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Guide to the William C. Lynch Dennis Brain Collection ARS.0138
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Source
  • Scope and Contents of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: William C. Lynch Dennis Brain Collection
    Dates: circa 1921-2012
    Collection number: ARS.0138
    Creator: Lynch, William C., 1943-
    Collection size: 12 boxes [5.75 linear feet]
    Collection size summary: 12 boxes : Approximately 122 non-commercial compact discs, averaging four separate works per disc; 49 LP recordings; 12 78rpm recording; 33 commercially released compact disc recordings in addition to a special commercially released EMI Classics collection consisting of 58 analog cassette tape recordings; a 13 compact disc special collection retailed in Japan only containing rare works; 5 commercial and non-commercial compact disc recordings of Kaoru Chiba (1928-2008), Dennis Brain’s most prominent student; 4 photographs contributed by Ms. Mako Rova from the United States who attended Kaoru Chiba’s Celebration of Life in Japan at noon, June 28, 2008 at Blue Rose (Small Hall) in Suntory Hall, Minato-ku, Tokyo; 6 books of historical interest pertaining to the “Brain” era complementing the current inventory at the Stanford Library; sheet music in part consisting of rare works performed by Dennis Brain, some of which are no longer obtainable; a photo catalog consisting of numerous commercially licensed photos and non-commercially released photos of Brain including his very early years and while on US tour; research notes from numerous publications about Brain including critic reviews and those from conductors and composers with whom he worked; correspondences and notes pertaining to the Sotheby's auction of Brain's Music Library; a VHS recording showing Brain performing the Beethoven Sonata; a digital and a VHS recording of Brain appearing at the 1955 Edinburgh Festival, filmed on 1 September 1954 at the rehearsal outside Usher Hall narrated by Alistair Simm in which Brain is seen and heard performing the Siegfried Horn Call; other miscellaneous subject matter used as source material in the June 2011 publication of his definitive biography, Dennis Brain : a life in music, University of North Texas Press.
    Repository: Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries Stanford, California 94305-3076
    Abstract: The William C. Lynch Dennis Brain Collection consists of commercial and unpublished orchestral and solo recordings on audiocassette, compact disc, 33rpm long play and 78rpm records, VHS video cassette, and DVD, all featuring the world renowned British horn player, Dennis Brain (1921-1957). Also included are research notes, sheet music, photographs, and books pertaining to Dennis Brain from the late 1930’s to his death just prior to September 1957. It also includes research notes pertaining to the publication of the 2011 biography, Dennis Brain : a life in music. The collection is believed to be the largest of its kind, if not the most comprehensive and organized collection of recorded music related to Dennis Brain anywhere in the world.
    Language of Material: English


    Open for research; material must be requested at least two business days in advance of intended use. Contact the Archive for assistance.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with repository. Publication and reproduction rights reside with the creators or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Head Librarian of the Archive of Recorded Sound.

    Preferred Citation

    William C. Lynch Dennis Brain Collection, ARS-0138. Courtesy of the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    The William C. Lynch Dennis Brain Collection was donated to the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound by William C. Lynch in 2012.

