The Havergal Brian Society

The Havergal Brian Society exists to promote public knowledge of the work of William Havergal Brian (1876-1972) and to support and sponsor its publication, performance and recording.

Registered UK charity No 275793

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Aims and objectives

  1. To act as an information source about the composer and his music for both the general public and for musicians. The Society is currently looking at ways in which it may play a more active educational role. This website is a major step towards the widest promulgation of information about Havergal Brian.

  2. To promote and sponsor recitals, concerts, and recordings of Brian's music. A concert performance of the opera The Cenci was mounted in 1997. Piano and song recitals have been given, a major contribution was made towards the first performance of The Tigers, and numerous recordings have been sponsored, including the current series of CDs on the Naxos label and a CD issue on the Testament label of the legendary 1966 performance of the Gothic symphony by Sir Adrian Boult, in the composer's presence.

  3. To advise and assist prospective performers in their choice of works and in the acquisition of performing materials. The Society has an active subcommittee which is editing and computer-setting Brian's music, thereby enabling high quality hire material to be available.

  4. To publish original material on Brian and his music. More than 240 issues of a bi-monthly Newsletter have been published, many containing authoritative articles on aspects of the composer and his music discussed in no other source. The Complete music for solo piano has been reissued in a single hardback volume, and a book about the Gothic Symphony has been published. The Society is also involved with a series of volumes of Brian's journalism, as well as the continuing publication of his music. The Society is working on a published Havergal Brian Song Edition.

  5. To gather as much information as possible on the whereabouts of Brian's missing scores, most importantly the full score of Prometheus unbound. As the result of a reward offer made by the Society, the full score of The Tigers was recovered in December 1977 after being missing for 30 or more years. More on the results of the Society's offer of a £500 reward for the discovery of lost Brian works is here.

Rules of the Society


Brief history

The Society is possibly the third of the name that has existed: one may have been formed after the publication in 1945 of Reginald Nettel's Ordeal by Music, the first biography of the composer, and another certainly existed in the early 1960s (more here).

The present Society, which enjoyed the distinguished Patronage of Sir Adrian Boult until his death in 1983, was founded informally in 1974 by Martin Grossel and James Reid Baxter. With the clarification of its principal aims and objectives (shown below), a more formal structure was established in 1977, and charitable status was granted in 1978. Membership has continued to grow, and is now global.


Archive

One of the most important areas of the Society's operations is the ongoing maintenance of the Archive devoted to Brian's life and works. This important well-stocked resource is now held at Bristol University under the supervision of HBS Archivist Professor John Pickard, and is open to public inspection. The Archive is currently in the process of being catalogued, following which the listing of the Archive contents will be viewable online, linkable from this website. An introduction to the original development of the Archive is here. Selected archive items will be available to view on the website.


Score setting

The Society has a flourishing and enthusiastic ad-hoc team which is computer setting Brian's works using Sibelius software on behalf of United Music Publishing. The following works have been completed to date:

English suite 3
Symphony 23
Symphony 24
Two choruses from Prometheus unbound
Some songs and partsongs

Other works are well advanced.

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