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Havergal Brian

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Havergal Brian (c. 1900)
Havergal Brian (c. 1900)

Havergal Brian (born William Brian;[1] 29 January 1876 – 28 November 1972) was an English composer. He is best known for having composed 32 symphonies (an unusually high total for a 20th-century composer), most of them late in his life. His best-known work is his Symphony No. 1, The Gothic, which calls for some of the largest orchestral forces demanded by a conventionally structured concert work. He also composed five operas and a number of other orchestral works, as well as songs, choral music and a small amount of chamber music. Brian enjoyed a period of popularity earlier in his career and rediscovery in the 1950s, but public performances of his music have remained rare and he has been described as a cult composer.[2] He continued to be extremely productive late into his career, composing large works even into his nineties, most of which remained unperformed during his lifetime.

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Symphony No. 1 (Brian)

Symphony No. 1 (Brian)

The Symphony No. 1 in D minor is a symphony composed by Havergal Brian between 1919 and 1927. At around 105 minutes it is among the longest symphonies ever composed. Along with choral symphonies such as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony or Mahler's Eighth Symphony, it is one of a few works attempting to use the musically gigantic to address the spiritual concerns of humanity. Beginning in D minor and closing in E major, the work is an example of progressive tonality.

Opera

Opera

Opera is a form of theatre in which music is a fundamental component and dramatic roles are taken by singers. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor. Although musical theatre is closely related to opera, the two are considered to be distinct from one another.

Cult following

Cult following

A cult following refers to a group of fans who are highly dedicated to some person, idea, object, movement, or work, often an artist, in particular a performing artist, or an artwork in some medium. The lattermost is often called a cult classic. A film, book, musical artist, television series, or video game, among other things, is said to have a cult following when it has a small but very passionate fanbase. A common component of cult followings is the emotional attachment the fans have to the object of the cult following, often identifying themselves and other fans as members of a community. Cult followings are also commonly associated with niche markets. Cult media are often associated with underground culture, and are considered too eccentric or anti-establishment to be appreciated by the general public or to be widely commercially successful.

Life

Early life

William Brian (he adopted the name "Havergal" from a family of hymn-writers, of whom Frances Ridley Havergal was most prominent) was from the Potteries district of Staffordshire. He was born in Dresden, a suburb of Longton, one of the towns which make up what is now the city of Stoke-on-Trent. He was one of a very small number of composers to originate from the English working class.

Brian's earliest musical education appears to have been as a choirboy; he sang in the choir at St James' church in Longton.[3] In 1887 he and other choristers from his home town participated in a concert in Lichfield Cathedral marking the Jubilee of Queen Victoria. This experience gave the boy an interest in large-scale musical effects. At the age of 12, after leaving the elementary school attached to the church, he started work (he tried a variety of trades).[4] In his spare time, he continued to study music including the organ for which he showed talent at a young age; as a composer he was virtually self-taught.[5] From 1896 he was organist of All Saints', a Gothic Revival church in Odd Rode,[6] just across the county border in Cheshire. The post involved playing at Sunday services; his main job at this time was with a timber company.

Around the time he started at All Saints', he was influenced by hearing King Olaf, a composition for soloists, choir and orchestra by Edward Elgar.[7] Now one of the composer's lesser-known works, King Olaf was commissioned for the North Staffordshire Music Festival of 1896, where it was well received. Brian sent a sample composition to Elgar who gave him encouragement. Brian became a fervent enthusiast of the new music being produced by Richard Strauss and the British composers of the day. Through attending music festivals he began a lifelong friendship with composer Granville Bantock (1868–1946).

In 1898, Brian married Isabel Priestley, by whom he had five children. One of his sons was named Sterndale after the English composer Sir William Sterndale Bennett.

Full-time composer

In 1907 Brian was offered a yearly income of £500 (then a respectable lower-middle-class salary) by a local wealthy businessman, Herbert Minton Robinson, to enable him to devote all his time to composition. It seems Robinson expected Brian soon to become successful and financially independent on the strength of his compositions, and initially Brian indeed found success: his first English Suite attracted the attention of Henry J. Wood, who performed it at the London Proms in 1907. The work proved popular and Brian obtained a publisher and performances for his next few orchestral works, although this initial success was not maintained. For a while Brian worked on a number of ambitious large-scale choral and orchestral works, but felt no urgency to finish them, and began to indulge in pleasures such as expensive foods and a trip to Italy.

Arguments over the money and an affair with a young servant, Hilda Mary Hayward (1894-1980), led to the collapse of his first marriage in 1913. Brian fled to London and, although Robinson (who disapproved of the incident) continued to provide him with money until his own death, most of the allowance went to Brian's estranged wife after 1913. The affair with Hilda turned into a lifelong relationship: Brian and she began living together as man and wife, and after Isabel's death in 1933 they were married, by which point Hilda had already borne him another five children. No longer able to rely on Robinson's support, in London Brian began composing copiously whilst living in poverty. On the outbreak of World War I he volunteered for the Honourable Artillery Company but saw no service before he was invalided out with a hand injury. He subsequently worked at the Audit Office of the Canadian Expeditionary Force until December 1915. The family then moved to Erdington, near Birmingham, Warwickshire, until May 1919 and then spent several years in various locations in Sussex. His brief war service gave him the material for his first opera The Tigers. In the 1920s he turned to composing symphonies, though he had written more than ten before one of them was first performed in the early 1950s. Brian eventually obtained work of a musical kind, copying and arranging, and writing for the journal The British Bandsman. In 1927, he became assistant editor of the journal Musical Opinion and moved back to London.

