NOTE: updates to this page have been discontinued pending transfer to the new website
Symphony 1 'The Gothic'
in D minor, 1919-27 (originally no. 2 - re-numbering authorised by the composer 1967)


Part one [1]:
2 piccolos (1 also flute), 3 flutes (1 also alto flute), 2 oboes,  oboe d’amore, cor anglais,  bass oboe, Eb clarinet, 2  Bb clarinets, basset horn, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 6 horns, Eb cornet, 4 trumpets in F, bass trumpet, 3 tenor trombones, 2 tubas, 2 sets (min 3 drums) timpani, 2 harps, organ, celesta, min 8 percussion:  glockenspiel, xylophone, 2 bass drums, 3 side drums, tambourine, pair cymbals, tam-tam, triangle;  strings [say 16.16.12.10.8]

Part two [1]:
Soprano, alto, tenor, bass soloists, large children’s choir, 2 large mixed double choruses [in practice 4 large SATB choirs]
orchestra: 2 piccolos (1 also flute), 6 flutes (1 also alto flute), 6 oboes (1 also oboe d’amore, 1 also bass oboe), 2 cors anglais, 2 Eb clarinets (1 also Bb clarinet), 4  Bb clarinets, 2 basset horns, 2 bass clarinets, contrabass clarinet, 3 bassoons, 2 contrabassoons, 8 horns, 2 Eb cornets, 4 trumpets in F, bass trumpet, 3 tenor trombones, bass trombone, contrabass trombone, 2 euphoniums, 2 tubas, 2 sets (min 3 [in practice 4] drums) timpani, 2 harps, organ, celesta, min 18 percussion:  glockenspiel, xylophone, 2 bass drums, 3 side drums, long drum, 2 tambourines, 6 pairs cymbals, tam-tam, thunder machine [not thunder sheet], tubular bells, chimes, chains, 2 triangles, birdscare;   strings (20.20.16.14.12)
4 off stage groups: each containing 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 tenor trombones, set (min 3 drums) of timpani
(in summary: 32 wind, 24 on stage brass, 24 off stage brass, 6 timpanists, 18 percussion, 4 keyboards and harps, 82 strings - total orchestra c190 players, plus adult choir of min 500 [assumes largely professionals], children's choir of 100, 4 soloists = c800)


Text in Part 2: Te Deum laudamus

 

Boult
1966
Schmidt
1980
Lenard CD
1991

Curro

2010

Brabbins

2011

Groves
1976
Part one  [orchestra]  [822 bars] 33:38 35:21 39:00 36:32 35:49 39:21
Allegro assai  - attacca [284 bars] 11:15 10:50 13:42 12:22 11:59 13:03
II  Lento espressivo e solenne  - attacca [145 bars] 10:44 12:00 12:24 11:01 11:48 12:17
III  Vivace  - attacca [393 bars] 11:39 12:31 12:54 13:09 12:02 14:01
Part two  [soloists, choruses and orchestra]  [1529 bars] 66:34 69:44 71:48 67:57 69:06 -
IV  Te Deum laudamus  Allegro moderato  [433 bars]  18:15 18:31 19:48 18:11 17:47 -
V  Judex crederis esse venturus  Adagio molto solenne e religioso  [331 bars]  14:08 14:56 15:42 14:10 15:55 -
VI  Te ergo quaesumus  Moderato e molto sostenuto   [765 bars] 34:11 36:17 36:18 35:36 35:24 -
Total:  [2351 bars]  100:12   105:05 110:48 104:29 104:55 -
   
Stokes 1978
:  
c115'
 Timings updated and confirmed, August 2011

1932, full score published by Cranz, re-printed 1976
United Music Publishers Limited


Music excerpts

Sound excerpts from the Boult and Lenard CD sets can be found in our Listening Room.

 

Articles

...about the music
Music and meaning - Malcolm MacDonald
excellent piece relating the Gothic to its time of composition in the first world war

Brian as Faust - Malcolm MacDonald
excellent wide-ranging article addressing the psychology of Brian
Brian as Faust - Larry Alexander  follows up
Havergal Brian - The Gothic voice - Pauline Slevin
a detailed description
Havergal Brian's last testament? - Lionel Pike
The tonal structure of the Gothic

The concept of Part 2 - Colin G Davis
Flawed masterpiece? - Jonathan Rutherford
Is The Gothic a masterpiece?  What does this mean?