    Scope and Contents of Collection

    The William C. Lynch Dennis Brain Collection consists of both commercially released and unpublished recordings of the world renowned British horn player, Dennis Brain (1921-1957), most of which have been obtained via over the air broadcasts. Others are derived from privately recorded performances, on reel-to-reel tape, of solo and orchestral performances from the late 1930s through the late 1950s, which were later transferred onto either disc or alternative tape media. The donated collection differs from other private Dennis Brain collections as: a) most of its contents exists in digital form, b) the collection is well documented by the donor who acquired its contents largely through exchange, on a work-for-work basis, with other collectors throughout the world, which in turn enabled the collection to grow over a period of many years, c) the proliferation of digital technology and the extent of the Internet which has enabled large numbers of Brain works to be commercially produced and stored on a single digital compact disc by the recording industry. Relational databases now facilitate the search process by providing ready access to a variety of archives including radio stations, libraries, recording studios, music societies, universities, TV broadcast stations, national archives, journals, newspapers, and critic reviews of past era performances, all of which serve to provide an extensive amount of information relating to the life and work of Dennis Brain.
    Sources for the collection's audio recordings vary. They include live and recorded off-the-air broadcasts, recorded on tape and then later transferred to compact disc; rebroadcasts from international festivals; commercially released compact disc recordings; compact disc recordings purchased from the British Library Sound Archive; miscellaneous radio stations; various video distributors; the BBC; Stanford University's Archive of Recorded Sound (specifically ARS0124 - Nate Brown Western Sound Archive Collection); Oesterreichischer Rundfunk (ORF), Salzburg; Deutschland Radio; Pathe’ News; the worldwide Dennis Brain collector community; and used record shops throughout the world.
    The audio portion of this collection primarily consists of solo and orchestral works performed by Dennis Brain, along with various rehearsal recordings. Many of the solo works included were composed for him by Britain’s leading composers of the day. The collection also includes recorded lectures by Brain related to the early horn and its evolution along with interviews with critics, colleagues, composers, conductors, friends and associates of Brain, and other leading principals of the British music scene as late as December 2011 when BBC Radio 3 featured a broadcast on Dennis Brain during one of its featured programs, Music Matters. Some works within the collection may appear redundant as to the composer. However Brain recorded the same works with different conductors and in his earlier years with different orchestras including the Royal Air Force Symphony Orchestra. More often than not, more than one work or performance is included on a chosen cassette tape or compact disc. Movements are identified on separate compact disc tracks in most cases. In all but a few instances, programs, conductor, orchestra, recording dates and program duration are listed on the compact disc cover. Similar details are also enclosed with the audiocassettes. Also included within the audio collection are five recordings by Kaoru Chiba, Dennis Brain’s most prominent student. His testimony to Brain’s greatness is faithfully reproduced through his writings, consisting of five published papers, also part of this collection.
    Brain performed under no less than seventy conductors, eventually becoming conductor of his own wind quintet, wind ensemble and chamber orchestra. He recorded with no fewer than fourteen orchestras and seven string ensembles, The London Mozart Players and The London Wind Ensemble being among the most notable. Brain is heard on the majority of the collection's recordings, including RAF Symphony Orchestra recordings from the war years along with recordings from various London music halls and European music festivals.
    Also featured are recordings of Brain as organist. It is little known fact that in addition to being a world renowned horn player, Brain was also an excellent organist, having studied under George Dorrington Cunningham (1878 – 1948), whose others students included E. Power Biggs. Brain is featured as organist on a number of recordings in the collection, including one of the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni, featuring The Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, 24 July 1954. Additional recordings featuring Brain as organist include, A Grand Grand Overture from the Hoffnung Music Festival Concert, Royal Festival Hall, London, 13 November 1956 and an Afrikaans broadcast for "Dingaans Day", 16 December 1940.
    Also included in the collection are rare books of the period which served as resource material in the writing of the 2011 biography Dennis Brain : a life in music. The book collection complements those currently residing in the Stanford Library.
    Finally, the collection also includes research notes in hard-copy and digital formats, consisting of critic reviews; articles about Brain composed by peers who knew and worked with him, composers, conductors, musicologists and musicians; music journals; international newspapers; professional journals; recording reviews; published academia; sheet music of works performed by Brain; a Sotheby's auction catalog, listing items from Brain’s music library; notes gathered from the Hoover Institution archives pertaining to the war years; BBC wartime broadcasts of Brain works; program notes from a 2002 celebration of Dennis Brain’s 80th birthday; videocassettes and DVDs of movies in which Brain was an orchestral member for the accompanying film music; a private collection of commercial and private photographs; video of a 1955 Edinburgh Festival rehearsal, made in 1954, featuring Brain performing the Siegfried Horn Call; and other miscellaneous documents to aid future researchers in this field.
    The collection is believed to be the largest of its kind, if not the most comprehensive and organized collection of recorded music related to Dennis Brain anywhere in the world. It is considered a living donation through which additions to the collection will continue as new recordings and findings pertaining to this extraordinary musician are discovered.


    Original order has been maintained as closely as possible.

    Indexing Terms

    Brain, Dennis , 1921-1957
    Horn music
    Horn players
    Instrumental music