In 1940 he retired, living firstly in London, and then in Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex. Freed from the requirement to work to make a living, he was able to devote all of his time to composition, and the bulk of his compositional output belongs to the last three decades of his life, including four of the five operas (composed between 1951 and 1957) and twenty-seven of the thirty-two symphonies (composed from 1948 onwards). Through most of the 1960s, Brian composed two or three symphonies each year.

This late flurry of activity coincided with something of a rediscovery, in part due to the efforts of Robert Simpson, himself a significant composer and BBC Music Producer, who asked Sir Adrian Boult to programme the Eighth Symphony in 1954. A number of Brian works received their public premieres during this time, including the Gothic Symphony. Written decades earlier between 1919 and 1927, it was premiered in a partly amateur performance in 1961 at Westminster Central Hall, conducted by Bryan Fairfax. A fully professional performance followed in 1966 at the Royal Albert Hall, conducted by Boult. The latter performance was broadcast live, encouraging considerable interest, and by his death six years later several of his works had been performed, along with the first commercial recordings of Brian's music. For a few years after Brian's death there was a revival of interest in Brian with a number of further recordings and performances; two biographies and a three-volume study of his symphonies appeared.

Renowned conductor Leopold Stokowski heard the Sinfonia Tragica (No. 6) and let it be known that he would like to perform a Brian work. The result was the world premiere in 1973 of the 28th Symphony, in a BBC broadcast produced by Robert Simpson in Maida Vale Studio 1, and played by the New Philharmonia Orchestra. Anthony Payne in his Daily Telegraph review wrote: "It was fascinating to contemplate the uniqueness of the event – a 91-year-old conductor learning a new work by a 91-year-old composer."[8]

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Hymn

Hymn

A hymn is a type of song, and partially synonymous with devotional song, specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification. The word hymn derives from Greek ὕμνος (hymnos), which means "a song of praise". A writer of hymns is known as a hymnist. The singing or composition of hymns is called hymnody. Collections of hymns are known as hymnals or hymn books. Hymns may or may not include instrumental accompaniment.

Frances Ridley Havergal

Frances Ridley Havergal

Frances Ridley Havergal was an English religious poet and hymnwriter. Take My Life and Let it Be and Thy Life for Me are two of her best known hymns. She also wrote hymn melodies, religious tracts, and works for children. She did not occupy, and did not claim for herself, a prominent place as a poet, but she carved out a niche for herself.

Dresden, Staffordshire

Dresden, Staffordshire

Dresden is a southern district of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, on Trentham Road (A5035) south of Longton.

Choirboy

Choirboy

A choirboy is a boy member of a choir, also known as a treble.

Lichfield Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, one of only three cathedrals in the United Kingdom with three spires, and the only medieval one of the three. It is the cathedral of the Diocese of Lichfield, which covers Staffordshire, much of Shropshire, and parts of the Black Country and West Midlands. It is the seat of the Bishop of Lichfield, currently Michael Ipgrave, who was appointed in 2016. It is a Grade I listed building.

Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria

Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria

The Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria was celebrated on 20 and 21 June 1887 to mark the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria's accession on 20 June 1837. It was celebrated with a Thanksgiving Service at Westminster Abbey, and a banquet to which 50 European kings and princes were invited.

All Saints Church, Scholar Green

All Saints Church, Scholar Green

All Saints Church is in the village of Scholar Green in the parish of Odd Rode, Cheshire, England. It is an Anglican parish church in the deanery of Congleton, the archdeaconry of Macclesfield, and the diocese of Chester. The church is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building.

Gothic Revival architecture

Gothic Revival architecture

Gothic Revival is an architectural movement that began in the late 1740s in England. The movement gained momentum and expanded in the first half of the 19th century, as increasingly serious and learned admirers of the neo-Gothic styles sought to revive medieval Gothic architecture, intending to complement or even supersede the neoclassical styles prevalent at the time. Gothic Revival draws upon features of medieval examples, including decorative patterns, finials, lancet windows, and hood moulds. By the middle of the 19th century, Gothic had become the preeminent architectural style in the Western world, only to fall out of fashion in the 1880s and early 1890s.

Cheshire

Cheshire

Cheshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in northwest England. It is bordered by the counties of Merseyside and Greater Manchester to the north, Derbyshire to the east, and Staffordshire and Shropshire to the south, while the west is bordered by the country of Wales. Cheshire's county town is the cathedral city of Chester, while its most populated town is Warrington. Other towns include Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Frodsham, Knutsford, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Runcorn, Widnes, Wilmslow, and Winsford. The county is split into four administrative districts: the Borough of Halton, the Borough of Warrington, Cheshire West and Chester, and Cheshire East.

