Dennis Brain

Biography

Born: May 17, 1921; London, England   Died: September 1, 1957; Hatfield, England  
Few instrumentalists of the twenieth century did more to establish a solo role for an instrument than Dennis Brain. By age 36, he had helped restore the four Mozart and two Strauss horn concertos to the repertory, inspired Hindemith, Britten, and others to write for his instrument, and generally set the standard for twentieth century horn soloists.

Born in 1921, Brain was raised in a London horn-playing family. Both his father, Aubrey
Read more Brain, and his uncle played professionally, as did their father, Alfred Brain Sr., himself the son of a horn player. (His other brother, Leonard, was a noted oboist.) In 1936, he began studies with his father at the Royal Academy of Music, and two years later made an acclaimed London debut as a soloist in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 with the Busch Chamber Players.

Brain soon became a frequent soloist with the Royal Air Force Central Band, with which he filled the position of principal horn during World War II. His growing reputation was cemented during a goodwill tour of America, during which he received an invitation from Leopold Stokowski to join the Philadelphia Orchestra after the war. This was just one of several invitations that Brain received, however, and he eventually took the job of principal horn with the Royal Philharmonic. Later he moved on to become principal horn of the Philharmonia Orchestra.

All the while, Brain was a sought-after horn soloist and chamber musician. During the postwar years, he made a series of now-classic recordings of concertos by Mozart, Strauss, and Hindemith, as well as of various chamber and recital works. Among the additions to the horn literature directly inspired by Brain were works by Britten, Hindemith, Malcom Arnold, and Gordon Jacob. His virtuosic command of the instrument stimulated two of Britten's greatest chamber works, the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings (1943) and the Canticle III (1953).

