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John Hughes

Composer, Arranger, Author

John Hughes was born in 1956 and educated in Sutton Coldfield before entering Royal Holloway College, University of London, in 1974 to study Music. After graduating, he worked for a number of years in music retail, selling pianos in Harrods to the rich and famous and as a sales manager for the keyboard division of Yamaha. He then worked for ten years in the giftware industry, primarily as a magazine editor, researching and writing articles about traditional British architectural styles, crafts and social history. He then spent a number of years working in the lucrative IT recruitment industry until it suddenly stopped being lucrative in 2001. 

After a spell as a self-employed CV writer he eventually settled down in his latest profession as a Data Protection Officer. Musically John has been active as a keyboard player and percussionist, mainly with the London Tijuana Showband, and also a freelance arranger. In this capacity he has worked with Brian Kay, The Wren Orchestra, The Muhlfeld Trio and individual members of the London Symphony and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras. His musical influences are many and varied. John has had a life-long interest in Film and Film Music and is an expert on the music of the James Bond films, having arranged a suite of John Barry's classic film music for orchestra whilst still at University. He also is an ardent admirer of the music of Miklos Rozsa and Bernard Herrmann.

John became active as a composer in 1993 when challenged by a friend to write an overture for a local amateur group, the St Bartholomews Orchestra. They seemed to enjoy the experience and said they would be happy to play anything else he came up with. Two years later he approached them with his first major work, "An English Requiem", a full mass for soloists, choir and orchestra dedicated to the memory of Rachael Nickell, who was murdered on Wimbledon Common in 1992. This was followed by A Children Suite, dedicated to his daughters, Helen and Alice, and some piano pieces.

In May 2002 John's composition "Golden Jubilee Fanfare"Golden Jubilee Fanfare (No.1) - John Hughes won the over-18 category in the Surrey Brass Golden Jubilee Fanfare Contest. Later the same year his "Piece For David" won Bourne Concert Band's "Calling All Composers" competition, and his overture "This Sceptred Isle" was premiered by Woking Symphony Orchestra. The following year he composed his Clarinet Concerto, which has yet to be performed and his "Theme, Variations and Finale" for solo violin and orchestra was performed for the first time in South London.

John's winning fanfare for Surrey Brass was the beginning of a fruitful musical partnership which has produced a large number of arrangements, notably of film music. In October 2003 he wrote all but one of the arrangements in Surrey Brass's highly successful Music From The Movies concert. This in turn was followed in March 2004 by "Hollywood On Thames" a concert which features five original scores by John to accompany the rare showing of some very early British silent films made by the Hepworth Studios in Walton On Thames during the early years of the 20th century. He backed this up with further original music for other Hepworth silent films in 2005.

John also won a composing competition by the Bourne Concert Band of Woking.

Earlier in 2004 John composed music for a fascinating musical project sponsored by Croydon Council which involved composing music for the combination of a symphony orchestra and an Asian musical group, Geet Sangeet. Despite the challenges of writing for both classically trained musicians and ethnic players who do not read a note of music, the concert was a great success.

John then had a year long sabbatical from music during 2005 which time he got married, moved to Merstham in Surrey and indulged another of his interests - researching the life of Esmond Knight, a remarkable actor whose name is hardly known nowadays but has appeared in many classic British films.

Much more has happened since then. Since last working with Surrey Brass, John has concentrated on his writing career, notably publishing a somewhat autobiographical "How to Steal a Piano" and an excellent WW2 thriller, "Spitfire Spies". More is to come!


Compositions and Arrangements

For Piano, Orchestra and Instruments

  • "An English Requiem" in memory of Rachael Nickell, who was murdered on Wimbledon Common.
  • Clarinet Concerto, premiered in 2003. 
  • Arrangements of film music for orchestral and instrumental forces.
  • Overture "This Sceptred Isle" for symphony orchestra
  • Piano Music
  • Other works by John Hughes are available from his Sibelius website.  

 For Surrey Brass