Joseph Horovitz, 1926 - 2022

Joseph Horovitz
Composer who brought humour to classical music and was best known for his cantata Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo

Joseph Horovitz, who has died aged 95, was a composer, conductor, pianist and teacher best known for the biblical cantata Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo, a light-hearted and jazzy romp that has enthralled generations of school children.

Opening with a splendid storm and the voice of God muttering in irritation about humanity, Captain Noah uses a succession of lively choruses and musical styles to take performers and audiences through the building of the Ark, the animals’ embarkation in pairs, 40 days and nights of floods, and finally God’s promise to mankind with the rainbow.

Written to a lively text by Michael Flanders and largely sung in unison with piano accompaniment, the 26-minute work was first performed in 1971 by the King’s Singers with Horovitz at the piano. It won an Ivor Novello award in 1975 for best British work for children and continues to be popular with all ages. In 2018 John Wilson conducted a new orchestral version by the composer.

Joseph Horovitz, born May 26 1926, died February 9 2022