Dennis Brain: A Life in Music

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University of North Texas Press, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 384 pages
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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.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.
 

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Contents

Chapter 1 The Early Years 19211939
1
Chapter 2 The RAF Years 19391946
15
Chapter 3 The Brain Quintet and Ensemble
35
Chapter 4 Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
55
Chapter 5 Philharmonia Orchestra
75
Chapter 6 A Horn Virtuosos Letters
96
Chapter 7 Teacher and Lecturer
109
Chapter 8 Reminiscences by Colleagues
122
Acknowledgments
234
Discography
240
Appendix A Brain Ensemble Music Library
279
Appendix B The Early Horn
282
Appendix C Talking About the Horn
286
Appendix D Articles
288
Appendix E Extended Bibliography
297
Endnotes
321

Chapter 9 The LegacyHorn Players Look Back
134
Chapter 10 Selected Performances
157
Chapter 11 Horns Mouthpieces and Embouchures
189
Chapter 12 New Directions
213

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About the author (2011)

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.

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