Composer of the Month

December 2017

Derek David Bourgeois


Derek David Bourgeois (16 October 1941 – 6 September 2017)

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

From 1971 to 1984, Bourgeois was a lecturer in music at Bristol University, and director of the National Youth Orchestra from 1984 to 1993. In 1980, he began conducting the Sun Life Band (now the Stanshawe Band of Bristol), which was his introduction to brass bands. 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. He also conducted for various orchestras. His symphonies included Jabbervocky-Extravaganza (1963) and the symphonic fantasy The Astronauts (1969).His Symphony of Winds, was premiered at the first WASBE International Conference for Conductors, Publishers and Composers held in Manchester, England in 1981.He also chaired the 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.

Bourgeois was a prolific composer for brass band and wind band. 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' 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." Bourgeois' first band work was a concerto, adapted from a flute concerto. He has also played the tuba.

Bourgeois' 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. In an interview with Alan Rusbridger of The Guardian, he said that the symphonies came "tumbling out." By the time of his death in September, 2017, he had 114 symphonies to his name.

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.

Works for winds

  • 2001 - A Wind Odyssey
  • Band Land
  • Biffo's March
  • Bridges Over the River Cam
  • Calypso for Concert Band
  • Cancion de Cuevas
  • Concert Pels Obradors de Cas Conco
  • Concert Prelude for Euphonium and Band
  • Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Band (Bourgeois)
  • Concerto for Bass Trombone and Wind Band
  • Concerto for Brass Sextet and Concert Band
  • Concerto for Percussion and Concert Band
  • Concerto for Three Trombones and Wind Band
  • Concerto for Trombone and Concert Band (1989)
  • Crazy
  • Dances from The Oprichnik (as arranger) (2008)
  • Diversions
  • Double Concerto for Trumpet, Bass Trombone and Band
  • Fantasy Triptych
  • Felanitx Fandango
  • Felantx Fantasy
  • Felanitx Fiestas – Suite of 3 Pasodobles
  • Fribourg - The Old City
  • Funfair
  • Green Dragon
  • Hafabra Overture
  • Happy and Glorious Concert March
  • Lliria Celebration
  • Mallorca - Symphonic Fantasy on Traditional Mallorquin Songs
  • Metro Gnome (1997/2001)
  • Molesworth's Melody (2001)
  • Northern Lament
  • Perchance to Dream
  • Piccolo Picante
  • Repic de Pascua
  • Roller Coaster
  • Romance for Saxophone and Concert Band
  • Rondo Grottesco
  • Royal Tournament
  • Serenade (1965/1980)
  • Sinfonietta
  • Six Easy Pieces for Brass
  • Song of Farewell
  • Suite from Christmas on the Underground
  • Symphony for William
  • Symphony of Winds
  • Symphony No VIII - The Mountains of Mallorca
  • Trumpet Gallop
  • Two Christmas Pieces
  • Walking the Dog (as arranger) (1937/2007)
  • Weather Suite, A
  • Well of the Moon, The (Es Pou de sa Lluna)
  • White Dragon