Hooper Josse Brewster-Jones (1887-1949)
South Australian Hooper Josse Brewster-Jones was born in 1887 at Black Rock Plain, a hamlet where the roads to Peterborough, Jamestown and Orroroo connect. He attended country schools at Armagh and Bute where his father, schoolmaster William Arthur Jones, taught him music until the age of thirteen when he left home to board in Adelaide. As a child Brewster-Jones was somewhat of a prodigy, startling his examiners by passing his first sol-fa examination at the age of four and giving a recital on the Adelaide Town Hall organ at just seven. In 1901, Brewster-Jones turned his attention to pianoforte, studying at the Elder Conservatorium of Music. He earned excellent reviews and won a series of scholarships, including the 1905 Elder Scholarship, which allowed him to study for three years at the Royal College of Music in London.
In London, Brewster-Jones studied the contrapuntal, orchestral and creative branches of music under Sir Charles Stanford and Sir Frederick Bridge, organist of Westminster Abbey. He also studied chamber music with Achille Rivarde, the pianoforte with Franklin Taylor and various methods of voice production privately. He made many appearances in chamber music, orchestras, and as a solo pianist in both London and the provinces, with the London Musical Standard describing him as a fluent and graceful pianist.
In 1909 Brewster-Jones returned to Adelaide to teach piano, singing and composition. A year later he married amateur singer, Gerta Homburg, and by 1914 had assumed the role of President of the Adelaide Chamber Music Society. He formed the Brewster-Jones Symphony in 1917 which grew in numbers to seventy in just three years. It was the only South Australian symphony orchestra during World War I.
As a composer, Brewster-Jones was prolific. His compositions included a significant body of piano works, violin and cello sonatas, short songs and numerous incomplete stage works. His symphonic poem, Australia Phoenix, has been played throughout Australia by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, where he also worked as a pianist, lecturer on radio and conductor of the State studio orchestra. He also had a passion for the bush and for bird life, transcribing the Australian bush soundscape into a series of seventy-three piano pieces entitled Australian Bird Call Impressions. Many of these had been assembled from transcriptions made of bird calls whilst he was on tour with painter, Sir Hans Heysen.
Brewster-Jones was also a music critic for the Adelaide Advertiser from 1935 to 1940, and later for the News. He was a supporter of numerous musical competitions, adjudicator of many eisteddfods and was also an examiner for the Australian Music Board. He was often described as a popular man, a gifted composer and solo pianist, whose outlook was based on classicism but who really was a pioneer of modernism.
Although retired by the 1940s, Brewster-Jones contributed to one last performance on the 8th July 1949, playing Mozart's d minor piano concerto with the Adelaide String Orchestra, conducted by his son Arthur. He died just fifteen minutes later from a heart attack.
The following musical scores have been transferred to Rare Books & Special Collections from the University of Adelaide Elder Conservatorium of Music.
**Note: This web page is currently being developed. It was last updated on 10 November 2014.