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Dennis Brain
Birth: May 17, 1921
Death: Sep. 1, 1957

Classical Musician. He was a skilled and popular French horn player in the British post-World War II era. Born into a musical family in London, England, his father was a horn teacher and held the principal horn position with the British Broadcasting Corporation Symphony Orchestra and his mother was a composer who wrote cadenzas to the first and third Mozart horn concerti which her husband then performed. In his early years, he studied piano and organ and at the age of 15, he transferred from St Paul's School in London to the Royal Academy of Music to study horn, under his father's tutelage. In October 1938 he debuted at the Queen's Hall in London, playing second horn under his father with the Busch Chamber Players and in February 1939 he made his first recording with the Lener Quartet of Mozart's "Divertimento in D major, K.334," again as second horn under his father. At the age of 21 he was appointed to the first horn position in the National Symphony Orchestra. This tenure did not last long as he was soon conscripted into the British armed forces with his brother in World War II. He joined the Central Band of the Royal Air Force and also the Royal Air Force Symphony Orchestra, when it was formed, the latter which went on a goodwill tour of the US. In 1943 his solo career began when English composer Benjamin Britten wrote his "Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings" for English tenor Peter Pears and him. By 1945, at the age of 24, he was the most sought-after horn player in England. After the war, the Philharmonia and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra were formed, and he filled the position as principal horn in both. He later had to resign from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra due to time constraints. In 1946 he formed a wind quartet with his brother Leonard that toured Europe. He also founded a trio with pianist Wilfrid Parry and violinist Jean Pougnet that toured Scotland twice and made plans to tour Australia in the winter of 1957. In November 1953, under the direction of Herbert von Karajan, and accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra, he recorded the "Mozart Horn Concertos Nos. 1-4" for EMI. In July 1954, again conducted by Karajan, he performed the organ part in a recording of the Easter hymn from Pietro Mascagni's "Cavalleria rusticana." He played with Karl Haas's London Baroque Ensemble, both on recordings (notably Dittersdorf's "Partita in D," Dvorak's "Serenade in D minor for Winds, Op. 44," and Handel's "Aria" for two horns, oboes and bassoon) as well as in concert. In 1955 he produced a radio program called "The Early Horn," in which he emphasized the importance of the player over the instrument in the production of the perfect tone. Showing off his humorous style, he performed a Leopold Mozart horn concerto on rubber hose pipes at a Gerard Hoffnung music festival in 1956, trimming the hose to length with garden shears to achieve the correct tuning. A penchant for fast sports cars, he was killed at the age of 36 driving home to London after performing the Tchaikovsky "Symphony No. 6, Pathetique" with the Philharmonia under Eugene Ormandy at the Edinburgh Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. He had driven his Triumph TR2 sports car off the road and into a tree on the A1 road opposite the north gate of De Havilland Aircraft factory at Hatfield. His B-flat/A model 90 horn made by Alexander Brothers in Mainz, Germany, and later modified, was badly damaged in his fatal crash and has since been restored and is on public display in the York Gate Collections at the Royal Academy of Music in London. (bio by: William Bjornstad) 

Cause of death: automobile accident
 
Burial:
Hampstead Cemetery
Hampstead
London Borough of Camden
Greater London, England
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: May 20, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 9404
Dennis Brain
Added by: Ron Moody
 
Dennis Brain
Added by: David Conway
 
Dennis Brain
Added by: Connie Nisinger
 
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I heard a recording of you playing the garden hose many years ago. I thought it was ingenious. Thank you for your contributions to classical music. You died way too soon. May you rest in peace.
- William Bjornstad
 Added: Nov. 5, 2013

- David Wend
 Added: May. 17, 2013

- Timothy Purnell
 Added: May. 17, 2013
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