Edward Elgar

Edward Elgar

Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet, was an English composer, many of whose works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire. Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. He also composed choral works, including The Dream of Gerontius, chamber music and songs. He was appointed Master of the King's Musick in 1924.

Granville Bantock

Granville Bantock

Sir Granville Ransome Bantock was a British composer of classical music.

Henry Wood

Henry Wood

Sir Henry Joseph Wood was an English conductor best known for his association with London's annual series of promenade concerts, known as the Proms. He conducted them for nearly half a century, introducing hundreds of new works to British audiences. After his death, the concerts were officially renamed in his honour as the "Henry Wood Promenade Concerts", although they continued to be generally referred to as "the Proms".

Music

Stylistically, Brian's music could broadly be described as being in a late romantic idiom, exhibiting the influence of Gustav Mahler in his ambitious orchestration and progressive tonality. A Germanophile – the text of the Psalms in his fourth symphony is sung in German – Brian's main musical influences are primarily Germanic composers like Wagner, Bruckner, Strauss, Mahler and Bach, as well as Elgar. Brian's music is fundamentally tonal rather than atonal and shows little or no influence of dodecaphony; however, it is often punctuated with violent and occasionally dissonant passages.

Brian's music has several recognisable hallmarks: the liking of extreme dotted rhythms, deep brass notes, and various uncharacteristic harp, piano and percussion timbres, and other unusual orchestral sounds and textures. Also typical are moments of stillness, such as the slow harp arpeggio that is heard near the beginning and ending of the Eighth Symphony. Arguably, his music's most notable characteristic however is its restlessness: rarely does one mood persist for long before it is contrasted, often abruptly, with another. Even in Brian's slow movements, lyrical meditation does not often structure the music for long before restless thoughts intrude. Although the fragmentary nature of his music militates against classical thematic unity, he often employs structural blocks of sound, where similar rhythms and thematic material allude to previous passages (as opposed to classical statement and recapitulation). However fragmentary Brian's music is, he maintains symphonic cohesion by long-term tonal processes (similar to Carl Nielsen's "progressive tonality"), where the music is aiming towards a key, rather than being in a home key and returning to it.

Like Bach and Bruckner, Brian was an organist, and the organ repertoire influenced his musical habits (and the organ appears in several of his symphonies). Other sources of influence are late Victorian street music, and particularly brass and military bands: although he composed little dedicated music for brass band, brass instruments are often prominent in Brian's orchestral music, as are marches.

Although he wrote music in a range of forms, Brian's most famous legacy is his cycle of 32 symphonies. His first canonical symphony – an earlier Fantastic Symphony was withdrawn – is the colossal Gothic Symphony, a performance of which last almost two hours and requires enormous orchestral and choral forces. It was completed in 1927. Although the Gothic is by far Brian's best-known work, and perhaps the work by which he has come to be defined, it is not representative of his symphonies as a whole. Few of Brian's symphonies call for larger forces than a typical 20th-century symphony orchestra – although No. 4 (Das Siegeslied) calls for a large choir and soprano soloist – and a typical Brian symphony lasts approximately twenty minutes in performance. Brian usually alludes to the classical four-movement structure of the symphony, even in single-movement works. His sixth symphony was composed at the age of 72, and the majority of Brian's symphonies were composed in rapid succession in the last two decades of his life, in his 80s and even into his 90s. Most were unperformed during Brian's own life, although all thirty-two have since been recorded.

In addition to symphonies, Brian also composed several large operas in the 1950s. In 1997, Brian's 1951 opera in eight scenes The Cenci, based on the 1819 play by Percy Bysshe Shelley, was premiered in a concert performance by the Millennium Sinfonia, conducted by James Kelleher, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.[9]

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Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler was an Austro-Bohemian Romantic composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation. As a composer he acted as a bridge between the 19th-century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century. While in his lifetime his status as a conductor was established beyond question, his own music gained wide popularity only after periods of relative neglect, which included a ban on its performance in much of Europe during the Nazi era. After 1945 his compositions were rediscovered by a new generation of listeners; Mahler then became one of the most frequently performed and recorded of all composers, a position he has sustained into the 21st century.

Progressive tonality

Progressive tonality

Progressive tonality is the music compositional practice whereby a piece of music does not finish in the key in which it began, but instead 'progresses' to an ending in a different key or tonality. In this connection 'different key' means a different tonic, rather than merely a change to a different mode : Gustav Mahler's Second Symphony (1888–94), for example, which moves from a C minor start to an E-flat major conclusion, exhibits 'progressive tonality'—whereas Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (1804–08), which begins in C minor and ends in C major, does not. A work which ends in the key in which it began may be described as exhibiting 'concentric tonality'. The terms 'progressive' and 'concentric' were both introduced into musicology by Dika Newlin in her book Bruckner, Mahler, Schoenberg (1947).

Germanophile

Germanophile

A Germanophile, Teutonophile, or Teutophile is a person who is fond of German culture, German people and Germany in general, or who exhibits German patriotism in spite of not being either an ethnic German or a German citizen. The love of the German way, called "Germanophilia" or "Teutonophilia", is the opposite of Germanophobia.

