Havergal Brian

(1876—1972) composer

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(b Dresden, Staffs., 1876; d Shoreham‐by‐Sea, 1972)

(christened William, adopted name Havergal in 1899). Eng. composer. Mainly self‐taught and did not devote himself wholly to mus. until he was 23, having left school at 12 and worked as a carpenter's apprentice and in other jobs. Was Manchester mus. critic of Musical World 1905, attending Richter's Hallé concerts. His English Suite for orch. was cond. by Wood 1907, and Beecham cond. 2 of his works at Hanley 1908. His ov. Dr. Merryheart was perf. at Birmingham in 1913 and taken up by Wood. Other orch. works were cond. by Ronald, Godfrey, Bantock, and others, but none est. themselves in the permanent repertory. Wrote for Musical Opinion, 1922–40. He comp. 32 syms. but was 78 years old before any was perf., this being No.8 in a BBC broadcast, 1954. The 18th was perf. in London in 1962 and the 32nd in Jan. 1971 on the eve of his 95th birthday. He wrote 27 syms. and 4 operas between 1948, when he was 72, and 1968. The BBC undertook to broadcast all the syms. to mark the centenary of Brian's birth, and a movement developed to try to remedy the neglect he had suffered in his life. His largest work was the Gothic Symphony (No.1), comp. 1919–27, for an orch. of 180 (32 woodwind, 24 brass, perc. needing 17 players, etc.) with 4 brass groups and 4 large mixed choirs. This was f.p. in London in 1961 and again in 1966 to mark his 90th birthday. Several of his works outdo Strauss and Mahler in their extravagance. The Second Symphony requires 16 hns., 2 pfs., and org. Prin. works:


The Tigers

(1916–18, orch. 1918–29);



The Cenci







syms.: No.1 in D minor (The Gothic), SATB soloists, ch., children's ch., brass band, orch. (1919–27), No.2 in E minor (1930–1), No.3 in C♯ minor (1931–2), No.4 (Das Siegeslied, Ger. trans. of Ps.68), sop., ch., orch. (1932–3), No.5 (Wine of Summer), bar. and orch. (1937), No.6 (Sinfonia tragica) (1947–8), No.7 in C (1948), No.8 in B♭ minor (1949), No.9 in A minor (1951), No.10 in C minor (1953–4), No.11 (1954), No.12 (1957), No.13 in C (1959), No.14 in F minor (1960), No.15 in A (1960), No.16 (1960), No.17 (1960–1), No.18 (1961), No.19 in E minor (1961), No.20 (1962), No.21 in E♭ (1963), No.22 (Symphonia brevis) (1964–5), No.23 (1965), No.24 in D (1965), No.25 in A minor (1965–6), No.26 (1966), No.27 in C (1966), No.28 in C minor (1967), No.29 in E♭ (1967), No.30 in B♭ minor (1967), No.31 (1968), No 32 in A♭ (1968);

Dr Merryheart

, comedy ov. (c. 1911–12);

English Suite

No.3 (1919), No.4 (1921), No.5 (1953); vn. conc. No.2 in C minor (1934–5);

The Tinker's Wedding

, comedy ov. (1948);


, sym.‐poem (1954); vc. conc. (1964);

Concerto for Orchestra


Ave atque Vale


chorus & orch.:

Psalm 23

, ten., ch., orch. (1901, reconstructed 1945);

Requiem for the Rose

, women's vv., orch. (or pf.) (1911);


Subjects: Music.

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