Havergal Brian

Biography

Born: January 29, 1876; Dresden, Staffordshire, England   Died: November 28, 1972; Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, England  
Lauded for his "courage and fortitude in the face of total neglect," over the course of a creative life of 80 years -- one of the longest ever -- Havergal Brian composed big and ambitious works, including 32 symphonies and several operas, most of which went unperformed in his lifetime. Since his death, he has moved from near total obscurity to recognition as one of twentieth century England's most significant composers.

Both of Brian's
Read more parents sang in a choir, and his earliest musical experiences were of singing and playing organ in the local church. He took some rudimentary music lessons, but was largely self-taught through studying scores and taking part in local amateur performances. After supporting himself for a time as a carpenter's assistant and working for a coal mine and a timber firm, Brian decided to devote himself to music.

His first successes as a composer were part-songs and choral works for various British music festivals. Through those experiences he befriended Sir Edward Elgar and Sir Henry Wood; the latter's performance of Brian's English Suite No. 1 (1904) inspired an anonymous patron to help Brian get his music published. In 1912, Brian moved to London. He was very poor, his works weren't being performed, and at one time he contemplated suicide. He did brief service in World War I; after the war, he worked as a freelance music copyist and for many years did writing and editing work for publications like Musical Opinion and Musical World. All the while, he was composing huge pieces of music, such as the comic opera The Tigers (written 1916-1918, orchestrated 1918-1930) and the Gothic Symphony (1919-1927).

After completing his four-hour long opera Prometheus Unbound (after Shelley, 1937-1944), Brian stopped composing for a few years. But in 1948, as he put it once, "the muse returned with a rush." He then embarked on the most prolific period of his career: from 1948 to 1968 he completed 27 symphonies, four operas, and various other instrumental works. Twenty-two of those 27 symphonies were written after Brian had turned 80, and seven were written after his 90th birthday. With the completion of his Symphony No. 32 in A flat in October 1968, Brian decided he no longer had any impulse to compose. He died at age 96.

Brian was 78 years old before he heard one of his symphonies performed, in a 1954 BBC concert. Performances of his works have remained fairly rare, though the pace picked up with the formation of the Havergal Brian Society. His most notorious work is still his Symphony No. 1, the "Gothic," which for years was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Largest Symphony." Close to two hours in length, the work calls for a vast orchestra (supplemented by four brass bands and organ), four soloists, two choirs, and children's choir. Completed back in 1927, the symphony only received its first commercial recording in 1990. Read less

There are 35 Havergal Brian recordings available.

