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Joseph Horovitz pictured at a reception for his 90th birthday

Joseph Horovitz HonDMus FRCM, 1926 - 2022

Friday 11 February 2022

Joseph Horovitz was one of the Royal College of Music’s longest serving members of staff and a beloved teacher in the Composition Faculty. He was also a former pupil and a Fellow of the College. A gifted composer, Joseph composed over 70 scores for major film, television and Son et Lumière productions. This wealth of experience made his contribution to the RCM’s Composition Faculty, and particularly its renowned Composition for Screen course, invaluable.

Joseph’s association with the RCM began in 1948, when he commenced his studies with Gordon Jacob. He later returned to the College in 1961 as a member of the Composition Faculty teaching staff. Aside from his compositions for screen, his works ranged from ballets, one-act operas, concertos, and chamber music, through to pieces for brass, wind bands and choral works. In 2002 he received the Nino Rota Prize of Italy, and in 2007 he was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art First Class. In 2008 the Worshipful Company of Musicians awarded him the Cobbett Medal for services to chamber music. He also held two Ivor Novello Awards and the Royal College of Music awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Music in March 2017.

William Mival, former Head of Composition, said: ‘Unfailingly supportive to the College, to his students and to me personally during my years as Head of Composition, Joseph was a musician and a composer to his core. With Joseph there was no dogma – just an unfailing hunger to make music work for its participants; performers and listeners. He had a huge curiosity for the new, setting musicianship and the highest professionalism above ephemeral fashion. His greatest praise was that it was “real music”. Warm, generous, always eager to talk about music in its most intimate detail and full of anecdote, humour and a radiant joy in musical life. I will miss him.’

We send our deepest sympathies to his widow Anna and family, his friends, colleagues, and students. His music will live on through his many compositions and the impact he made upon future generations of composers and musicians.

An interview with Joseph Horovitz conducted in 2007 in which he recounts his childhood, emigration, education, and life and work at the Royal College of Music can be viewed here.