[2] (honours degree and doctorate), Bourgeois spent two years at the Royal College of Music, studying composition with Herbert Howells and conducting[3] with Sir Adrian Boult.[4]

From 1971 to 1984, Bourgeois was a lecturer in music at Bristol University, and director of the National Youth Orchestra[3] from 1984 to 1993.[5] In 1980 he began conducting the Sun Life Band[6] (now the Stanshawe Band of Bristol), which was his introduction to brass bands.[7] In 1994 Bourgeois was appointed Director of Music at St Paul's Girls School, London, a position previously held by a number of noted composers, including Gustav Holst and Herbert Howells.

After retiring from this post in 2002 he and his wife settled in Mallorca. Following her death in 2006, he remarried in 2008 and moved to New York City, but returned to the United Kingdom in 2009.[4] He also conducted for various orchestras. His symphonies included Jabbervocky-Extravaganza (1963) and the symphonic fantasy The Astronauts (1969).[8] For his Symphony of Winds, the First International Conference for Conductors, Publishers and Composers awarded him with their main commission in 1981.[9] He also chaired Composer's Guild of Great Britain and served as the artistic director of Bristol Philharmonic Orchestra. He founded the National Youth Chamber Orchestra of Great Britain in 1988. He was also a member of the Music Advisory Panel of the Arts Council.[6]

Bourgeois was a prolific composer for brass bands and wind bands.[10] His works in that area included two Concerti for Brass Band, the Concerto Grosso, Blitz, Diversions, Serenade, The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, and Apocalypse. Reviewing Bourgeois's Sonata for Trombone, David Vinning of wrote: "Bourgeois is a skilled composer who knows how to write for the trombone and this piece is a major new work sure to become popular."[11] Bourgeois's first band work was a concerto, adapted from a flute concerto.[12] He has also played the tuba.

Bourgeois's first symphony, which he composed at the age of 18, was positively reviewed in The Guardian by Stanley Sadie, the future editor of Grove's Dictionary. By 2009, Bourgeois had written 44 symphonies, well beyond the number composed by Havergal Brian, and a larger number than were produced by most 19th and 20th century composers.[4] In an interview with Alan Rusbridger of The Guardian, he said that the symphonies came "tumbling out."[4] By the time of his death in 2017, he had 116 symphonies to his name.[citation needed]

Bourgeois also composed music for the television movie The Crucible, the short documentaries Thirty Million Letters (1963) and The Driving Force (1966), the TV series The Barchester Chronicles, Mansfield Park (1983), and the "Buddyboy" episode of the TV series Beasts.[13]

Personal life[edit]

His first wife, the violinist Jean Bourgeois, died of motor neuron disease on 27 November 2006. She had played in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and was also a piano teacher.[14] Since returning to the UK from the USA in 2009, Bourgeois had lived in Wool, Dorset, with his second wife, Norma Bourgeois.[citation needed] He died on 6 September 2017 in Poole, Dorset, and is survived by his wife Norma.[1]


  1. ^ a b Derek Bourgeois (16 October 1941 – 6 September 2017)
  2. ^ John Xiros Cooper (2000). T.S. Eliot's Orchestra: Critical Essays on Poetry and Music. Psychology Press. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-8153-2577-2.
  3. ^ a b Christopher Seaman (2013). Inside Conducting. University Rochester Press. pp. 23, 158. ISBN 978-1-58046-411-6.
  4. ^ a b c d Rusbridger, Alan (9 February 2009). "Alan Rusbridger talks to Derek Bourgeois, one of Britain's most prolific composers". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  5. ^ Michael Kennedy; Joyce Kennedy (2012). The Oxford Dictionary of Music. Oxford University Press. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-19-957854-2.
  6. ^ a b "Derek Bourgeois". Hafabramusic. Archived from the original on 28 October 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  7. ^ Reynish, Tim (2006). "Derek Bourgeois – An Assessment of his music in Two Parts". Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  8. ^ Barrie Jones (2014). The Hutchinson Concise Dictionary of Music. Routledge. p. 84. ISBN 978-1-135-95018-7.
  9. ^ Cipolla, Frank J. (1997). The Wind Ensemble and Its Repertoire: Essays on the Fortieth Anniversary of the Eastman Wind Ensemble. Alfred Music Publishing. p. 188. ISBN 978-1-4574-4994-9.
  10. ^ Newton, Rotney (26 April 2003). "Bourgeois in Brass Yorkshire Building Society Band". World of Brass. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  11. ^ Vinning, David. "Sonata for Trombone by Derek Bourgeois: A Review". Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  12. ^ Roy Newsome (2006). The Modern Brass Band: From the 1930s to the New Millennium. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-7546-0717-5.
  13. ^ "Derek Bourgeois". British Film Institute. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  14. ^ Alan Rusbridger (2013). Play It Again: An Amateur Against The Impossible. Random House. p. 132. ISBN 978-1-4481-3869-2.

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