Derek Hudson, former conductor of the Bulawayo Philharmonic Orchestra and Director of the Zimbabwe Academy of Music, passed away peacefully in his sleep in Johannesburg on 20 December, 2005, after contracting pneumonia.
Hudson was born on 23 May, 1934, in Hove, England, and was educated at Tonbridge in Kent. He then spent four years as a pilot in the Royal Air Force before winning an award to study piano, composition and conducting at the Guildhall School of Music in London. He later studied in Geneva with Ernst Ansermet.
His orchestral debut was with the English Chamber Orchestra at the Wigmore Hall in London. In addition to further concerts with this orchestra, he also appeared with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Festival Hall. He conducted for many ballet companies including the Royal Ballet Company at Covent Garden and the Paul Taylor Company of New York. He conducted orchestras all over the world, including France, Austria, Holland, Germany, Russia, Bulgaria, the Czech republic, the United States, Canada and South Africa.
Appointed to the Bulawayo Philharmonic in 1974, Hudson also became Director of the Zimbabwe Academy of Music in 1976. He was largely responsible for the formation in 1977 of the National Symphony Orchestra, with whom in 1980 he performed his own composition ‘Prelude: Zimbabwe’ to mark Independence. As well as giving first performances in Zimbabwe of Beethoven’s Ninth and Tenth symphonies, Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, Hudson also appeared as soloist and accompanist.
Well known throughout Zimbabwe as a lecturer, writer and broadcaster, he was for seven years a member of the Board of Governors of ZBC and in 1996 was awarded Bulawayo Civic Honours for outstanding services to music.
He retired from public life following a heart attack in 2001. He was married for nearly 40 years to Jill, a cellist and music teacher, to whom he was devoted. After her death in 2003 and because of his own declining health, he left Zimbabwe and moved to Johannesburg to live with his daughter. He leaves his two daughters, Joanna and Kate, and seven grandchildren.
Reproduced per kind permission of Chris Whitehead, the Editor of the Rhodesians Worldwide magazine.