Havergal Brian Society Guestbook

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Total 35 messages:

Terry Woolliscroft, 18 November 2017

Thought you might like to know about a forthcoming event in Stoke (Home of the Stoke Gothic 1978). Here are the details:

HAVERGAL WHO? – Film Documentary on Havergal Brian


Wednesday 6 December 2017, 7.45 pm

AT THE FILM THEATRE, College Rd, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2EF

Bar open from 7.00pm. Ticket-free – No booking required. Free parking adjacent to Film Theatre - enter from College Road opposite Queen Anne Street.

The Gothic was performed in 1978 in the Victoria Hall, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent organised and performed by many members of the North Staffs Symphony Orchestra. Unseen since 1980, this newly digitised film features some of the orchestra – and a performance by the Bedford Singers, of Penkhull.

Search for "nssohistory blogspot" for link to the North Staffs Symphony Orchestra

stephen Trowell, The British Music Society, 26 August 2016

I was just running through the discography to check something and I came across your entry for the part songs which the Society issued on a cassette.

If I may - 1) it is not 'deleted'. Copies can (or could - I have not done so for along time) be dubbed to a CDR on request; indeed if there were enough requests we could do a more professional short run of them I guess.

2) I am not aware that it appeared on any other format, and if so, it was without the Society's permission.


Stephen Trowell

Hon. Treasurer

HBS Webmaster, 6 April 2016

Thanks for the query, Jos. All of Brian’s choral music is handled by United Music Publishing Ltd except The Vision Of Cleopatra, which is published by Musicsales/Novello. Details may be found on the individual works pages accessed from this webpage. http://www.havergalbrian.org/all-works-by-type.php

Jos Hofman, 6 April 2016

I am in search for scores of his choral music but have no success in finding it. Can you point to scores / publishers / manuscripts ?


Jos Hofman

HBS Webmaster, 21 July 2014


Two of HB’s most accessible symphonies are 6 and 16, still available on CD on the Lyrita label. For an example of his later style, try the trilogy of 22-24 on a recent Naxos. Recently released on the Heritage label are six symphonic movements from his opera The Tigers. And then of course there’s the Gothic symphony on Hyperion.

Austen Pinkerton, 20 July 2014


I'm looking to buy a couple of CDs of Brian's music as an introduction to it. Can you suggest a two or three as a general representation of his music?


Austen Pinkerton

Austen Pinkerton, 22 May 2014

Just listened to your ‘Havergal brian society’ webpage…’ introductory talk’, and wanted to say how terrific it was and how much i enjoyed it.

Just what was needed to introduce this extraordinary mans music...you should do one on his life also.

Have always thought of Brian as an oddity and a bit of a freak, but am recently coming to realise in my old age that he's probably an absolute giant, ignored, like George Lloyd, because he's too individual and belongs nowhere....the hallmarks, in fact, of a truly great artist.

Austen Pinkerton

David Daniels, 14 January 2013

Recently visited Odd Rode where Havergal was an organist I believe.

Chris Abbott, 31 December 2012

Full of fascinating reading and listening materials. Thank you so much!

I was aware of Brian's work but it has all come to a head having just watched the doco 'the curse of the Gothic' last night in Australia on ABC TV.

Leila Toiviainen, 30 December 2012

I only became aware of Brian, his work and of your society last night while watching the program on ABC TV about his Gothic Symphony performed in Brisbane, Australia in December 2010, a wonderful piece of music. I have just ordered it from Hyperion Records.

Thank you very much for your contribution to the world of classical music and to my learning more about Brian and his work.

Myer Fredman, 26 December 2012

In all honesty I feel justified in mentioning that, thanks to me, HB has been accepted into the pantheon of composers. As a boy I had read Nettel's book about him but it was only in the 1950's that I realised that he lived not far from me in Shoreham! I went down to see him where I met Dr. Robert Simpson who, incidentally was promoting Bob's music at the BBC. I became very attached to HB and his wife and, on one occasion persuaded him to come to Glyndebourne as my guest when I was conducting Massanet's Werther. I can see him now sitting up in the box and enjoying it immensly.

