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Article: 10 Interesting facts about Dennis Brain

10 Interesting facts about Dennis Brain - MGLeatherWork

10 Interesting facts about Dennis Brain

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  1. Musical Family. Dennis was born into a musical family. His grandfather, father and two uncles were horn players. His mother was a singer at the opera house.
  2. Father’s Guidance. Dennis was destined to become a musician, however his father didn’t allow him playing horn until his embouchure was fully formed. He only allowed him to blow a few notes on his instrument on Saturday mornings. Later, Brain began studying the horn under the guidance of his father.
  3. Starting not with a Horn. Although Dennis entered the music world as a great horn player, his first instruments were the piano and organ.
  4. Debut during Teen’s Years. Dennis's professional debut was in the Queen's Hall with the Busch Chamber Players in October 1938, where he played the second horn to his father.
  5. Devotion to his Instrument. Dennis played a Raoux piston-valve horn, which looked similar to the one his father played. The instrument was characterized by a fluid tone and a fine legato. However, in 1951 Brain started playing Alexander single B♭ instrument, featuring a custom narrow lead pipe.
  6. Unexpected Approach. In 1956, at the Gerard Hoffnung Music festival, Dennis played Leopold Mozart horn concerto on a rubber hose pipe.
  7. Successful Solo Performances. He was an impressive soloist and took part in recording a few significant works for the horn, such as Benjamin Britten's “Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings” and Paul Hindemith's “Horn Concerto.”
  8. Versatile Duties. He performed with the New London Orchestra, the London Wind Players, and the London Baroque Ensemble. Apart from that, Dennis also toured as a soloist and played with his own wind quintet and trio.
  9. Legendary Recordings. The Mozart and Strauss horn concertos are considered his greatest performances, captured on records. They still remain the real bestsellers in classic music of his lifetime.
  10. Teaching. Brain influenced many young musicians through his series of lectures and demonstrations such as “Talking about the Instrument: The Horn”, “The Early Horn” for the BBC. He was also an author of a few articles in various journals, devoted to horn playing and everything about the horn.
10 interesting facts about Dennis Brain


At school I was a great admirer of him as I had been offered free lessons on the piston horn.
Later was accepted at The Guildhall School of Music & Drama where I had a a bit of a shock as no one ever taught me transposing!
I played 2nd horn to James Diack who guided me through orchestral playing. He’d been a student of Aubrey Brain and our coach, Francis Bradley, played for many years as 2nd horn to Aubrey. James introduced me to Yvonne Brain and family and I was once allowed to play on Dennis’ horn. Through his wonderful sound James & I had b flat & A Alexander horns which I still have. James & I still catch up along with another horn student Francis Pau now in Trinidad.
As singing was a second study left an actor & occasional singer, later moving to production.

Michael Heyland

I heard Dennis playing a Mozart concerto (no.2 probably) with the London Mozart Players at the Royal Festival Hall in 1956. Unforgettable. My father Harry Blech conducting. I decided then and there to learn to play the horn and have done so ever since. Dennis was a brilliant artist and a much loved colleague.

Blech Robin

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