Psalms

Psalms

The Book of Psalms, also known as the Psalms, or the Psalter, is the first book of the Ketuvim ("Writings"), the third section of the Tanakh, and a book of the Old Testament. The title is derived from the Greek translation, ψαλμοί, meaning "instrumental music" and, by extension, "the words accompanying the music". The book is an anthology of individual Hebrew religious hymns, with 150 in the Jewish and Western Christian tradition and more in the Eastern Christian churches. Many are linked to the name of David, but modern mainstream scholarship rejects his authorship, instead attributing the composition of the psalms to various authors writing between the 9th and 5th centuries BC. In the Quran, the Arabic word ‘Zabur’ is used for the Psalms of David in the Hebrew Bible.

German language

German language

German is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and the Italian province of South Tyrol. It is also a co-official language of Luxembourg and Belgium, as well as a recognized national language in Namibia. Outside Germany, it is also spoken by German communities in France (Bas-Rhin), Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary (Sopron).

Anton Bruckner

Anton Bruckner

Josef Anton Bruckner was an Austrian composer, organist, and music theorist best known for his symphonies, masses, Te Deum and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, strongly polyphonic character, and considerable length. Bruckner's compositions helped to define contemporary musical radicalism, owing to their dissonances, unprepared modulations, and roving harmonies.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the late Baroque period. He is known for his orchestral music such as the Brandenburg Concertos; instrumental compositions such as the Cello Suites; keyboard works such as the Goldberg Variations and The Well-Tempered Clavier; organ works such as the Schubler Chorales and the Toccata and Fugue in D minor; and vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach revival he has been generally regarded as one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music.

Edward Elgar

Edward Elgar

Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet, was an English composer, many of whose works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire. Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. He also composed choral works, including The Dream of Gerontius, chamber music and songs. He was appointed Master of the King's Musick in 1924.

Atonality

Atonality

Atonality in its broadest sense is music that lacks a tonal center, or key. Atonality, in this sense, usually describes compositions written from about the early 20th-century to the present day, where a hierarchy of harmonies focusing on a single, central triad is not used, and the notes of the chromatic scale function independently of one another. More narrowly, the term atonality describes music that does not conform to the system of tonal hierarchies that characterized European classical music between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. "The repertory of atonal music is characterized by the occurrence of pitches in novel combinations, as well as by the occurrence of familiar pitch combinations in unfamiliar environments".

Carl Nielsen

Carl Nielsen

Carl August Nielsen was a Danish composer, conductor and violinist, widely recognized as his country's most prominent composer.

March (music)

March (music)

A march, as a musical genre, is a piece of music with a strong regular rhythm which in origin was expressly written for marching to and most frequently performed by a military band. In mood, marches range from the moving death march in Wagner's Götterdämmerung to the brisk military marches of John Philip Sousa and the martial hymns of the late 19th century. Examples of the varied use of the march can be found in Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, in the Marches Militaires of Franz Schubert, in the Marche funèbre in Chopin's Sonata in B flat minor, the "Jäger March" in the Op. 91a by Jean Sibelius, and in the Dead March in Handel's Saul.

Opera

Opera

Opera is a form of theatre in which music is a fundamental component and dramatic roles are taken by singers. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor. Although musical theatre is closely related to opera, the two are considered to be distinct from one another.

Reception and legacy

Brian's musical influence was limited by the fact that so little of his music was performed or recorded until after his death, by which time his stylistic idiom could be considered anachronistic. Nonetheless, he was held in high regard by composers such as Robert Simpson and some of his contemporaries, such as Granville Bantock. His music has generally been championed by a small number of enthusiasts rather than enjoying a more general popularity, and continues to divide opinion. To Mark Morris, writing in his Guide to Twentieth Century Composers, in the Gothic Symphony Brian achieved "one of the world's artistic masterpieces, in vision, grandeur, and in the combination of complexity and luminosity worthy to stand alongside the great cathedrals of the age that inspired it... [it] is arguably, more than any other late-Romantic work, the climax of the Romantic age.".[10] Writing in The Spectator in 2016, Damian Thompson claimed that if Brian's thirtieth symphony were premiered today as the work of a 25-year-old composer, it "might even be hailed as the triumphant reinvention of tonality".[11]

Others have been more critical, however. Reviewing the 2011 performance of the Gothic Symphony at the BBC Proms David Nice of The Arts Desk described the work as a "terrible, inchoate mess" and "Big, long, and very short on great ideas";[12] writing in The Guardian, Andrew Clements described it as featuring "moments of striking originality, particularly the sparer, more spectral ideas, but much more is either entirely unmemorable or simply grotesquely odd, and often hopelessly over-scored. Ideas come and go; for a work that lasts nearly two hours, the music is surprisingly short-winded."[13]

In 2022 Brian's Legend for violin and piano was featured in the BBC Proms.[14]

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Robert Simpson (composer)

Robert Simpson (composer)

Robert Wilfred Levick Simpson was an English composer, as well as a long-serving BBC producer and broadcaster.

Granville Bantock

Granville Bantock

Sir Granville Ransome Bantock was a British composer of classical music.

