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Brian, (William) Havergal

age brian’s music english

Brian, (William) Havergal, English composer of extreme fecundity and longevity; b. Dresden, Staffordshire, Jan. 29, 1876; d. Shoreham-by-the-Sea, Sussex, Nov. 28, 1972. He studied violin, cello, and organ with local teachers; left school at age 12 to earn his living and help his father, who was a potter’s turner. At the same time he taught himself elementary theory and also learned French and German without an instructor. From 1904 to 1949 he engaged in musical journalism. He attained a reputation in England as a harmless eccentric possessed by inordinate ambitions to become a composer; he attracted supporters among English musicians, who in turn were derided as gullible admirers of a patent amateur. But Brian continued to write music in large symphonic forms; some of his works were performed, mostly by non- professional organizations; amazingly enough, he increased his productivity with age; he wrote 22 syms. after reaching the age of 80, and 7 more after the age of 90. The total number of syms. at the time of his death was 32. Finally, English musicians, critics, conductors, and concert organizations became aware of the Brian phenomenon, and performances, mostly posthumous, followed. A Havergal Brian Soc. was formed in London, and there were a few timorous attempts to further the Brian cause outside of England. The slow acceptance of Brian’s music was not due to his overindulgence in dissonance. Quite the contrary is true; Brian was not an innovator; he followed the Germanic traditions of Richard Strauss and Mahler in the spirit of unbridled grandiosity, architectural formidability, and rhapsodically quaquaversal thematicism. Brian’s modernism tended to be programmatic, as in the ominous whole-tone progressions in his opera The Tigers, illustrating the aerial attacks on London by zeppelins during World War I. Brian’s readiness to lend his MSS to anyone showing interest in his music resulted in the loss of several of his works; a few of them were retrieved after years of search.

Briccetti, Thomas (Bernard) [next] [back] Brian Urlacher - The Early Life of, The College Career of, The Professional Career of

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