I note with sadness the death of John Joubert, on January 7th, at the age of 91. Joubert and my late husband John McCabe were friends and musical colleagues for over 50 years. John supported Joubert’s work at a time when he received very little attention, including writing to The Times when Bernard Levin (who was a big name at that time) unjustifiably attacked Joubert for being a South African composer (‘Did you know there were any?’, he asked rhetorically, in an article which was actually laying into the BBC Radio 3 programmes). Levin took no account of the fact that Joubert disapproved of apartheid on principle, and lived in Britain for most of his life.
John also recorded solo piano works by Joubert, and played them in recitals quite extensively, along with music by Hoddinott, Mathias, and many other British composers, all of whom were neglected then, and still are, to a considerable extent now. John and John Joubert deeply respected each other’s work, and I have letters from Joubert to John praising newly written works, such as the Symphony ‘Of Time and the River’. As a committee member of the Birmingham Chamber Music Society – now sadly defunct – Joubert was also responsible for the commissioning of John’s last solo piano study, Berceuse, which was written in 2011, and dedicated to John and Mary Joubert.
© Monica McCabe