The Spectator

The Spectator

The Spectator is a weekly British magazine on politics, culture, and current affairs. It was first published in July 1828, making it the oldest surviving weekly magazine in the world.

Damian Thompson

Damian Thompson

Damian Thompson is an English journalist, editor and author. He is an associate editor of The Spectator. Previously he worked as editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald and for The Daily Telegraph where he was religious affairs correspondent and later blogs editor and a Saturday columnist.

BBC Proms

BBC Proms

The BBC Proms or Proms, formally named the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts Presented by the BBC, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in central London. The Proms were founded in 1895, and are now organised and broadcast by the BBC. Each season consists of concerts in the Royal Albert Hall, chamber music concerts at Cadogan Hall, additional Proms in the Park events across the UK on the Last Night of the Proms, and associated educational and children's events. The season is a significant event in British culture and in classical music. Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek described the Proms as "the world's largest and most democratic musical festival".

List of works

These lists follow the Havergal Brian Society's Extant Works (ordered by type):[15]

Operas

  • The Tigers (1917–29)
  • Agamemnon (1957)
  • The Cenci (1951–52)
  • Faust (1955–56)
  • Turandot, Prinzessin von China (1951)

Symphonies

  • Symphony No. 1 in D minor (The Gothic) (1919–27), for SATB soli, children's choir, two double choirs & orchestra
  • Symphony No. 2 in E minor (1930–31)
  • Symphony No. 3 in C-sharp minor (1931–32)
  • Symphony No. 4, "Das Siegeslied" (1932–33), for soprano, double choir & orchestra
  • Symphony No. 5, "Wine of Summer" (1937), for baritone & orchestra
  • Symphony No. 6, "Sinfonia Tragica" (1948)
  • Symphony No. 7 in C major (1948)
  • Symphony No. 8 in B-flat minor (1949)
  • Symphony No. 9 in A minor (1951)
  • Symphony No. 10 in C minor (1953–54)
  • Symphony No. 11 in B-flat minor (1954)
  • Symphony No. 12 (1957)
  • Symphony No. 13 in C major (1959)
  • Symphony No. 14 in F minor (1959–60)
  • Symphony No. 15 in A major (1960)
  • Symphony No. 16 in C-sharp minor (1960)
  • Symphony No. 17 (1960–61)
  • Symphony No. 18 (1961)
  • Symphony No. 19 in E minor (1961)
  • Symphony No. 20 in C-sharp minor (1962)
  • Symphony No. 21 in E-flat major (1963)
  • Symphony No. 22, "Symphonia Brevis" (1964–65)
  • Symphony No. 23 (1965)
  • Symphony No. 24 in D major (1965)
  • Symphony No. 25 in A minor (1965–66)
  • Symphony No. 26 (1966)
  • Symphony No. 27 in C major (1966)
  • Symphony No. 28 in C minor (1967)
  • Symphony No. 29 in E-flat major (1967)
  • Symphony No. 30 in B-flat minor (1967)
  • Symphony No. 31 (1968)
  • Symphony No. 32 in A-flat (1968)

Other orchestral music

  • Abend, from "Faust" (1956)
  • Burlesque Variations on an Original Theme (1903)
  • Concerto for Orchestra (1964)
  • Doctor Merryheart, Comedy Overture No. 1 (1911–12)
  • Elegy, Symphonic Poem (1954)
  • English Suite 1 (?1902-04)
  • English Suite 3 (1919–21)
  • English Suite 4 "Kindergarten" (?1924)
  • English Suite 5 "Rustic Scenes" (1953)
  • Fanfare, from "The Cenci", Banqueting Scene (1951)
  • Fanfare, from "The Cenci", Scene 7 (1951)
  • Fantastic Variations on an Old Rhyme (1907) – Derived from the withdrawn Fantastic Symphony[a]
  • Festal Dance (1908) – Derived from the withdrawn Fantastic Symphony
  • Festival Fanfare (1967), for brass
  • Flourish, from "The Cenci" (1951)
  • For Valour, Overture (1902, rev 1906)
  • Gargoyles, from "The Tigers" (1921–22)
  • Green Pastures, from "The Tigers" (1921–22)
  • In Memoriam, Symphonic Poem (1910)
  • The Jolly Miller, Comedy Overture No. 3 (1962)
  • Lacryma, from "The Tigers" (1921–22)
  • Legend "Ave atque vale" (1968)
  • Night Ride of Faust and Mephistopheles, from "Faust" (1956)
  • Prelude, from Faust Act 2 (1956)
  • Preludio Tragico, Overture to "The Cenci" (1951)
  • Shadow Dance, from "The Tigers" (1921–22)
  • Symphonic Variations, from "The Tigers" (1921–22)
  • The Tinker's Wedding, Comedy Overture No. 2 (1948)
  • Three Pieces from Turandot, from "Turandot" Act I (1950-51/1962)
  • Turandot Suite, from "Turandot" Acts II & III (1950–51)
  • Wild Horsemen, from "The Tigers" (1921–22)

Concerti

  • Cello Concerto (1964)
  • Violin Concerto (1935)

