GORDON JACOB (1895 - 1984)
Gordon Jacob was one of the most prolific of English composers, spanning many fields from ‘serious’ to ‘light’. Born in London and educated at Dulwich College, he was of the generation that was inevitably caught up in the 1914-18 Great War, in which he was wounded and taken prisoner. Rehabilitation eventually came when a grant enabled him to study at the Royal College of Music in London with Stanford, Howells and Boult as his teachers. As a teacher he soon established himself. He was on the staff of the Royal College of Music for forty years from 1926, teaching composition and orchestration.
Amongst his books, Orchestral Technique (1931) has become a standard work. Jacob’ compositions include two symphonies, and other orchestral music, chamber music, songs and part-songs, music for band and film scores. Older listeners will recall Dr. Gordon Jacob’s witty arrangements for the popular radio series ITMA (It’s That Man Again) featuring the Liverpool comedian Tommy Handley. Characteristic of Jacob’s output is that he looked out for areas where there were gaps in the available repertoire. He wrote several concertos and solos, including those for less favoured instruments; trombone, bassoon, cor anglais and double bass. He would readily write for a new ensemble and welcomed a new challenge. He wrote a two-piano concerto (three hands) for Phyllis Sellick and the sadly handicapped Cyril Smith. When the prowess of the brilliant harmonica-player Tommy Reilly became known to him this inspired him to compose several most attractive pieces for that artist.