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Appendix B The Early Horn

Stephen Gamble and William Lynch University of North Texas Press PDF

APPENDIX

B

The Early Horn

The script for “The Early Horn” is preserved on microfilm at the BBC Written Archives near

Reading. Private recordings of most of the actual broadcast have been preserved by enthusiasts.

The following is a reconstruction of this program, using the surviving tape fragments from private sources, and Brain’s BBC script. The BBC did not preserve the recording made on July 6 and 11, 1955. Nearly all the music is preserved on the tapes, but some of the extracts and scales

Brain played, as well as part of his talk, are missing. For these missing passages, references are to the BBC script and appear in bold.1

Horn Call: Méhul 2

Hose-pipe

Raoux 1818 hand horn

Alexander B-flat single horn with valves

The instruments that you’ve just heard range from 1818 up to the present day—in fact, from the sublime to the ridiculous—the first being the most modern and cheapest; the second an old French hand-horn with the date 1818 and floral pattern inscribed on the bell; the third being my usual every-day instrument, an Alexander. In case you’re curious about the first example, the reason is simple, that I have included it to show that on any tube containing a column of air a series of notes, determined by nature, can be produced. And as that fact is almost the point of this programme, it is not inappropriate that one should begin with a common, or rather garden object, which I imagine has not been broadcast before—a hose-pipe.

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Chapter 2 The RAF Years (1939–1946)

Stephen Gamble and William Lynch University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER

2

The RAF Years

(1939–1946)

Brain was in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II and a year afterwards. He continued studies at the Royal Academy of Music during the war and augmented playing in the RAF Symphony Orchestra with musical engagements in London and the provinces.

RAF duties took Brain to RAF bases at home and abroad and to some extent restricted outside engagements. Sometimes he had to turn down offers of work owing to schedule conflicts and to his increasing demand as a soloist. His concerts as well as broadcasts in solo repertoire increased from 1941 onwards on home and overseas transmissions. This was in addition to many chamber music recitals and broadcasts with strings and other combinations.

He was not restricted to classical music but ventured into the sphere of dance bands, light music, and music for the film industry. With so many musicians away in the services abroad, he was much in demand for film soundtracks as well as in the many ensembles and orchestras being established in and around

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Acknowledgments

Stephen Gamble and William Lynch University of North Texas Press PDF

Acknowledgments

William Lynch and I (Stephen Gamble) had both been researching Dennis

Brain independently for many years when we first came in contact in July

2001 because of an advertisement I had placed in The Horn Magazine offering some of my collection of Brain recordings for sale. We first discussed co-authoring a biography in November of the same year and started work the following year, shortly before the Royal Academy of Music in London celebrated the eightieth year since Brain’s birth with a performance on

November 15, 2002 (more than a year after the actual anniversary). This was also the first occasion at which his B-flat Alexander was to be played in public since August 31, 1957.

When we began our collaboration, it soon became apparent what a wealth of new material was available, untapped and waiting to be gathered.

At the end of this project, much material about Brain’s career still waits to be explored. We do not know the full extent to which private enthusiasts recorded his performances off-the-air from broadcasts. We have not been able to search many music archives around the world, in part due to limited accessibility, and in part due to lack of institutional funding to catalog archive inventories. We hope that subsequent editions of this book will add to the list of known recordings.

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Chapter 5 Philharmonia Orchestra

Stephen Gamble and William Lynch University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER

5

Philharmonia Orchestra

Formation of the Philharmonia

Brain was the original principal horn of the Philharmonia Orchestra when

Walter Legge formed the orchestra in 1945. It was to be an orchestra with

“style” but not any particular style, comprising a body of hand-picked players of the highest caliber, and many distinguished conductors rather than one conductor molding the sound. This ensured that, under Legge’s direction, the

Philharmonia boasted a wide repertoire with a variety of different readings of standard works—such as the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky—as well as readings of lesser-known works.

The new orchestra’s reputation was soon established as one of the world’s top ensembles, and conductors as well as players competed for the privilege of taking part in its concerts and recordings. Legge made it clear from the outset that he would tolerate no passengers in the orchestra. Everyone was constantly on their toes, not knowing if they would be hired or fired the next week.1

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Chapter 11 Horns, Mouthpieces, and Embouchures

Stephen Gamble and William Lynch University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER

11

Horns, Mouthpieces, and Embouchures

Dennis Brain owned and experimented with no fewer than eleven horns varying in form, functionality, and tonal characteristics, most of which he ultimately disposed of for one reason or another. He often visited the Alexander firm in Mainz, Germany, which built a number of horns for him to his specifications. In 1951, he adapted an Alexander single B-flat Model 90 that he had earlier purchased and experimented with, replacing his French-type

Raoux-Millereau. He used the Alexander almost exclusively for the remainder of his life.

Brain reveals his relentless pursuit of the ideal horn in his publication The

French Horn, printed after his death: “As a point of interest, I must confess that I am at the moment negotiating for the manufacture of a five-valved instrument of my own design.”1

Alexander ceased manufacturing this horn after Brain’s death. The instrument, termed the “Brain Model,” was kept in a warehouse for several years until a player in the Munich Bach Orchestra worked with Alexander and completed the instrument. The horn was a B-flat/high E-flat descant, thus with a secure high range. The leadpipe reportedly fit directly into the inner rotary valve. The bell was yellow brass and the main body was gold brass.

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