Brain took up conducting as well and founded a wind quintet that won him considerable fame. It was following a concert by this quintet at the Edinburgh Festival on September 1, 1957, that Brain was killed in a car accident on his way back to London. Benjamin Britten has written of that fateful night that "it has robbed us of an artist with the unique combination of superb technical command of his instrument, great musicianship, a lively and intelligent interest in music of all sorts, and a fine performing temperament, coupled with a charming personality." Read less
Browse 1-25 of 37 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Mozart 225: The New Complete Edition
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002549202 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 200
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Montserrat Caballé,  David Busch,  Amandine Beyer,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Benjamin Britten,  Trevor Pinnock,  Christopher Hogwood  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of Ancient Music,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
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  • 2.
    Decca Sound  – Mono Years 1944 -1956
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002280602 Release Date: 04/07/2015   Number of Discs: 53
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Wilhelm Backhaus,  Clifford Curzon,  Alfredo Campoli,  Henry Datyner  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Roger Desormičre,  Karl Münchinger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Paris Conservatoire Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris  ... 
    CD: $213.99
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  • 3.
    The Early Recordings Of Joan Sutherland
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 100815 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland,  April Cantelo,  Raymond Nilsson,  Dennis Brain  ... 
    Conductor:  Alberto Erede,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Fulvio Vernizzi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Goldsborough Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 4.
    Dennis Brain Plays Mozart
    Label: Opus Kura   Catalog: 7069 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Dennis Brain
    Conductor:  Walter Susskind,  Karl Haas,  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque Ensemble
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  • 5.
    Karajan And His Soloists, Vol. 1 (1948-1958)
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 633625 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  Dinu Lipatti,  Walter Gieseking,  Dennis Brain,  Bernard Walton  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Lucerne Festival Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 6.
    BBC Legends - Great Recordings from the Archive
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5113 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Robert Schumann,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Beryl Hatt,  Agnes Giebel,  Joyce Barker,  Kerstin Meyer  ... 
    Conductor:  Jascha Horenstein,  Yevgeny Mravinsky,  Arturo Toscanini,  Kiril Kondrashin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Orpington Junior Singers,  Goldsmiths' Choral Union  ... 
    CD: $98.99
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  • 7.
    Gunter Wand - The Radio Recordings
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 13038 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Olivier Messiaen,  Anton Webern,  Wolfgang Fortner  ... 
    Performer:  Erno Sebestyen,  Margaret Marshall,  Monique [Ondes Martenot] Matagne-Cavailles,  Tiny Wirtz  ... 
    Conductor:  Günter Wand
    CD: $98.99
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  • 8.
    Joan Sutherland: Rare Broadcasts
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1185 Release Date: 08/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giovanni Bononcini,  Charles Edward Horn  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland,  April Cantelo,  Richard Bonynge,  Ernest Lush  ... 
    Conductor:  John Pritchard,  Ferdinand Leitner,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Alberto Erede
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cappella Coloniensis
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  • 9.
    Gunter Wand Edition Vol 17 - Braunfels, Mozart, Baird
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 6004 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Walter Braunfels,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Tadeusz Baird
    Performer:  Dennis Brain,  Lothar Faber
    Conductor:  Günter Wand
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  West German Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 10.
    Mozart: Horn Concertos No  1 - 4, Quintet / Dennis Brain
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 6783282 Release Date: 03/26/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Dennis Brain,  Colin Horsley
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble
    CD: $12.99
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  • 11.
    Icon - Guido Cantelli: Fiery Angel Of The Podium
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog:  6790432 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Dennis Brain
    Conductor:  Guido Cantelli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra  ... 
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  • 12.
    The Very Best Of Herbert Von Karajan
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6789922 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Antonín Dvorák,  Jean Sibelius,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Gidon Kremer,  James Galway,  Fritz Helmis  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
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  • 13.
    Dennis Brain - A Tribute
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 5065 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann,  Paul Dukas  ... 
    Performer:  Dennis Brain,  Denis Matthews,  Gerald Moore
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Dennis Brain Ensemble
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  • 14.
    British Composers - Britten, Berkeley & Rubbra
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 29006 Release Date: 08/23/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten,  Edmund Rubbra,  Lennox Berkeley
    Performer:  Joan Cross,  Tom Culbert,  Peter Pears,  Denis Dowling  ... 
    Conductor:  Reginald Goodall,  Benjamin Britten,  Herbert Menges,  Norman Del Mar  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  BBC Theater Chorus,  English Opera Group  ... 
    CD: $34.99
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  • 15.
    Ibert: Divertissement; Escales; Symphonie Marine; Flute Concerto
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 94693 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Jacques Ibert
    Performer:  Cecil James,  Gareth Morris,  Leonard Brain,  Stephen Waters  ... 
    Conductor:  Louis Frémaux,  Leopold Stokowski,  Robert Irving,  David Zinman  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 16.
    Britten: Serenade For Tenor, Horn & Strings; Winter Words; Seven Sonnets Of Michelangelo
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1365 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Peter Pears,  Dennis Brain,  Benjamin Britten
    Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
    CD: $9.99
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  • 17.
    The Artistry Of Dennis Brain
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1363 Release Date: 12/21/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf,  Paul Dukas,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Leopold Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Dennis Brain,  Gerald Moore,  Alfred Cursue,  Edmund Chapman  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Haas,  J.A. Westrup,  Norman Del Mar,  Walter Susskind
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque Ensemble,  Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble
    CD: $9.99
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  • 18.
    Britten: Serenade, Winter Words, Etc / Britten, Pears
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 425996 Release Date: 01/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Dennis Brain,  Peter Pears,  Benjamin Britten
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boyd Neel String Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Icon - Walter Gieseking - Poet of the Keyboard
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 65081 Release Date: 04/21/2009   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Edvard Grieg,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Walter Gieseking,  Bernard Walton,  Sidney Sutcliffe,  Cecil James  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Schröder,  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hessian Radio Orchestra Frankfurt,  Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $54.49
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  • 20.
    Label: Opus Kura   Catalog: 2078 Release Date: 01/13/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Dennis Brain
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Léner String Quartet
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 21.
    Composers In Person
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 17575 Release Date: 11/24/2008   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ernö von Dohnányi,  Paul Hindemith,  Aram Khachaturian  ... 
    Performer:  Béla Bartók,  Vilma Medgyaszay,  Ferenc Szekeres,  Zoltán Székely  ... 
    Conductor:  Lawrence Collingwood,  Paul Hindemith,  Aram Khachaturian,  Arthur Honegger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Percurama Percussion Ensemble
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  • 22.
    Best Karajan 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 15206 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johann Nepomuk Hummel,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Bernard Walton,  Dennis Brain,  Lothar Koch,  Maurice André  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 23.
    Icon - Dennis Brain - The Horn Player Performs Mozart, Strauss, Beethoven, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6010 Release Date: 09/02/2008   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Leopold Mozart,  Paul Dukas,  Gordon Jacob,  Jacques Ibert  ... 
    Performer:  Dennis Brain,  Gerald Moore,  Stephen Waters,  Gareth Morris  ... 
    Conductor:  Norman Del Mar,  Sir Jack Allen Westrup,  Karl Haas,  Guido Cantelli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Morley College Symphony Orchestra,  Dennis Brain Ensemble,  Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $35.96
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  • 24.
    Karajan - Complete Emi Recordings 1946-84 Vol 1 - Orchestral Works
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 12038 Release Date: 04/01/2008   Number of Discs: 88
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Josef Strauss,  E. Nikolaus von Reznicek,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Karl Leister,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Ernst Haefliger,  Anne-Sophie Mutter  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    CD: $194.99
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  • 25.
    Label: Opus Kura   Catalog: 7034 Release Date: 01/22/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten,  Lennox Berkeley,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Dennis Brain,  Peter Pears,  Manoug Parikian,  Colin Horsley
    Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens,  Boyd Neel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra Strings,  Boyd Neel Orchestra
    On sale! $18.98
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