Bowman Aubrey

Aubrey Bowman

Bowman was born in Bournemouth on 16 May 1918, being born there rather than London since his parents wanted to be away from the threat of Zeppelin bombs. Subsequently, Aubrey’s father ran various bakeries in differing parts of the country, as well as selling and tuning pianos. His mother’s grandfather had been an active supporter of Charles Bradlaugh, a republic and freethinker politician of the 19th century.


Aubrey became a student at The Royal College of Music in 1934, when he was just sixteen. However, after his father died it was found that only one year’s tuition fees could be afforded, so Aubrey applied for the Royal Academy’s Sir Michael Costa Scholarship. Although he saw himself initially just as a pianist, the young man won the scholarship on the strength of an original orchestral composition. He found his tutor to be Alan Bush (see separate entry), who became a strong influence on Aubrey, as he in turn became on his teacher. Both became life-long Communists around the same time.


A founding member of the Workers' Music Association, Aubrey retained his connections with the organisation for the rest of his life, teaching, conducting and helping with administration.  


Called up at the start of the Second World War, Aubrey was deemed “unsuitable”, presumably because he was now a member of the Communist Party. He was actually demobbed as early as 1941.


Becoming a composer, conductor and pianist over the next decades, he also conducted ballet, and worked with the London Festival Ballet, the Sadlers Wells Theatre Ballet (later The Royal Ballet), and the National Ballet of Canada in Toronto.


He set music to ‘A World To Gain’, written by Frida Knight (see separate entry), a tribute to the ideas of William Morris.


In 1947 he wrote music to accompany a poem by William Gallagher MP (see separate entry) called Dartmoor.


He married in 1950 and had two daughters.


Aubrey was a strong supporter of the various friendship societies with socialist nations.


Bowman was also the Clarion Choir’s fourth president after many years association with them.


In the Noughties, he wrote regularly for the Morning Star on music themes.


He died in London on 13 December 2009, aged 91, from wounds sustained after being knocked down by a car the previous day.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply