Born: May 23, 1934 - Hove, England
Died: July 16, 2006 - Johannesburg, South Africa
The English-born conductor, Derek Hudson, 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 Ernest Ansermet.
Derek Hudson made his orchestral debut 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 USA, Canada and South Africa.
Derek Hudson was appointed to the Bulawayo Philharmonic in 1974, and 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 L.v. Beethoven's Ninth and Tenth symphonies, Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations and Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde, Hudson also appeared as soloist and accompanist.
Well known throughout Zimbabwe as a lecturer, writer and broadcaster, Derek Hudson 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.
Derek Hudson 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 passed away peacefully in his sleep in Johannesburg on December 20, 2005, after contracting pneumonia. He left his two daughters, Joanna and Kate, and seven grandchildren.