John Rushby-Smith began his musical career at the age of 8 as a chorister in the cathedral choir of Southwell Minster. After leaving school he studied Music at Oxford University, where his tutors were Bernard Rose, Egon Wellesz and Edmund Rubbra. He joined the B.B.C. in 1962 as a Studio Manager and became Senior Music Studio Manager in 1966. In 1971 he was appointed as studio director of broadcasts by the B.B.C.Symphony Orchestra, a post he held until 1990, since when he has been working as an independent record producer.


While at the B.B.C. he undertook the sound supervision of several hundred Proms broadcasts, innumerable studio productions (including several operas) and countless live relays from a variety of major concert and operatic venues up and down the country and abroad. The operatic relays included two complete Ring Cycles from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He was appointed Technical Director for the major BBC/Barbican retrospective "Stockhausen - Music and Machines" in 1985. He has worked frequently with most of the world's major orchestras, ensembles, conductors and soloists, and has travelled extensively in the course of his work, both for the B.B.C. and as a freelance.  He contributed articles to various music and hi-fi journals and to the BBC Proms Prospectus, and has given talks on sound recording for BBC Radio 3 and for Radio France.   He speaks fluent French and German and is highly experienced in all studio techniques.   A composer in his own right, he has had works performed by leading artists and ensembles on radio in the UK, Europe and the US, as well as at international festivals.


His commercial record productions include recordings for BBC Records, CBS, EMI, EMI France, Erato, Etcetera, Finlandia, Fonit Cetra, Kiwi-Pacific, Largo, Marin Opera, Meridian, Redcliffe, RCA, RPO Records, Transatlantic, World Records (Canada) and others.  Artists include Pierre Amoyal, Dame Janet Baker, Daniel Barenboim, Richard Rodney Bennett, Pierre Boulez, José  van Dam, Maria Ewing, Margaret Field, Lawrence Foster, James Galway, Nicolai Gedda, Heather Harper, Barbara Hendricks, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Yvonne Kenny, Ernst Kovacic, Seiji Ozawa, Geoffrey Parsons, Krystof Penderecki, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Peter Serkin, Karlheinz Stockhausen and many others. (see under John’s Discography) 


In 1990 he undertook the production for EMI France of Georges Enesco's opera OEDIPE, conducted by Lawrence Foster and recorded in Monte Carlo with José  van Dam, Nicolai Gedda, Gabriel Bacquier, Brigitte Fassbaender, Marjana Lipovsek, Gino Quilico, Barbara Hendricks and others. The recording won le Prix de l'Academie Charles Cros, le Diapason d'Or de l'Année 1991, le Grand Prix de l'Academie du Disque Lyrique and le Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Academie du Disque Français.  This recording received overwhelming acclaim in the international press and was runner up for The Gramophone Record of the Year. Several other productions have won major awards, among them Gramophone Awards for the Erato recording of Pli selon Pli by Boulez and the EMI C.D. of Tippett's The Mask of Time with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, which also won the French Grand Prix de l'Academie Charles Cros; he also won the Prix du Disque for the best recording of French Opera with Rameau's Naïs for Erato.


John Rushby-Smith is an expert in the acoustical properties of concert halls. In 1987 he undertook extensive research on behalf of the BBC, which involved visits to over 70 major halls worldwide. He produced two monographs for the BBC, and gave a paper on the subject to the 1988 Cambridge Conference of the Institute of Acoustics, as a consequence of which and was elected as a Member of the Institute.


Talk “The Cave of Harmony” (on sound balance) for BBC Radio Three. Participation in debate on “Music Weekly” (Radio Three).

Article “How the Ring was Rung” for Studio Sound (about broadcasting Wagner's Ring Cycle from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden).

Articles “Broadcasting the Proms” in 1982 and 1986 Proms prospectuses.

Invited as participant in public debates from AES Paris 1986 and 1988 (Radio France).

BBC Delegate at 1975 EBU (European Broadcasting Union) Conference on music balance and A.R.D. Tonmeistertagung in Cologne.

BBC delegate at the Stockholm Conference on Electronic Music 1980. Frequent lecturer on BBC training courses.

Secondment to RTHK (Radio Hong Kong) as instructor in music production techniques 1982/3.

Invited as advisory participant in Australian Broadcasting Commission music producers' conference 1986.

Researched and wrote a two-part internal BBC publication “Current Trends in Auditorium Design for Music”  based on personal experience of over 70 concert halls around the world, commissioned a by BBC Programme Operations.

Invited by the Wheatland Foundation to participate in its Seminar on Orchestras, Jerusalem 1986.

Invited to give a paper “A Subjective Assessment of the Acoustical Properties of Concert Halls”  to the 1988 Institute of Acoustics Conference in Cambridge.  

Articles on the Production of Oedipe and on Beethoven's Diabelli Variations for the journal Classic CD.

Invited to contribute the chapter on Recording the Orchestra for The Cambridge Companion to the Orchestra, (Cambridge .University Press. 2003.)




Frequent reviewer of concerts for various journals in the Worcester, Gloucester, Hereford and Welsh Border areas, including the Western Mail, Hereford Times, Malvern Gazette and Ledbury Reporter. Major events covered include Welsh National Opera, Mid-Wales Opera, Three Choirs Festival, Presteigne Festival, Hereford Concert Society and Malvern Concert Club.




Frequent engagements to perform works by Babbitt, Berio, Birtwistle, Harvey, Reich, Stockhausen, Swayne, Varèse etc.,   Technical Director of BBC/Barbican “Stockhausen - Music and Machines” Festival 1985, for Giles Swayne's “Cry” (1987) at the QEH and for The Royal Festival Hall's Steve Reich Festival Autumn 1988.  Several performances (solo billing) as sound-projectionist at The Proms, The South Bank, The Edinburgh International Festival, The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and British Arts Council "Network" Tours.  Also abroad, including  the La Rochelle and Strasbourg-Musica Festivals in France, at Rolandseck (Bonn), the Liederhalle (Stuttgart) and the 1994 Musik Triennale, Köln in Germany,  at La Piccola Scala in Milan, the Maggio Musicale Festival in Florence and at Bologna, Perugia, Naples and Rome in Italy.


Fully fluent in French and German.


(See under John’s Compositions)


Painting (watercolour and acrylic); computer-aided artwork and design (including this website); add-on aircraft livery and panel design for MS Flight Simulator (see


Member of the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters; Member of the Performing Right Society; Founder member of the Sonic Arts Network; former Member of the Institute of Acoustics; Listed in the International Who's Who in Music and the British Music Year Book.


John Rushby-Smith’s works are published by Simrock, Chandos, Sonoton Pro Nova and  Sibelius Music



MARGARET  FIELD:  Biography  Repertoire  Reviews    JOHN RUSHBY-SMITH: Compositions  Discography  Talks