Dennis Brain: A Life in Music


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Hardcover ISBN-13:9781574413076
Hardcover ISBN-10: 1574413074
Physical Description: 6x9. 400 pp. 69 b&w photos. Notes. Bib. Index.
Publication Date: May 2011
Series: North Texas Lives of Musicians Series | Volume: 7
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Award(s):
  • Certificate of Merit for Best Research in Recorded Classical Music, an ARSC Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, 2012
Annotation:

The British horn player Dennis Brain (1921-1957) is commonly described by such statements as “the greatest horn player of the 20th Century,” “a genius,” and “a legend.” He was both a prodigy and popularizer, famously performing a concerto on a garden hose in perfect pitch. On his usual concert instrument his tone was of unsurpassed beauty and clarity, complemented by a flawless technique. The recordings he made with Herbert von Karajan of Mozart’s horn concerti are considered the definitive interpretations.

After joining the National Symphony Orchestra of London, Brain enlisted in the English armed forces during World War II for seven years, joining the National Symphony Orchestra in wartime in 1942. After the war he filled the principal horn positions in both the Philharmonia and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras. He later formed his own wind quintet and began conducting. Composers including Benjamin Britten and Paul Hindemith lined up to write music for him. Even fifty years after his tragic death at the age of 36 in an auto accident in 1957, Peter Maxwell Davies was commissioned to write a piece in his honor.

Stephen Gamble and William Lynch have conducted numerous interviews with family, friends, and colleagues and uncovered information in the BBC archives and other lesser known sources about recordings that were previously unknown. This volume describes Brain’s life and analyzes in depth his musical career. Its appendices of information on performances will appeal to music historians, and its details on Brain’s instruments and equipment will be useful to horn players.

“A pleasure to read: serious but personable, unaffected, unpretentious–conversational in tone. The character of the prose can be said to reflect the character of the book’s subject. Eminently satisfying.”—Robert Marshall, author of Dennis Brain on Record

“Since a great deal of new material has been found by the authors, it is exciting for horn players to anticipate the publication of this book.”—William Scharnberg, Regents Professor of Horn, University of North Texas

About Author:

STEPHEN GAMBLE and WILLIAM LYNCH are both independent researchers who have been fascinated with Dennis Brain for decades. Lynch, an amateur horn player himself, is a semi-retired aerospace corporation executive with four U.S. patents to his name. Stephen Gamble is a British artist who started playing the horn in 2003.