David J Brown, 8 October 2012

Just to follow up on the exchange between Mr Cowdell and Mr Gisclard on the point in The Gothic at which the Hyperion CDs break between movements… back in 1989 when as Secretary I was the Society's principal point of contact with Marco Polo over the Slovak recording, I made a point of requesting that it be divided between movements IV and V rather than the seemingly more obvious Parts 1 and 2–for exactly the reasons that Mr Gisclard spells out so clearly. Marco Polo, not surprisingly, initially assumed that the division should be between the two Parts, but were happy to accede to my request. That the same division between IV and V was followed on the Testament issue of the 1966 Boult performance was particularly welcome, given that the performance itself (for no good musical reason) had an interval between Parts 1 and 2, with the final orchestral chord of Part 1 played again before the Te Deum began (but with this repetition of course omitted in the CD issue). Straight through is the way to go!

David McDade, 23 June 2012

I note mention of an ongoing process of transcription of the symphonies using Sibelius and wonder how it is proceeding. I also wonder about what the total cost for transcribing all the symphonies would be. Perhaps a fundraising drive or a subscription scheme like the old Sibelius and Beethoven Society recording projects might focus attention?

Dave Fielding, 23 April 2012

Our college masterworks chorus and orchestra are interested in presenting Brian's Psalm 23. I have the 2002 Classico regoding of the work and recently obtained a copy of the vocal score as published by Musica Viva in 1974. However, I've been unable to find any source for the orchestra parts. Can anyone provide information concerning the availability of the orchestra parts - perhaps the source of scores as used by Douglas Bostock for his recording with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

Dace Gisclard, 25 January 2012

I disagree strongly with Richard W. Cowdell’s description of Hyperion’s decision to divide the “Gothic” after the “Te Deum” movement as “amateurish.” Far from it--the division between the “Te Deum” and the “Judex” is the FIRST full break indicated in the score, everything before this point being played “attacca”. It might be argued that Brian does not specifically write “attacca” between II and III, but the final bass clarinet note of II is tied to the first bass clarinet note of III--in effect, this becomes an “attacca”. Further, although there is a double bar just before the first choral entry in IV, it is of the kind that merely indicates a structural division, NOT a full stop (i.e., both vertical lines are the same narrow width).

Although Mr. Cowdell insists that Brian “obviously” meant for the “Te Deum” and the “Judex” to be joined with an “attacca,” examination of the score shows this is not so. The “Te Deum” movement (IV) ends with a double bar in which the vertical line on the right is clearly thicker than the vertical line on the left. This kind of double bar indicates--in standard musical notation practice--that a full stop is intended. There is no possibility whatsoever of interpreting it to mean an “attacca” or any other sort of join between these movements. Inspection of the rest of the score shows that Brian knew perfectly well how to write “attacca” or draw the kind of double bar which indicates a sectional division without a pause (i.e., with both vertical lines of the SAME width) when he wanted to. In the present case, he wrote an unquestionable full stop (again, to clarify, with the vertical line on the right obviously thicker than the one on the left). The join Mr. Cowdell insists upon might be what he’d like to hear, but it is not what Brian wrote.

Indeed, to break the work, as Mr. Cowdell suggests, at the fifth measure of the “Te Deum” would destroy the effect of the first choral entry. Admittedly, the first choral entry is preceded by a full bar of rest, but that rest is still vibrating with the resonance of the latest orchestral chord--silence is just as much a part of music as is sound, and Brian did not write a full stop here.

Since Mr. Cowdell feels so strongly about this, perhaps a solution would be to copy the recording to CDR’s, breaking it where he’d prefer. An easier suggestion would be to simply get a CD changer. A good one can accomplish the disc changing maneuver in 20 seconds or less.

Also, I do not share Mr. Cowdell’s objection to the inclusion of the applause--it adds to the sense of occasion. Again, a good changer will allow this track to be bypassed. Personally, I’m glad Hyperion included the applause--more strongly than any other argument, it ought to serve to silence the “pre-fab” wisdom of the nay-sayers that “nobody liked the piece”--obviously, quite a few people did, and don’t give a damn about the flippant “judgement” of those who are inexplicably proud of writing from a position of ignorance, prejudice and inertia.

At any rate, I certainly share Mr. Cowdell’s high opinion of the performance itself, and have the greatest admiration for Hyperion’s recording recording technicians who have enhanced the sound of the original BBC broadcast so skillfully.

