Havergal Brian

Brian acquired a legendary status at the time of his rediscovery in the 1950s and 1960s for the number of symphonies he had managed to write - 32, of which eight were completed after the age of 90.

He is also notable for his creative persistence in the face of almost total neglect during the greater part of his long life. Even now none of his works can be said to be performed with any frequency, but few composers who have fallen into neglect after an early period of success have continued to produce so many serious and ambitious works so long after any chance of performance would seem to have gone for good.

Nothing was a success for Brian; even his war service was short and farcical, and gave him the material for his first opera The Tigers. In the 1920s he at last turned to symphonies, though he had written more than ten before one of them was first performed in the early 1950s. This was due to his discovery by Robert Simpson, himself a significant composer and BBC Music Producer, who asked Sir Adrian Boult to programme the Eighth Symphony in 1954. From then on Brian composed another twenty-two symphonies, many of the later ones short, single or two-movement works, and several other pieces.

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1919 Symphony No 3 4.00 stars CD
New Music I Comments:
BBC Symphony Orchestra cond. Lionel Friend