|Photo: David Brown|
From the Publisher of LA Opus
In the summer of 2014, my wife and I attended the Bard College Music Festival in New York State, devoted that year to the works of Franz Schubert. Our frequent between-concert conversations included an articulate ex-pat Englishman named David Brown. Having relocated from London to Western Massachusetts in 2004, he was, by coincidence, dating a California lady in our hometown of Santa Monica. Early last year, David retired from his day job as an architectural magazine writer and editor and moved to California to marry Jill. They now live with a couple of adorable cats in San Pedro. It is with a sense of real joy that LA Opus announces that David is our newest contributor. He has an interesting back story, which he will relate to you directly:
"Ever since I encountered Holst’s The Planets some time in my early adolescence, adding an unsuspected musical aspect to my hitherto prime obsessions with astronomy and space travel, I became a “classical” music enthusiast. Initially a delighted discoverer of the standard repertoire, I soon came to realize that this was just the tip of a vast musical iceberg. As part of this process of discovery, I came into contact with then almost entirely unknown English composer Havergal Brian (1876-1972), who at that time lived close by me on the South Coast of England.
"This personal contact led me, after the aged composer’s death, to take over running the nascent Havergal Brian Society in 1975, and I spent over 20 years, first as its Secretary and then its Chairman. When Brian died, much of his music had never been performed and not a note of it ever commercially recorded, despite a composing career of around three-quarters of a century. Due in part to the promotional efforts of our Society, much of Havergal's large output gradually came to be recorded in the subsequent four decades, and 2017, we will at last see all 32 of Brian’s symphonies, as well as many of his other works, available on CD in professional performances."
"The realization that the standard repertoire had missed at least one genius kickstarted my lifelong interest in exploring the work of other neglected composers. My main enthusiasm is for the Late Romantics. Alongside great masters like Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Strauss and Mahler, that cohort includes such partly-obscured figures as Schreker, Schmidt, Zemlinsky, Koechlin, Atterberg, Braunfels and many others – also, in Britain, contemporaries of Havergal Brian like Holst, Delius, Bridge and Bantock, to name just a few.
"Alongside these activities, I have intermittently pursued a side-career writing liner notes, first for LPs, later for CDs, and reviewing concerts and recordings. In my professional life, I edited for many years The Arup Journal, the flagship client magazine of the multi-national engineering design consultancy Arup. I was also author of the books How They Were Built (Kingfisher Books, 1991), and Bridges: 3000 Years of Defying Nature (Mitchell Beazley, 1993; second edition, 2005).
"After my retirement in December 2014, I at last put into action a long-cherished plan to explore and bring to light the work of the totally forgotten English Romantic composer, Henry Cotter Nixon (1842-1907). In December 2016, the first of three CDs of Nixon’s complete orchestral music was issued by the British company Toccata Classics, conducted by Paul Mann."
Over dinner at a Santa Monica eatery a couple of months ago, I learned that David had just returned from the Nixon recording in Hungary. Toward the end of the meal, he mused on what his next project might be. Before another word, I offered him a berth at LA Opus as a writer, and he accepted. David's primary focus will be on musical activities in the South Bay and harbor areas of Los Angeles County. Already up are six of David's contributions. Check them out here.
We welcome David to LA Opus.