Derek Bourgeois

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Derek David Bourgeois
Born (1941-10-16) 16 October 1941 (age 74)
Kingston upon Thames, England
Nationality British
Alma mater Cambridge University, Royal College of Music
Occupation Music composer
Spouse(s) Jean Bourgeois (1965 – 27 November 2006 (her death))
Norma Bourgeois (10 October 2008 – present)

Derek David Bourgeois (born 16 October 1941) is an English composer.


Derek Bourgeois was born in Kingston upon Thames in 1941. After receiving his education from Magdalene College, Cambridge University[1] (honours degree and doctorate), Bourgeois spent two years at the Royal College of Music studying composition with Herbert Howells and conducting[2] with Sir Adrian Boult.[3]

From 1971 to 1984, Bourgeois was a lecturer in music at Bristol University, and director of the National Youth Orchestra[2] from 1984 to 1993.[4] In 1980 he began conducting at the Sun Life Band[5] where he was introduced to brass bands.[6] In 1994 Bourgeois was appointed Director of Music at St Paul's Girls School, London. After retiring from this post in 2002 he settled in Majorca where he lived along with his wife. After the death of his wife in 2006 he moved to New York in 2008 but eventually returned to United Kingdom in 2009.[3] He has also conducted for various orchestras. His symphonies include Jabbervocky-Extravaganza (1963) and the symphonic fantasy The Astronauts (1969).[7] For his Symphony of Winds, the First International Conference for Conductors, Publishers and Composers awarded him with their main commission in 1981.[8] He has 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 has also been the member of the Music Advisory Panel of the Arts Council.[5]

Bourgeois is well known for his compositions for brass band and wind band including two Concerti for Brass Band, the Concerto Grosso, Blitz, Diversions, Serenade, The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and Apocalypse. He had also played tuba. Reviewing Bourgeois' 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."[9] Bourgeois is recognised as a reputable figure and a well-established music composer.[10] His first band work was a concerto, adapted from a flute concerto.[11] One of his symphonies is 155 minutes long. In 2002 Bourgeois wrote a 77-minute symphony with the intention of honouring the town of Arta.[3]

Bourgeois' first symphony which he had composed at the age of 18 was reviewed by Stanley Sadie for The Guardian. He has also composed music for the television movie The Crucible, the short documentaries Thirty Million Letters and The Driving Force and the TV series The Barchester Chronicles and Buddyboy.[12] In 2015 he was recognised as one of Britain's most prolific composers, with 102 symphonies to his name.[3] In an interview with Alan Rusbridger of The Guardian, he said that the symphonies came "tumbling out."[3]

Personal life[edit]

His first wife, the violinist Jean Bourgeois, died of motor neuron disease on 27 November 2006. She had played for National Welsh Orchestra and was also a piano teacher.[13] Derek Bourgeois currently lives in Wool, Dorset, with his second wife, Norma Bourgeois.[3]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ a b Christopher Seaman (2013). Inside Conducting. University Rochester Press. pp. 23, 158. ISBN 978-1-58046-411-6. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f 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. 
  4. ^ Michael Kennedy; Joyce Kennedy (2012). The Oxford Dictionary of Music. Oxford University Press. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-19-957854-2. 
  5. ^ a b "Derek Bourgeois". Hafabramusic. Archived from the original on 28 October 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  6. ^ Reynish, Tim (2006). "Derek Bourgeois – An Assessment of his music in Two Parts". Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  7. ^ Barrie Jones (2014). The Hutchinson Concise Dictionary of Music. Routledge. p. 84. ISBN 978-1-135-95018-7. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Vinning, David. "Sonata for Trombone by Derek Bourgeois: A Review". Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  10. ^ Newton, Rotney (26 April 2003). "Bourgeois in Brass Yorkshire Building Society Band". World of Brass. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ "Derek Bourgeois". British Film Institute. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  13. ^ 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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