Chorus, with or without piano

  • Introit (1924), unaccompanied
  • 27 unaccompanied partsongs
  • 36 accompanied partsongs, with piano, one with flute & harp; 7 of which are unison songs

Voice and orchestra

  • Cathedral scene, from "Faust" Act 3 (1956), soprano, bass, choir & orchestra
  • Gretchen songs, from "Faust" (1956), soprano & orchestra
  • Herrick songs (1912), soprano, alto & orchestra
  • Psalm 23 (1901, reconstructed 1945), tenor, choir & orchestra

Voice and piano

  • 32 Songs

Chamber ensemble

  • Legend (1919?), violin & piano

Piano

  • Double Fugue in E-flat (1924)
  • Three Illuminations (1916), with speaker
  • Four Miniatures (1919–20)
  • Prelude "John Dowland's Fancy" (1934)
  • Prelude and Fugue in C minor (1924)
  • Prelude and Fugue in D minor/major (1924)

Transcriptions

  • Various on works by Arne, J.C. Bach, J.S. Bach, Berlioz, Elgar Glinka, Gluck, Handel, (Basil) Maine, Spontini and Wagner

Recordings

The first commercial recording of Havergal Brian's music was made by the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra in 1972, when Symphonies Nos. 10 and 21, conducted by James Loughran and Eric Pinkett respectively, were recorded at the De Montfort Hall, Leicester. The producer was Robert Simpson. The LP was released by Unicorn Records in 1973. A special edition of the television programme Aquarius called The Unknown Warrior gave considerable coverage to the recording session and a camera crew joined members of the orchestra during a visit they made to the composer's home in Shoreham.

During the 1970s a number of unofficial releases of Brian symphonies were made. These generally were of BBC recordings, and the recordings were released under fictitious names. Several have now had official releases.

In 1979, Cameo Classics embarked on a project to record all of Brian's orchestral music in collaboration with the Havergal Brian Society. It started with the English Suite No. 1, Doctor Merryheart, and Fantastic Variations on an Old Rhyme. In 1980 came the second LP containing In Memoriam, For Valour, and Festal Dance. The project was completed in 1981 with the recordings of Burlesque Variations on an Original Theme, and Two Herrick Songs, Requiem for the Rose and The Hag. The recordings were produced by David Kent-Watson with the Hull Youth Orchestra conducted by Geoffrey Heald-Smith. For the recording of Brian's complete piano music, Cameo Classics employed digital technology. Peter Hill's performances on a Bösendorfer Imperial at the Northern College of Music earned high praise from John Ogdon in his review for Tempo.

More of Brian's works have been published since the 1980s and '90s, and the scarcity of well-rehearsed performances or mature interpretations that had previously made the quality of his music difficult to assess has been partially corrected through the series of professional recordings of many of Brian's symphonies that have been issued by the Marco Polo record label on CD. Many of the original recordings on various labels are being reissued, and by the end of 2018 all of Brian's symphonies had at least one official recording, although not necessarily in print.

In August 2010, the Dutton CD label issued three works taken from 1959 BBC broadcasts: the Comedy Overture Doctor Merryheart and 11th Symphony (with Harry Newstone conducting the London Symphony Orchestra) and the 9th Symphony (Norman del Mar and the LSO). This release followed on from Testament's reissue of the live recording of the 1966 Boult performance in the Royal Albert Hall of Brian's Gothic Symphony. In the 2011 Proms concert season the symphony was conducted by Martyn Brabbins in the Royal Albert Hall; the performance is now available on a commercial recording.

In July 2012, a documentary film, "The Curse of the Gothic Symphony" was released in Australian cinemas. Directed by Randall Wood, it is a dramatised documentary of the trials and tribulations of staging Brian's Gothic Symphony in Brisbane, Queensland. Filmed over five years, the enormous task of gathering 200 musicians and 400 choristers came to fruition in 2010 in a triumphal performance and standing ovation in Brisbane's Performing Arts centre.

Recordings of the symphonies

Here is a partial list of known recordings for Havergal Brian's symphonies; many are out of print, others have never been released commercially; some have been released in bootleg format or exist in BBC archives:

