At the request of his many friends, Jimmy Howe
wrote "A Conductor's Journey", with
over 40 photographs, the story of his fascinating musical
life of over 70 years.
Beginning in brass bands in north-east England before
joining the Royal Scots as a band boy in 1933, he described
Army discipline and the pre-war pleasure of making music
around the seaside resorts which was disrupted by the
outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.
Serving in France and Belgium as a
stretcher bearer, he was
prisoner by men of the SS Totenkopf Division and he
vividly recalled his experiences
of the battle, capture and the subsequent trek on foot
across the continent into Germany.
His time in the prison camp was not
wasted. With musical instruments obtained by exchanging
personal possessions with Polish prisoners, bartering with
German guards and others provided through Red Cross
channels, he formed a dance band which helped maintain the
morale of the British captives in Poland and Berlin.
After the war he was appointed Bandmaster of the Argyll
and Sutherland Highlanders with whom he served nine years
before being commissioned into the Scots Guards as
Lieutenant Director of Music.
Preparations and the exacting work that goes on behind the
scenes of ceremonial occasions such as Trooping the Colour,
the Annual Parade at the Cenotaph and providing the
orchestral music at Buckingham Palace are recounted with a
sense of humour.
Retiring from the Army in 1974 after 41
years service, his career took on another aspect.
Conductor with the BBC, appearances with Symphony
Orchestras at the Royal Albert Hall, then as an
entrepreneur presenting massed band concerts at major
venues throughout the country. His numerous anecdotes and
descriptions of unusual events experienced as an
adjudicator at Brass Band Festivals and while conducting
orchestral rehearsals show that there is a light as well
as a serious side to making music. He lived
in Eastbourne where he played
the cornet in local musical
ensembles and conducts bands on the town's famous
bandstand during the summer.
Jimmy died on 16th March 2005, aged 87.