Richard W Cowdell, 26 December 2011

I ordered the Hyperion Gothic recording as soon as it was advertised. Whilst I have no qualms concerning the performance - which is superb I do object to the amateurish way that, yet again, the symphony has been split over the two discs. There is no excuse whatsoever for not putting part 1 on disc 1 and the whole of the Te Deum on disc 2. The score shows at the disc change the 'Te Deum' section fading into silence followed by the fpp choral outburst at the opening of the 'Judex' section. Brian obviously meant it to suddenly burst on the listener like a ray of light. This effect is completely lost in all of the recordings by the need to jump up and change the CDs at this point. And anyway who realistically, wants to listen to almost 9 minutes of applause at the very quiet (pp) end of the symphony? An opportunity missed. Full marks for the performance none for the presentation by Hyperion, a company I admire greatly (I've probably got more of their recordings in my collection than any other label) and I would have expected to do better.

Michael Scott, 5 October 2011

Bravo to Hyperion for having the chutzpah to release the Proms Gothic performance in December! Alas, Chandos, you have fallen by the wayside and have missed the opportunity of the decade…

Bob Quaif, 16 September 2011

Is the long-awaited of breakthrough at last nigh? Will HB's work start to receive the attention it deserves? We can but hope! In the meantime, may I offer a correction to the Pirated Records section of the discography? The Aries bootleg LP of HB's 2nd is surely the 1973 performance by the Kensington Symphony Orchestra under Leslie Head, not the 1979 BBCSO/Mackerras one.

Michael Scott, 22 July 2011

What a stupendous evening at the Proms on Sunday. I've known the Lenard recording for many years but Brabbins wiped the floor! I will be signing up as a member of the Society in the morning. Best wishes.

Martyn Becker, 21 July 2011

Many thanks all for the messages following Sunday's wonderful performance. Keep looking at the website for more news!

Martyn Becker

Dr Adrian King, 19 July 2011

I used to be a member of the HB society for many years and am likely to rejoin after hearing the Gothic on radio 3 on sunday.Years ago Mahler 8 opened the Proms and i thought then the Gothic's time must come as I think personally it's a finer work. Having heard all the other available versions I was enormously impressed by the whole experience all concerned played as if they're lives depended on it especially the xylophonist , brass players generally and gorgeous cello playing towards the end.Of course somehow it wasn't televised - it was made for TV with exciting percussion massed choirs etc - what was needed was someone to take a leaf out of the Grateful Dead's book [ eg Phil Lesh ] to have taped/videoed it - they could have squeezed a taper's section into the corporate seats not filled ! Here's to 2041

Christine Alp, 18 July 2011

Was amazed at the performance of the Gothic symphonyat the Proms last night- my daughter was singing so we Came to watch not necessarily expecting to enjoy the music as much as we did! And yes Zi am a pianist do would be delighted if you have any of his piano music left as bedew yesterday I knew absolutely nothing about the composer and his music!

Simon Jenner, 18 July 2011

Read David Nice's review and had to respond:

Having finally attended a Gothic performance where the CDs of it (both versions) had me agreeing with one friend that the first purely orchestral part (performed separately at the Proms in 1976, Brian's centenary year) was the best part, I'm now pleasantly converted by the most stupefying performance of any orchestral work I've attended. Its only rival was for me a two piano performance by George Benjamin and Peter Hill of Messiaen's Visions de L'Amen at Huddersfield in 1988.

I'm not a Brian apologist. David Nice might recall the late Michael Oliver's words. How could an idea of breathtaking beauty, even genius, be abruptly traduced by a wholly different, disjunct one in a Brian symphony, namely the 8th and 9th then under review?

From Symphony 6 (1948), Brian is more compressed, and his dislocated but arresting world grows each time you hear it. It's simply a question of listening again, as one has with Bax (David Nice might not welcome this, but Bax is more fully rehabilitated). Brian's 11th Symphony impressed again heard on Friday, and the 20th on Saturday. Brian refuses to relax into linear symphonic thinking (I often wish he would). He's a mosaic developer. Sibelius famously did something with that in his 2nd. But Brian zig-zags. It's a deliberate choice.

The Gothic is flawed, but the second part really does own great power (in flashes and more sustained flights), and the first part wouldn't be criticised if it wasn't for the second half.