No. Key/name Conductor Orchestra Recording Date CD version
No. 1 D minor, "The Gothic" Adrian Boult BBCSO 1966 Yes
Ondrej Lenárd Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra 1989 Yes
Martyn Brabbins BBC National Chorus of Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra 2010 Yes
No. 2 E minor Anthony Rowe Moscow Symphony Orchestra 2007 Yes
Martyn Brabbins Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2016 Yes
No. 3 C-sharp minor Stanley Pope New Philharmonic Orchestra 1974 Yes
Lionel Friend BBCSO 1988 Yes
No. 4 "Das Siegeslied" (Psalm of Victory) Adrian Leaper Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra 2007 Yes
No. 5 "The Wine of Summer" Martyn Brabbins Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2015 Yes
No. 6 "Sinfonia Tragica" Myer Fredman London Philharmonic Orchestra 1975 Yes
Alexander Walker New Russia State Symphony Orchestra 2014 Yes
No. 7 C major Charles Mackerras Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra 1978 Yes
No. 8 B-flat minor Charles Groves RLPO 1978 Yes
Alexander Walker New Russia State Symphony Orchestra 2017 Yes
Rudolf Schwarz BBCSO 1958 Web(e)
No. 9 A minor Norman Del Mar LSO 1959 Yes
Charles Groves RLPO 1978 Yes
No. 10 C minor Stanley Pope Philharmonia Orchestra 1958 Web(e)
Martyn Brabbins Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2010 Yes
James Loughran Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra 1973 Yes
No. 11 untitled Harry Newstone LSO 1959 Yes
Adrian Leaper National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland 1993 Yes
No. 12 untitled Adrian Leaper CSR Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava) 1992 Yes
Harry Newstone LSO 1959 Web (e)
No. 13 C major Martyn Brabbins Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2012 Yes
No. 14 F minor Edward Downes LSO& 1969
Anthony Rowe National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland 1997 Yes
Martyn Brabbins Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2016 Yes
No. 15 untitled Anthony Rowe RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra 1997 Yes
No. 16 untitled Myer Fredman London Philharmonic Orchestra 1973 Yes
No. 17 untitled Stanley Pope New Philharmonic Orchestra 1976 Yes
Adrian Leaper National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland 1992 Yes
No. 19 E minor John Canarina BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra& 1976
Martyn Brabbins Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2015 Yes
No. 20 C-sharp minor Andrew Penny National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine 1994 Yes
No. 21 E-flat Eric Pinkett Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra 1973 Yes
Alexander Walker New Russia State Symphony Orchestra 2017 Yes
No. 22 "Symphonia Brevis" László Heltay Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra & 1974 Yes (d)
Alexander Walker New Russia State Symphony Orchestra 2012 Yes
No. 23 untitled Alexander Walker New Russia State Symphony Orchestra 2012 Yes
No. 24 D major Myer Fredman LPO && 1975
Alexander Walker New Russia State Symphony Orchestra 2012 Yes
No. 25 A minor Andrew Penny NSO Ukraine 1994 Yes
No. 26 untitled Vernon Handley New Philharmonia Orchestra &&& 1976
Alexander Walker New Russia State Symphony Orchestra 2017 Yes
No. 27 C minor Charles Mackerras Philharmonia Orchestra&&&& 1979
Martyn Brabbins Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2015 Yes
No. 28 C minor Alexander Walker New Russia State Symphony Orchestra 2014 Yes
No. 29 E-flat Nicholas Smith North Staffordshire Symphony Orchestra&&&& 1976
Alexander Walker New Russia State Symphony Orchestra 2014 Yes
No. 30 B-flat minor Martyn Brabbins RSNO 2010 Yes
No. 31 untitled Charles Mackerras RLPO 1987 Yes
Alexander Walker New Russia State Symphony Orchestra 2014 Yes
No. 32 untitled Adrian Leaper National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland 1992 Yes

&=out of print LP
&&=released on a pirated LP with apocryphal attributions to Horst Werner (conductor)/ Hamburg Philharmonic[16][17]
&&&= released in a (pirated) LP box-set with (presumed) apocryphal attributions to John Freedman (conductor)/ Edinburgh Youth Symphony Orchestras[16][17]
&&&&=recording from original BBC broadcast exists, not commercially released[18]
&&&&&=recording from BBC radio 3 exists, not commercially released; a pirated LP (Aries LP-1607) with apocryphal attributions to Horst Werner (conductor)/ Hamburg Philharmonic is reported[19] and refers to this Stokowski performance [17]
d=cd was made, but is now deleted from catalogue
e=recording is in the public domain and is available from the Havergal Brian Society webpage[20]
Both the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra recordings have been remastered and rereleased.[21]
Many of the BBC recordings are freely available for download with registration.[22]

Discover more about Recordings related topics

Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra

Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra

The Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra (LSSO) is a youth orchestra based in Leicester, England. The players, aged between 15 and 18, are all drawn from secondary schools in the county of Leicestershire and the City of Leicester.

James Loughran

James Loughran

James Loughran CBE, DMus., FRNCM, FRSAMD is a conductor.

Eric Pinkett

Eric Pinkett

Eric Pinkett O.B.E. (1910–1979), was the founder of the internationally famous Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra. He established the Leicestershire County School of Music in 1948 and continued to conduct the orchestra until his retirement in 1976.

De Montfort Hall

De Montfort Hall

De Montfort Hall is the largest music and performance venue in Leicester, England. It is situated adjacent to Victoria Park and is named after the "Father of Parliament", Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester.

Leicester

Leicester

Leicester is a city, unitary authority area, unparished area and the county town of Leicestershire in the East Midlands of England. It is the largest settlement in the East Midlands.

Bösendorfer

Bösendorfer

Bösendorfer is an Austrian piano manufacturer and, since 2008, a wholly owned subsidiary of Yamaha Corporation. Bösendorfer is unusual in that it produces 97- and 92-key models in addition to instruments with standard 88-key keyboards.

John Ogdon

John Ogdon

John Andrew Howard Ogdon was an English pianist and composer.

