Philip Jones CBE 1928 - 2000

'Jones, the Brass'

Green Plaque at 17 Hamilton Terrace
Jeanne Strang
Drawing by Hans Erni

Philip Jones CBE 1928 – 1000

Philip Jones was born in Bath on 12 March 1928 into a line of brass players, beginning by playing the bugle as a sea cadet at the age of nine before moving on to the trumpet and cornet two years later. At the age of 16 he gained a scholarship to the Royal College of Music and at the age of twenty he was working as bass trumpet in the Royal Opera House Orchestra, being appointed one year later as principal trumpet.

His Brass Ensemble

In 1947, whilst he was still a student he heard a BBC broadcast of a brass quartet from the Dutch Concertgebouw Orchestra which inspired him to explore the field of chamber brass music.  In 1951, he set up the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble (PJBE), initially just a quartet of players from the Royal Opera House Orchestra, with his uncle playing second trumpet.  Repertoire was scarce at first so Philip began to take an active role in producing arrangements and commissioning new works for the Ensemble (a quintet by 1954).  Their reputation grew through public performances and playing scores for films and for advertisements. During the 1950s and 60s whilst building on the success of the PJBE, Philip Jones occupied the principal trumpet seat of several first class orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1956-60), the Philharmonia (1960-64), the New Philharmonia (1965-7) and the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1960-71).

Marriage and life at Hamilton Terrace

Whilst working for the Philharmonia he met Ursula Strebi, their orchestral manager and they married in 1956, after which Ursula took over much of the concert administration of the PJBE.   In 1964, they bought 14 Hamilton Terrace where they lived and worked – rehearsals often taking place in a large room at the top of the house.

The PJBE gave their first full public concert at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1962 by which time the Ensemble, playing as quintet or septet, would include such prestigious players as Alan Civil (horn) and Eric Bravington (trumpet).  By the 1970s they were a 10-piece ensemble of 4 trumpets, horn, 4 trombones and a tuba, and they were touring all over the world.

Retirement from the Ensemble 1986

Philip retired from the Ensemble in 1986 (it then became London Brass) by which time it had made more than 50 recordings, given 87 world premieres and performed in more than 30 countries.   He had already received the OBE in 1977 and on his retirement from playing in 1986 he was awarded the CBE for his services to music.

Principal of Trinity College of Music

Apart from his work with the Ensemble, Philip Jones was Director of the School of Wind and Percussion at the Royal College of Music in Manchester (1975-1977) and held the same post from 1983-1988 at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.  In 1988 he was appointed Principal of Trinity College of Music where he made many innovative and practical changes, leading to the college officially gaining the same status as its Royal colleagues in 1994.

He   became chairman of the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund in 1995. a position he held until his untimely death in 2000.   His  widow Ursula continues to live at 14 Hamilton Terrace and plays an active part in musical activities both in London and in Lucerne, her family home.






This page was added on 24/08/2012.

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