The Gothic bears a relation to the National Theatre's current production of Ibsen's Emperor and Galilean, a closet drama of crucial importance, everyone agrees, to drama, but almost unstageable because of length, though decisively not quality. Brian too apparently felt his symphony was a quasi-closet one. Like Ibsen he lived to see others triumphantly mount and realize a performance.

Ibsen can be edited down, and is. Brian's retrospective editing is the bagatelle-length by comparison of his Symphonies 6-32. His 22nd lasts 10 minutes! The best don't jar in the wrong places.

The Gothic however is considerably better than I imagined. There's more melodic distinction than I could hear at first. It's overwritten and the composer doesn't trust his melodic inspiration save at key exposed passages for solo instrument or voice which had almost passed me by till now. A CD of this performance would help persuade many. Listen again, as the BBC put it.

Brian Paul Bach, 18 July 2011

Just heard today's Gothic on the Proms b-cast via web here in the Pacific NW USA. When in Oxford in 1980, heard the Schmidt broadcast live also. I was too poor to spend the four pound bus ride to London! Still, both broadcasts were live and tremendously exciting. Bravo to Brabbyns' forces - he really put a new light on things, very smoothly presented, very refined, I thought. It's a real joy to know that such ambitious works are given a chance to bloom and keep blooming. Any chance of a CD issue of today's broadcast? Stunning, simply stunning!

Thomas Gallagher, 17 July 2011

I was at the 1976? Havergal Brian series of concerts given in Ally Pally. I think No.30 was played then as well as many other symphonies for the first time. The appalling acoustics of the concert hall masked the true values of the music and the intense cold made it very uncomfortable listening and only the most dedicated fans completed the series aided, I might add, with a large flask of whisky.

Michael Garrick, 16 July 2011

I feel deeply honoured to have come into contact with HAVERGAL brian's Gothic overheard by chance one night on Radio 3 when driving home. BBC to the rescue of humanity. I'm not given to hyperbole.

Martyn Becker, 12 July 2011


Delighted that we could arrange for your tickets to the Proms Gothic - see you there!

Sidney Berger, 5 July 2011

wonderful to learn something new & uplifting today, this from an 86 yr old.

Christopher Stokoe, 22 May 2011

I have been a member of the Society for many years now and would dearly have liked to get to hear the Gothic at the Proms. Unfortunately I was not quick enough to apply before the tickets were sold out. Ideally I would like 2 tickets, although I would settle for 1 in case of need, and if any member has tickets that are surplus to their requirements I should be pleased to purchase them. I do hope someone can help. Thanks.

Christopher Stokoe

Dace Gisclard, 10 May 2011

Dear Mr. Becker,

Thank you for your reply, and your e-mails. Thanks also to Mr. J. Z. Herrenberg for coming to my aid! I am considering membership, and will be in touch. If I have trouble using the "donate" button, I will contact you through e-mail.

Many thanks,

Dace Gisclard

Martyn Becker, 10 May 2011


Many thanks for posting here, and apologies for any inconvenience caused. Your pleas have been heard and answered; please check your emails for more information.

Martyn Becker
Webmaster, Havergal Brian Society

Dace Gisclard (Mr.), 29 April 2011


Although I don't have a budget that permits attending Brian performances around the world, I'm very interested in availing myself of your lending library of Brian recordings. However, I'm very put off by the experience of Daniel Wieland who has been waiting 16 months for a reply from you, despite his having sent a Paypal payment to you to become a member. What's going on?

Daniel Wieland, 18 April 2011

I very much enjoy Brian. On 27 December 2009 I sent money via Paypal to become a member of the society. I have received no responses. I've sent emails with one response saying that someone would get back to me. Still waiting. Sixteen months with no valid response. Would someone please contact me please?

Grahame Spence, 25 September 2010

I have known about Havergal Brian for a long time but have had little opportunity to hear his music. As part of a personal campaign to have the music of British composers better known here in Canada, I had my local library (Town of Mount Royal, Quebec) buy a copy of the Violin Concerto/Jolly Miller/18th symphony CD. On listening to it I am favourably impressed (more so than by the output of D. Shostakovitch!)

HB is definitely a composer who deserves a wider hearing.

Aaron Rabushka, 23 September 2010

Are any other society members planning to attend the Brisbane Gothic this December?