Owen Brannigan

Biography

Born: March 10, 1908; Annitsford, Northumberland, England   Died: May 9, 1973; Newcastle-on-Tyne, England  
One of the leading English basses of his day, Owen Brannigan became strongly associated with the operas of Britten and Mozart. He also sang and recorded a number of roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and while he made numerous appearances abroad, his greatest successes were at English opera houses, most notably Sadler's Wells, Glyndebourne, and Covent Garden. He appeared regularly in concert and recital as well. Despite his reputation in Read more the works of Britten, Mozart, and Sullivan, his repertory was fairly broad, taking in Handel (Acis and Galatea), Cavalli (Calisto), Offenbach (Tales of Hoffman), Purcell (Fairy Queen), and many songs by English composers (Boyce, Morley, Horn, Warlock, Sullivan, etc.), and folk songs, particularly Northumbrian folk songs. Brannigan possessed a rich, powerful voice and made numerous recordings, most notably of the operas by Britten and Sullivan. Many are still available on EMI, Decca, Chandos, Pearl, and Melodram.

Owen Brannigan was born in Annitsford, England, on March 10, 1908. Though he sang in his childhood and teen years, he became a carpenter. Eventually, though, he began studying music at the Guildhall School of Music in London.

Brannigan won the gold medal there in 1942 and debuted the following year at Sadler's Wells -- at age 35! -- portraying Sarastro in Mozart's The Magic Flute. He then became a member of the company, first from 1944-1949 and then from 1952-1958. It was here that Brannigan appeared in two important premieres of Benjamin Britten operas: Peter Grimes (1945), as Swallow, and The Rape of Lucretia (1946), as Collatinus.

Meanwhile, he branched out, debuting at Covent Garden in 1947 and at Glyndebourne in 1948. He sang regularly with both companies thereafter and also appeared in several important Britten premieres for them, including the 1948 first performance of Albert Herring at Glyndebourne, in which he sang Superintendent Budd.