Review of Opus est - David J Brown

contains observations about The Gothic

introductory (and enthusiastic!) article - Langdon Jones

Gothic grandeur: the triumph of Havergal Brian

Creating the vocal score of the Gothic - 1: Jeremy Marchant

Creating the vocal score of the Gothic - 2: Philip Legge

Creating the vocal score of the Gothic - 3: Jeremy Marchant

Very good digest of how the vocal score has been computer-set

The Logistics of the Gothic symphony - 1: Philip Legge

The Logistics of the Gothic symphony - 2: Philip Legge

How to perform the Gothic with reduced forces

Beethoven, Berlioz, Brian (or Three Bs and more) - Jurgen Schaarwaechter

Brian and the Gothic put into perspective alongside other greats

Choral demands of the Gothic - Jeremy Marchant

Defining how difficult it is to stage the chorus for the Gothic

Brian's choral challenges in the Gothic - Jeremy Marchant: 1

Detailed analysis of the choral challenges

 

 

...about performances and recordings
At Victoria Hall, Hanley, 21 May 1978 - David J Brown
review of the vast amateur performance
Mounting
The Gothic - David J Brown
Choirworks and Musical encounters
contains an interview with Ole Schmidt on the 1980 performance
Brev fra London / Letter from London - Peter Wivel

review
of Schmidt performance
Skøn kæmpe-musik uden flip / Lofty musical colossus no freak - Jørgen Falck

review
of Schmidt performance
Recording The Gothic in Bratislava - David J Brown
David's detailed report on the Marco Polo sessions recording part 2
The 'Planets for pleasure' orchestra playthrough (1984) - Ted Heaton

A German view
review of the Lenard/Marco Polo recording

Recording the 'Gothic', Brisbane 2010

Trials and tribulations of recording the Gothic symphony in Brisbane

 

Further reading

Havergal Brian's Gothic symphony - Harold Truscott, Paul Rapoport - see bibliography
Opus est - Paul Rapoport contains a chapter on The Gothic  - see bibliography
The symphonies of Havergal Brian - Malcolm MacDonald / volume 1 chapter 3 - see bibliography
The Gothic revisited - Christopher Kettle in HB: Aspects of Havergal Brian - see bibliography
Beethoven's ninth symphony in relation to Brian's first - Paul Rapoport in HB: Aspects of Havergal Brian - see bibliography
How The Gothic came to be written - Havergal Brian in Havergal Brian's Gothic symphony - see bibliography

 

Performances

24 June 1961 [premiere] . Central Hall, Westminster, London
Noelle Barker (sop), Jean Evans (alto), Kenneth Bowen (ten), John Shirley-Quirk (bar), London Philharmonic Choir, Kingsway Choral Society, London Orpheus Choir, Hendon Grammar School Choir, Royal Military School of Music and Polyphonia Symphony Orchestra, conductor Bryan Fairfax

30 October 1966 [first professional performance] . Royal Albert Hall, London . live BBC broadcast
26 November 1967. repeat broadcast

Honor Sheppard (sop), Shirley Minty (alto), Ronald Dowd (ten), Roger Stalman (bass), BBC Chorus, BBC Choral Society, City of London Choir, Hampstead Choral Society, Emmanuel School Choir, Orpington Junior Singers, BBC Symphony Orchestra, conductor Sir Adrian Boult

10 October 1976 [Part 1 only] . invitation concert at Royal Albert Hall, London . live BBC Radio 3 broadcast
New Philharmonia Orchestra, conductor Sir Charles Groves

21 May 1978 . Victoria Hall, Hanley, Staffs, UK
Margaret Tapley (sop), Jean Reavley (alto), Eric Baskeyfield (ten), Philip Ravenscroft (bass); Keele Chamber Choir (chorus master John Sloboda), Leicester Philharmonic Society (Keith Smith), the Margaret Wharam Choir, Solihull (Margaret Wharam), Nantwich and District Choral Society (Eddie Hewsion), Oriana Choir, Macclesfield (Keith Yearsley), Potteries Choral Society (Michael Lambert),   Stone Choral Society (Arlene Lees); Ashborne Parish Church boys' choir (Christopher Atkinson), Goudhurst Girls School Choir (Mary Halstead), Nantwich Parish Church boys' choir (Michael Bax), Parish Church of St Peter, Prestbury boys' choir (Michael Cheetham) and girls' choir (Andrew Burr);  ad hoc The Stoke Gothic Symphony Orchestra, leader Raymond Baddeley; assistant conductor Peter Young, conductor Trevor Stokes
Produced by Paul Shaw
[The total forces were over 700, the audience being confined to the gallery (586 seats) and the balcony (211 seats), leaving the arena floor to be occupied by the orchestra, which fully met Brian's specification.  Behind the orchestra, the children's chorus was placed on the platform, two of the adult choruses behind them in the choir seats banked up on each side of the organ and the two remaining adult choruses seated in the long, narrow side balconies flanking the hall.  The four brass bands were located with the four choruses, with the result that the spatial disposition of the total forces were rather more marked than was the case at the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1966.]
REVIEW - David J Brown

