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 25 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Gilbert & Sullivan: Operettas / Sargent, Pro Arte Orchestra
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 550572 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 16
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
    Performer:  Monica Sinclair,  Marjorie Thomas,  George Baker,  John [baritone (50s)] Cameron  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Sir Vivian Dunn,  Sir Charles Groves,  Sir Charles Mackerras
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte Orchestra,  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus,  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    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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  • 3.
    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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    CD: $93.99
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  • 4.
    Britten: The Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001880702 Release Date: 08/13/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Rachel Masters,  Viola Tunnard,  Gillian Saunders,  Patricia Garrod  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten,  Stephen Cleobury,  George Guest,  George Malcolm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden 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,  Gerald Moore,  Owen Brannigan,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Wilson,  Hugh S. Roberton,  Bob Sharples,  Ivor E. Sims  ... 
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  • 6.
    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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  • 7.
    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  ... 
    CD: $103.99
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  • 8.
    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:  Peggy Ann Jones,  Valerie Masterson,  Pauline Wales,  Colin [Tenor Vocal] Wright  ... 
    Conductor:  Royston Nash,  Isidore Godfrey,  Sir Malcolm Sargent
    CD: $21.99
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  • 9.
    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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    DVD: $63.99
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  • 10.
    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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  • 11.
    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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  • 12.
    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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  • 13.
    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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  • 14.
    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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  • 15.
    Britten: Peter Grimes / Pears, Harper, Britten
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001147709 Release Date: 07/08/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Peter Pears,  Elizabeth Bainbridge,  Owen Brannigan,  Robert Tear  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Gilbert & Sullivan: Pirates Of Penzance, Overtures / Sargent, Baker, Milligan, Cameron, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics For Pleasure   Catalog: 13454 Release Date: 07/08/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
    Performer:  Elsie Morison,  Richard Lewis,  Monica Sinclair,  James Milligan  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Sir Vivian Dunn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte Orchestra,  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus,  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 17.
    Handel: Acis & Galatea Scenes / Sutherland, Boult, Et Al
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 3147 Release Date: 01/15/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Owen Brannigan,  Peter Pears,  David Galliver,  Dame Joan Sutherland
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philomusica of London,  St. Anthony Singers
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  • 18.
    Beecham Collection - Offenbach: The Tales Of Hoffmann
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 13 Release Date: 10/24/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach
    Performer:  Robert Rounseville,  Dorothy Bond,  Margherita Grandi,  Ann Ayars  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Sadler's Wells Opera Chorus
    CD: $29.99
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  • 19.
    Originals - Britten: Peter Grimes / Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000747802 Release Date: 10/10/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Iris Kells,  Claire Watson,  Jean Watson,  Raymond Nilsson  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
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  • 20.
    Verdi: La Forza Del Destino / Busch, Wegner, Et Al
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 5014 Release Date: 02/28/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Dennis Wicks,  Robert Thomas,  Marko Rothmüller,  Owen Brannigan  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Busch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
    CD: $9.99
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  • 21.
    Britten Conducts Britten Operas Vol 1
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000321302 Release Date: 10/12/2004   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  James Pease,  Raymond Nilsson,  David [bass baritone] Kelly,  Lauris Elms  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $63.98
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  • 22.
    Gilbert & Sullivan: Pirates Of Penzance / Godfrey, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000018702 Release Date: 05/13/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
    Performer:  Owen Brannigan,  Donald Adams,  George Cook,  Pauline Wales  ... 
    Conductor:  Isidore Godfrey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  D'Oyly Carte Opera Chorus
    CD: $18.99
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  • 23.
    Cavalli: La Calisto / Leppard, Baker, Bowman, Cotrubas, Trama
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 436216 Release Date: 05/25/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Pier Francesco Cavalli
    Performer:  Dame Janet Baker,  Marjorie Biggar,  James Bowman,  Owen Brannigan  ... 
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
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  • 24.
    A Warlock Centenary Album / Partridge, Baker
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 65101 Release Date: 06/21/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Warlock
    Performer:  Owen Brannigan,  Ernest Lush,  Robert Lloyd,  Nina Walker  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks,  Douglas Guest,  Barry Rose,  Norman Del Mar  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baccholian Singers of London,  Cambridge King's College Choir,  Westminster Abbey Choir  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 25.
    Britten: Albert Herring / Pears, Fisher, Brannigan
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 421849 Release Date: 04/04/1989   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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