One of Australia's most esteemed conductors and administrators, British-born John Hopkins OBE AM (19 July 1927 - 30 September 2013) trained as a cellist with Haydn Rogerson at the Royal Manchester College of Music, then studied conducting with Joseph Lewis at the Guildhall School, London, and with Carlo Zecchi at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. He became assistant conductor of the BBC Scottish Orchestra at a young age in 1949, then conductor of the BBC Northern Orchestra in 1952.
Hopkins moved to New Zealand in 1957 where he lead the National Orchestra of New Zealand (later NZSO) as well as the New Zealand Opera Company, and founded the New Zealand National Youth Orchestra. In 1963 he moved to Australia where he soon became recognised as an innovator. As Federal Director of Music for the ABC - a leadership position responsible for the activities of all the then ABC orchestras - he oversaw the most vibrant and prolific period in terms of performances of Australian music new and old. Hopkins initiated a concert series featuring avant-garde works by international composers as well as actively championing the work of Australian artists Peter Sculthorpe, Nigel Butterley and Richard Meale. He held the post until 1973.
Hopkins conducted the Melbourne and Sydney Symphony Orchestras, and completed numerous overseas tours to conduct orchestras from Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, the USSR, Canada, the USA, South Africa and Japan. Other career highs included becoming the founding Dean of the College of Music at the Victorian College of the Arts, and enjoying a six-year tenure as Director of Sydney Conservatorium of Music. John Hopkins was Convenor of Conducting and an Honorary Professorial Fellow in the School of Music at the University of Melbourne. He was awarded the APRA/AMC Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music in 2011.
Hopkins published his memoirs, The point of the baton (written in collaboration with William Cottam), in 2009.