John Wilbraham FRAM 1944–1998
This site has been established to pay tribute to the legendary trumpeter John Wilbraham (1944–1998).
John was affectionately known by his friends and colleagues as ‘Jumbo’, though he hated others to assume such familiarity. He was a larger than life character, who liked to tell stories and about whom many tales are still told today by brass players and other musicians alike.
He has a loyal band of former students, who often regarded him as a guru or mentor figure and who still continue to pass on his trumpet technique and philosophies to this day. A Wilbraham pupil was prepared not just for blowing the instrument, but for living the life of a jobbing musician.
It is with this background as an inspirational teacher, player and friend that this site has been established, in order for people to share their memories of the big man and to continue his enduring legacy.
A Short Biography
John Wilbraham was born in Bournemouth on 15 April 1944. From 1962 to 1965 he studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where he was awarded the Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. Subsequently, he also studied with the legendary French player Maurice Andre. His career began in 1966, with the New Philharmonia Orchestra. He made his first solo recording the following year. Thereafter, he was Principal Trumpet of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and in the late 1980s, Co-Principal of the Philharmonia.
As performer and recording artist, John was particularly associated with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and with the English Chamber Orchestra. He also played for Karl Richter’s Munich Bach Orchestra, and for five year was a member of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. A brilliant player of baroque music on the piccolo trumpet, he was no less accomplished in the twentieth-century repertoire. His playing inspired a number of contemporary composers to write for him.
Wilbraham was both a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and Professor or Trumpet. He also taught at the Birmingham School of Music, the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall, the National Youth Orchestra and Wells Cathedral School. He was a member of the board of examiners of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and the Paris Conservatoire.
New: Here is a video we put together containing photos of John as a teenager, along with a rare recording of him at the age of 15 playing the trumpet and singing in a jazz band:
[Site designed and maintained by Antony Kearns]