Adrian Boult

Adrian Boult

Sir Adrian Cedric Boult, CH was an English conductor. Brought up in a prosperous mercantile family, he followed musical studies in England and at Leipzig, Germany, with early conducting work in London for the Royal Opera House and Sergei Diaghilev's ballet company. His first prominent post was conductor of the City of Birmingham Orchestra in 1924. When the British Broadcasting Corporation appointed him director of music in 1930, he established the BBC Symphony Orchestra and became its chief conductor. The orchestra set standards of excellence that were rivalled in Britain only by the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), founded two years later.

Ondrej Lenárd

Ondrej Lenárd

Ondrej Lenárd is a Slovak conductor. He was principal conductor of the Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1977 to 1990 and of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra from 1991 to 2001, where his concert work included performances of Ján Levoslav Bella's Wieland der Schmied. His recordings include a Marco Polo issue of the Symphony No. 1 of Havergal Brian, and a Naxos recording of the complete Nutcracker. In 2019, he became chief conductor for the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Martyn Brabbins

Martyn Brabbins

Martyn Charles Brabbins is a British conductor. The fourth of five children in his family, he learned to play the euphonium, and then the trombone during his youth at Towcester Studio Brass Band. He later studied composition at Goldsmiths, University of London. He subsequently studied conducting with Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatory.

Adrian Leaper

Adrian Leaper

Adrian Leaper is an English conductor.

Myer Fredman

Myer Fredman

Myer Fredman was a British-Australian conductor.

Source: "Havergal Brian", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 29th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havergal_Brian.

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Footnotes
  1. ^ The "Old Rhyme" is "Three Blind Mice".
References
  1. ^ "Classical Net - Basic Repertoire List - Brian". Classical.net. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  2. ^ Hurwitz, David. "Classics Today: Brian's Enigmatic and Uplifting Symphonies 22-24". Classicstoday.com. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  3. ^ "The composer of the Gothic: Havergal Brian (extract from Nettel's biography of the composer)". Nssohistory.blogspot.com. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  4. ^ MacDonald, M. Brian, (William) Havergal (1876–1972), composer. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 15 Oct. 2021, from https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-30849. Subscription or UK public library membership required.
  5. ^ Clements, Robert. "William Havergal Brian". Classical.net.
  6. ^ Kenneth, Walton. "Classical & Opera: The Gothic novelty of mass participation". Lifestyle.scotsman.com. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  7. ^ "Havergal Brian and Elgar". Havergalbrian.org.
  8. ^ McGovern, Martin (2008). The Octogenarian Ski-Jumper. p. 172. ISBN 9781445210612. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  9. ^ Martin Anderson (19 December 1997). "Classical: The new life of Brian's 'Cenci'". The Independent. London, UK. Archived from the original on 9 May 2022. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  10. ^ Morris, Mark. "Guide to Twentieth Century Composers". Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  11. ^ Thompson, Damian (12 May 2016). "Unsung Hero". The Spectator. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
  12. ^ Nice, David (17 July 2011). "BBC Proms: Havergal Brian's 'Gothic' Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra, BBCNOW, Brabbins". Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  13. ^ Clements, Andrew (18 July 2011). "Prom 4: Gothic Symphony Review". The Spectator. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
  14. ^ "Proms at Bristol: Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien". Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  15. ^ The Havergal Brian Society (2017). "Havergal Brian Society's Exant Works (ordered by type)". website. UK. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  16. ^ a b "Havergal Brian: Symphonies Nos 13, 15, 17, 20, 24 & 26" Performed By Horst Werner/Hamburg Philharmonic, Peter Michaels/Lisbon Conservatory and John Freedman/Edinburgh Youth Symphony Orchestras, LP box Set: Music". Amazon.com. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  17. ^ a b c "Discography". Havergalbrian.org. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  18. ^ "Symphony 27". Havergalbrian.org. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  19. ^ "Havergal Brian: Symphony No. 28 & Violin Concerto [LP Record]: Havergal Brian, Horst Werner, The Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Emil Leibowitz: Music". Amazon.com. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  20. ^ "the official website". Havergalbrian.org. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  21. ^ "KH Home". Klassichaus.us. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  22. ^ "Unsung Composers - Index". Unsungcomposers.com. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
Books
  • Eastaugh, Kenneth. Havergal Brian, the making of a composer. London: Harrap. c 1976. ISBN 0-245-52748-6
  • MacDonald, Malcolm. The Symphonies of Havergal Brian (Discussion in 3 volumes—volume 1: Symphonies 1–12; volume 2: Symphonies 13–29; volume 3: Symphonies 30–32, Survey, and Summing-up.) London: Kahn & Averill, 1974–1983. ISBN 0-900707-28-3.
  • MacDonald, Malcolm, ed. Havergal Brian on music: selections from his journalism. London: Toccata Press, c 1986. ISBN 0-907689-19-1 (v.1).
  • Nettel, Reginald. Ordeal by Music: The Strange Experience of Havergal Brian. London and New York: Oxford University Press. c 1945.
  • Nettel, Reginald (also Foreman, Lewis). Havergal Brian and his music. London: Dobson. c 1976. ISBN 0-234-77861-X.
  • Matthew-Walker, Robert. "Havergal Brian: Reminiscences and Observations". DGR Books 1995. ISBN 1-898343-04-7.
External links

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