John Hawkins


John Hawkins was born in 1949, went to Highgate School and lived in London until 2015 when he moved to Lewes.

He worked for more than 40 years at the book publisher Thames & Hudson in production, design and digital publishing while a course at the City Literary Institute led to study with composers Malcolm Williamson and Elisabeth Lutyens.

On the recommendation of Sir Charles Mackerras a ‘Sea Symphony’ was commissioned by The Marine Society. This was followed by a song cycle ‘Voices from the Sea’ and ‘The Seafarer’ for tenor, choir, and chamber orchestra. The BBC broadcast the ‘Sea Symphony’ three times and the song cycle ‘Voices from the Sea’, sung by Martyn Hill, is available from Meridian Records. In ‘The Seafarer’ for tenor, choir and chamber orchestra the Anglo Saxon poem is set against a dramatic letter from a seaman on a sinking cargo ship.

Past performances in Brighton have included ‘Urizen’ in a Brighton Fringe concert in 2012, and ‘Fuzon’ for string quartet in a Brighton Philharmonic chamber concert in 2016, ‘Fuzon’ will also be played by the Piatti Quartet at the Nicholas Yonge Society in Lewes in October 2022,

A CD of all John Hawkins’s music for clarinet, ‘Simplicius’, on the Claudio Records label, was released in 2020.

In 2022 the semi-opera ‘The Dong with a Luminous Nose’ based on words by Edward Lear was performed as part of the Tête à Tête opera series in London.


The first performance of ‘The Dong with a Luminous Nose‘ was video’d by Tête à Tête Opera and can be seen here:

‘Simplicius’ – all John Hawkins’ music for clarinet

‘Simplicius’ – Music for Clarinet

‘Voices from the Sea’ CD

‘Fuzon’ (played by the Piatti Quartet) on YouTube

‘Urizen’ (played by Paul Silverthorne) on YouTube

and by Cuatro Puntos


Comus Edition
Fountayne Editions

Some Reviews

‘… a distinguished musician who obviously has things to say and who knows how to say them in accessible, communicative terms likely to appeal to larger audiences without ever compromising or writing down to them’ – MusicWeb
‘A name to remember’ – Gramophone
‘… keen-eared responses to the instrument’s potential for dark utterance through soulfully eloquent melody’ – BBC Music Magazine


Some music by John Hawkins:


‘Urizen’ for viola and piano has been performed and broadcast many times worldwide. The USA ‘Orpheus’ Chamber Orchestra performed a version with string orchestra
‘Another Orpheus’ for string orchestra
’Tri’ for six violas (which has been performed at the Royal Academy in London, in Spain, Finland and at The Royal Welsh College of Music)
‘BopBop’ for solo violin (recorded by Thomas Gould on his 2014 CD ‘Bach to Parker’
’Stranger, Lover, Dancer’ for solo ‘cello (first perf. at the Cheltenham Festival in 2015)
String quartets include one three-movement quartet and three single-movement quartets: ‘Fuzon’ (2013), ‘Caged Moon’ and ’Seven into Eight’

Mixed Chamber groups

’Shadows’ for viola, double bass (or ‘cello) and piano
’Palinode’ for flute, violin, clarinet, cello and piano (commissioned by the Presteigne Festival in 2011)
‘In Touch’ (three movement for clarinet, ‘cello and piano, 2016)

Wind instruments

‘Clarinet Sonata’
’Sonata Serenata’ for flute and piano
‘Disturbed Nights’ for oboe
‘Americana’ for five flutes (first performed by Sussex Flutes in 2015)
’Tatiesque’ for flute, oboe and piano


‘This World’ for choir and two trumpets was broadcast by the BBC Singers
‘Virtue, Denial, The Call and Doomsday’ SATB (Poems by George Herbert) first performed by the Manchester choir Alteri


‘Echoes’ in one act was commissioned by and performed as part of Covent Garden’s ‘Garden Venture’ series


‘The Circus Ghosts’ first used by the Centre for Young Musicians
‘Zoo Tunes’ (published by Boosey & Hawkes)