Brannigan made most of his recordings in the 1950s and '60s. Among the more noteworthy efforts were a pair of Malcolm Sargent-led Gilbert & Sullivan operas -- the 1958 H.M.S. Pinafore (as Dick Deadeye) on HMV and the 1961 Pirates of Penzance (Sergeant of Police) on EMI. But he had many other recording successes, including the 1970 Decca effort of Purcell's Fairy Queen, with Britten conducting. Brannigan was named an Officer of the British Empire by the Queen in 1964. He died from pneumonia in 1973, suffering from the affects of a serious automobile accident the previous year. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 46 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Britten: Peter Grimes / Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002141602 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Peter Pears,  David [bass baritone] Kelly,  Lauris Elms,  Claire Watson  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
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  • 2.
    Britten The Performer - Complete Decca Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001922102 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 27
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Henry Purcell,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Adrian Thompson,  John Tobin,  Jenny Hill,  Robert Tear  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  Wandsworth School Choir  ... 
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  • 3.
    Britten: The Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001880702 Release Date: 08/13/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Janine Jansen,  Rachel Masters,  Gillian Saunders,  Patricia Garrod  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten,  Paavo Järvi,  Stephen Cleobury,  George Malcolm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra  ... 
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  • 4.
    Britten: Albert Herring / Pears, Brannigan, Noble, Fisher, Britten, English Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001820402 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Sylvia Fisher,  Johanna Peters,  April Cantelo,  John Noble  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 5.
    Folk Songs Of The British Isles
    Label: Griffin   Catalog: 4078 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Charles Jeffreys,  James L. Molloy,  Delia Murphy  ... 
    Performer:  Phyllis Spurr,  Owen Brannigan,  Gerald Moore,  Peter Pears  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Wilson,  Hugh S. Roberton,  Bob Sharples,  Ivor E. Sims  ... 
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  • 6.
    Early One Morning: Partsongs & Folks Songs - Parry, Stanford, Elgar, Delius
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4802077 Release Date: 07/03/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Charles Hubert Parry,  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Frederick Delius  ... 
    Performer:  Ian Partridge,  Owen Brannigan,  Wilfrid Parry,  Susan Longfield
    Conductor:  Louis Halsey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Louis Halsey Singers,  Elizabethan Singers
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  • 7.
    Essential Gilbert & Sullivan
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27861 Release Date: 06/05/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
    Performer:  Richard Lewis,  Geraint Evans,  Marjorie Thomas,  Jeannette Sinclair  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent
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  • 8.
    Magnificat - 500 Years Of Choral Masterworks [50-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001664502 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Gregorio Allegri,  Antonio Lotti,  Orlando de Lassus,  Josquin Des Préz  ... 
    Performer:  Patrick Russill,  Marinella Pennicchi,  Michael Chance,  Mark Tucker  ... 
    Conductor:  Harry Christophers,  Paul McCreesh,  Stephen Cleobury,  Edward Wickham  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen,  Gabrieli Consort,  Gabrieli Players  ... 
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  • 9.
    The Very Best Of English Song
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 80513 Release Date: 04/03/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  John Ireland,  Charles Hubert Parry,  Roger Quilter  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Janet Baker,  Gerald Moore,  Thomas Allen,  Geoffrey Parsons  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Simon Rattle,  Steuart Bedford  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Fretwork,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 10.
    Joan Sutherland: A Portrait
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 3013 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Charles Gounod  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Peter Pears,  Owen Brannigan,  George Malcolm
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  Anthony Lewis
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  • 11.
    British Composers - Guide To Britain
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 29001 Release Date: 08/23/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Herbert Howells,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Performer:  Garth Benson,  Robert Tear,  Sir Philip Ledger,  Felicity Palmer  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli,  Boris Ord,  André Previn,  Philip Ledger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Music Group of London,  Polyphony (Vocal Ensemble)
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  • 12.
    Gilbert & Sullivan: The Gondoliers; Cello Concerto
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 95097 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan,  Unspecified
    Performer:  Geraint Evans,  James [Bass-Baritone Vocal] Milligan,  Elsie [Soprano Vocal] Morlson,  Alexander Young  ... 
    Conductor:  Peter Gellhorn,  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Sir Charles Mackerras
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  • 13.
    Gilbert & Sullivan Edition / D'Oyly Carte Opera Company [25-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001566702 Release Date: 06/14/2011   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
    Performer:  Jeanette Roach,  Daphne Gill,  Ceinwen Jones,  Mary Sansom  ... 
    Conductor:  Isidore Godfrey,  Royston Nash,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Sir Malcolm Sargent  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra,  D'Oyly Carte Opera Chorus,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 14.
    The Very Best Of Gilbert & Sullivan /  D'oyly Carte Opera Company
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001565902 Release Date: 06/14/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
    Performer:  Pauline Wales,  Valerie Masterson,  Peggy Ann Jones,  Colin [Tenor Vocal] Wright  ... 
    Conductor:  Royston Nash,  Isidore Godfrey,  Sir Malcolm Sargent
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  • 15.
    Handel: Messiah, Acis And Galatea / Sutherland, Bumbry, Pears, Boult
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4804924 Release Date: 05/31/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Grace Bumbry,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Kenneth McKellar,  David Ward  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  Philomusica of London  ... 
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  • 16.
    Label: Abc Classics   Catalog: 924133 Release Date: 10/26/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
    Performer:  Robert Dawe,  Thomas Edmonds,  Jeffrey Skitch,  Gillian Knight  ... 
    Conductor:  James Christiansen,  Isidore Godfrey,  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Royston Nash  ... 
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  • 17.
    The Britten-Pears Collection [6 DVDs]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001445909 Release Date: 07/13/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Traditional,  Charles Dibdin,  Henry Purcell,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Pears,  Benjamin Britten,  Rae Woodland,  Anthony Williams  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten,  Meredith Davies,  Sir Charles Mackerras
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Opera Chorus,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Ambrosian Chorus  ... 
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  • 18.
    Britten: Noye's Fludde / Norman Del Mar, English CO
    Label: London/Decca British Collection   Catalog: 425161 Release Date: 06/07/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Kathleen Petch,  Owen Brannigan,  Sheila Rex,  David Pinto  ... 
    Conductor:  Norman Del Mar,  Russell Burgess
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  East Suffolk Children's Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir
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  • 19.
    Britten: Peter Grimes / Pears, Watson, Britten
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 2008 Release Date: 01/26/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Jean Watson,  James Pease,  Peter Pears,  Claire Watson  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
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  • 20.
    Stainer: The Crucifixion / Guest, King's College Choir Cambridge
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470379 Release Date: 10/23/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Stainer
    Performer:  Richard Lewis,  Owen Brannigan,  Brian Runnett,  Peter White  ... 
    Conductor:  George Guest,  Stephen Cleobury
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge St John's College Choir,  Cambridge King's College Choir
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  • 21.
    Benjamin Britten - The Rarities
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 468811 Release Date: 10/09/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Peter Pears,  Benjamin Britten,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Galina Vishnevskaya  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten,  John Iveson,  George Malcolm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  London Symphony Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 22.
    Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock / Ian Partridge
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 68939 Release Date: 10/06/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Peter Warlock
    Performer:  Ian Partridge,  David Parkhouse,  Christopher Wellington,  Eileen Croxford  ... 
    Conductor:  Neville Dilkes,  Sir David Wilcocks
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Music Group of London
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  • 23.
    Britten: Spring Symphony, Cantata Academica, Etc / Britten
    Label: London/Decca British Collection   Catalog: 425153 Release Date: 02/18/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Jennifer Vyvyan,  Norma Procter,  Peter Pears,  Owen Brannigan  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten,  George Malcolm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Emmanuel School Boys Chorus  ... 
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  • 24.
    Sullivan: The Gondoliers; Cello Concerto / Mackerras, Evans, Lloyd Webber
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 13428 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
    Performer:  Julian Lloyd Webber,  Owen Brannigan,  John Cameron,  Geraint Evans  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Sir Malcolm Sargent
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Pro Arte Orchestra,  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
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  • 25.
    Purcell: Fairy Queen, Dido And Aeneas / Britten, Bedford
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 468561 Release Date: 09/02/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Henry Purcell
    Performer:  Norma Burrowes,  Mary Wells,  Ian Partridge,  Charles Brett  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten,  Steuart Bedford
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  English Chamber Orchestra,  London Opera Chorus  ... 
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