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Works

Havergal Brian


MOST POPULAR WORKS
I. Theme
II. Variation 1: Whimsies and Sunshadows (Grillen und Sonnenschatten)
III. Variation 2: Smiles and Storms (Lacheln und Sturme)
IV. Variation 3: Dreams: Asleep in the Arms of Venus (Traume: Schlummernd in den Armen der Venus)
V. Variation 4: Merryheart as a chivalrous knight chases Bluebeard (Als ritterlicher Kampe verfolgt Merryheart den Blaubart)
VI. Variation 5: Merryheart fights a dragon (Merryheart kampft mit dem Drache)
VII: Variation 6: Merryheart leads a procession of heroes (Merryheart fuhrt einem Zug Helden)
VIII: Variation 7: Merryheart awakes (Merryheart ist wash)
IX. The Dance of Merryheart (Merryhearts Tanz)
I. Characteristic March
II. Valse
III. Under the Bench Tree
IV. Interlude
V. Hymn
VI. Carnival
I. -
II. Allegro molto
III. Con moto e espressione
IV. Allegro vivace
V. -
Allegro vivo
Misterioso
No. 1. The Boys and the Pastille
No. 2. The Butterfly's Waltz
No. 3. Venus and a Bobby
Introduction - First Scene
Second Scene
Third Scene
No. 1. -
No. 2. -
No. 3. -
No. 4. -
Part 1: I. Allegro assai: section 1
Part 1: I. Allegro assai: section 2
Part 1: I. Allegro assai: section 3
Part 1: I. Allegro assai: section 4
Part 1: II. Lento espressivo e solenne: section 1
Part 1: II. Lento espressivo e solenne: section 2
Part 1: II. Lento espressivo e solenne: section 3
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 1
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 2
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 3
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 4
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 5
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 6
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 7
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 1
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 2
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 3
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 4
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 5
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 6
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 7
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 8
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 9
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 10
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 11
I. Adagio
II. Allegro giocoso: section 1
II. Allegro giocoso: section 2
II. Allegro giocoso: section 3
II. Allegro giocoso: section 4
III. Maestoso e pesante - Allegro marcia: section 1
III. Maestoso e pesante - Allegro marcia: section 2
III. Maestoso e pesante - Allegro marcia: section 3
WORKS
I. Theme
II. Variation 1: Whimsies and Sunshadows (Grillen und Sonnenschatten)
III. Variation 2: Smiles and Storms (Lacheln und Sturme)
IV. Variation 3: Dreams: Asleep in the Arms of Venus (Traume: Schlummernd in den Armen der Venus)
V. Variation 4: Merryheart as a chivalrous knight chases Bluebeard (Als ritterlicher Kampe verfolgt Merryheart den Blaubart)
VI. Variation 5: Merryheart fights a dragon (Merryheart kampft mit dem Drache)
VII: Variation 6: Merryheart leads a procession of heroes (Merryheart fuhrt einem Zug Helden)
VIII: Variation 7: Merryheart awakes (Merryheart ist wash)
IX. The Dance of Merryheart (Merryhearts Tanz)
I. Characteristic March
II. Valse
III. Under the Bench Tree
IV. Interlude
V. Hymn
VI. Carnival
I. -
II. Allegro molto
III. Con moto e espressione
IV. Allegro vivace
V. -
Allegro vivo
Misterioso
No. 1. The Boys and the Pastille
No. 2. The Butterfly's Waltz
No. 3. Venus and a Bobby
Introduction - First Scene
Second Scene
Third Scene
No. 1. -
No. 2. -
No. 3. -
No. 4. -
Prelude
Fugue
Prelude
Fugue
Part 1: I. Allegro assai: section 1
Part 1: I. Allegro assai: section 2
Part 1: I. Allegro assai: section 3
Part 1: I. Allegro assai: section 4
Part 1: II. Lento espressivo e solenne: section 1
Part 1: II. Lento espressivo e solenne: section 2
Part 1: II. Lento espressivo e solenne: section 3
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 1
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 2
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 3
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 4
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 5
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 6
Part 1: III. Vivace: section 7
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 1
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 2
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 3
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 4
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 5
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 6
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 7
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 8
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 9
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 10
Part 2: IV. Te Deum Laudamus: Allegro moderato: section 11
I. Adagio
II. Allegro giocoso: section 1
II. Allegro giocoso: section 2
II. Allegro giocoso: section 3
II. Allegro giocoso: section 4
III. Maestoso e pesante - Allegro marcia: section 1
III. Maestoso e pesante - Allegro marcia: section 2
III. Maestoso e pesante - Allegro marcia: section 3
Introduction -
Allegro maestoso -
A Tempo Marcia Lento -
Adagio espressivo -
Allegro vivo
I. Maestoso e marcato
II.
III.
IV. Cantabile e espressivo molto
V.
VI. Allegro con brio
Adagio - Allegro moderato
Lento
Allegro con brio
I. Allegro moderato
II. Adagio
III. Allegro e marcato sempre: section 1
III. Allegro e marcato sempre: section 2
I. Adagio solenne - Allegro assai: section 1
I. Adagio solenne - Allegro assai: section 2
I. Adagio solenne - Allegro assai: section 3
I. Adagio solenne - Allegro assai: section 4
II. Andante sostenuto e molto espressivo: section 1
II. Andante sostenuto e molto espressivo: section 2
II. Andante sostenuto e molto espressivo: section 3
II. Andante sostenuto e molto espressivo: section 4
II. Andante sostenuto e molto espressivo: section 5
III. Allegro assai: section 1
III. Allegro assai: section 2
IV. Lento maestoso e mesto: section 1
IV. Lento maestoso e mesto: section 2
IV. Lento maestoso e mesto: section 3
IV. Lento maestoso e mesto: section 4
I. Adagio - Allegro agitato: section 1
I. Adagio - Allegro agitato: section 2
I. Adagio - Allegro agitato: section 3
I. Adagio - Allegro agitato: section 4
II. Adagio ma non troppo, cantabile e sostenuto: section 1
II. Adagio ma non troppo, cantabile e sostenuto: section 2
II. Adagio ma non troppo, cantabile e sostenuto: section 3
II. Adagio ma non troppo, cantabile e sostenuto: section 4
III. Allegro vivo: section 1
III. Allegro vivo: section 2
III. Allegro vivo: section 3
III. Allegro vivo: section 4
III. Allegro vivo: section 5
III. Allegro vivo: section 6
I. Maestoso e ritmico
II. Tempo di Marcia e Ritmico
I. Moderato
II. Adagio non troppo ma pesante
I. Allegro risoluto: section 1
I. Allegro risoluto: section 2
I. Allegro risoluto: section 3
I. Allegro risoluto: section 4
I. Allegro risoluto: section 5
I. Allegro risoluto: section 6
I. Allegro risoluto: section 7
II. Andante cantabile: section 1
II. Andante cantabile: section 2
II. Andante cantabile: section 3
II. Andante cantabile: section 4
II. Andante cantabile: section 5
III. Allegro ma non tanto: section 1
III. Allegro ma non tanto: section 2
III. Allegro ma non tanto: section 3
III. Allegro ma non tanto: section 4
I. Allegretto
II. Adagio
III. Allegro ma non troppo
IV. Allegro moderato
I. Maestoso: Ein Psalmlied Davids
I. Es stehe Gott auf
I. Lento: Du gabst, Gott, einen gnadigen Regen
I. Allegro vivo ma deciso: Der Herr gab das Wort
II. Wenn ihr zwischen den Hurden laget
II. Der Wagen Gottes sind vieltausendmal tausend
II. Du bist in die Hohe gefahren
III. Bewegt: Gelobet sei der Herr taglich
III. Der Herr hat gesagt
III. Dass dein Fuss in der Feinde Blut gefarbt werde
III. Man sieht, Gott, wie du einherziehst
III. "Lobet Gott den Herrn in den Versammlungen ..."
III. Solenne: Die Fursten aus Agypten werden kommen
III. Andante maestoso: Gebet Gott die Macht!
(Concert Overture No. 3): section 1
(Concert Overture No. 3): section 2


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