25 May 1980 . Royal Albert Hall, London . live BBC Radio 3 broadcast
(repeat broadcast 14 May 1995)

Jane Manning (sop), Shirley Minty (alto), John Mitchinson (ten), David Thomas (bass), London Symphony Chorus, London Philharmonic Choir, BBC Singers, BBC Club Choir, Hampstead Choral Society, Bach Choir, English Chamber Choir;  members of:  BBC Symphony Chorus, Royal Choral Society, Goldsmith's Choral Union, Highgate Choral Society;  Orpheus Girls' Choir, Colfe's School Choir, London Symphony Orchestra (leader Irvine Arditti), conductor Ole Schmidt
REVIEW - David J Brown
REVIEW
- Peter Wivel
REVIEW - Jørgen Falck

15 September 1984 [Part 1 only] . St Olave's School, Orpington, Kent, UK
rehearsal and runthrough by 'Planets for pleasure' ad hoc orchestra, conductor Marc Fitzgerald
REVIEW - Ted Heaton

22 December 2010 . Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane, Australia

Ticketed final rehearsal 10.00am, performance 7.00pm

Produced by 4MBS Classic FM, Brisbane, recorded for local (4MBS) and international radio broadcast
Melissa Gill (sop), Kathleen Lamont (alto), Luke Venables (ten), Dimitri Kopanakis (bass), The Gothic Symphony Chorus, The Gothic Symphony Children's Chorus, The Gothic Symphony Orchestra, conductor John Curro

[The total forces numbered more than 600.]

 

17 July 2011 . Royal Albert Hall, London . live BBC Radio 3 broadcast as part of the BBC 2011 Proms season
(repeat broadcast 20 July 2011)

Susan Gritton (sop), Christine Rice (m-sop), Peter Auty (ten), Alastair Miles (bass), David Goode (organ), Eltham College Boys' Choir, CBSO Youth Chorus, Southend Boys' and Girls' Choirs, Brighton Festival Chorus, Huddersfield Choral Society, London Symphony Chorus, BBC National Chorus of Wales, Bach Choir, Cor Caerdydd, BBC National Orchestra of Wales & BBC Concert Orchestra, conductor Martyn Brabbins

[The total forces numbered more than 930.]

 

Commercial recordings

29-31 March 1989, 16-22 October 1989 . Concert Hall of Slovak Radio (Bratislava) / Marco Polo
Eva Jenisová (sop), Dagmar Pecková (alto), Vladimir Dolezal (ten), Peter Mikulás (bass); Slovak Philharmonic Choir, Slovak National Opera Chorus, Slovak Folk Ensemble Chorus, Bratislava City Choir, Lucnica Choir, Bratislava Childrens Choir, Youth 'Echo' Choir; CSR Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava), Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Ondrej Lenard

Re-released in 2004 on Naxos 8.557418-19

 

30 October 1966 [first professional performance] . Royal Albert Hall, London
Honor Sheppard (sop), Shirley Minty (alto), Ronald Dowd (ten), Roger Stalman (bass), BBC Chorus, BBC Choral Society, City of London Choir, Hampstead Choral Society, Emmanuel School Choir, Orpington Junior Singers, BBC Symphony Orchestra, conductor Sir Adrian Boult

Released in 2009 on Testament SBT2 1454 (2 CDs)

 

17 July 2011 . Royal Albert Hall, London
Susan Gritton (sop), Christine Rice (m-sop), Peter Auty (ten), Alastair Miles (bass), David Goode (organ), Eltham College Boys' Choir, CBSO Youth Chorus, Southend Boys' and Girls' Choirs, Brighton Festival Chorus, Huddersfield Choral Society, London Symphony Chorus, BBC National Chorus of Wales, Bach Choir, Cor Caerdydd, BBC National Orchestra of Wales & BBC Concert Orchestra, conductor Martyn Brabbins

Released on Hyperion in December 2011 on Hyperion CDA67971/2 (2 CDs)

 

 

 


REVIEW - Helmut Lauro
Recording The Gothic in Bratislava - David J Brown
David's detailed report on the Marco Polo sessions recording part 2
see also Discography


[1]  orchestration established by Paul Rapoport in Havergal Brian's Gothic symphony [see bibliography] - in some respects, this is the minimum necessary (e.g. there is a short passage in part two requiring 8 trumpets;  Brian suggests more harps ad lib;  and so on) - JRM

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