Harold Brown, 1936
Biography by Sigmund Rosen
Addendum on performance and recording history
Ned Rorem's appreciation of Harold's compositions and mentoring, an excerpt from his 1994 Memoir Knowing When to Stop.
Peter Nelson-King, a musician, writer and researcher working near Seattle, writes about discovering and appreciating Harold’s music.
Pied Piper: The Many Lives of Noah Greenberg, by James Gollin, contains crucial details about Harold.
Pianist: A Biography of Eugene Istomin by James Gollin contains the clearest exposition of Harold’s esthetic, and influence on Istomin’s work. Also his personality quirks.
“Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro Musica: The Career, Reception, and Impact”, a thesis (2004) by Eriko Aoyama, tells how Noah Greenberg and his mentor Harold Brown worked together.
Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey, by David Horowitz, nephew of Harold Brown, offers one view of his and Harold’s family politics.
More Pictures of Harold
Click here for pictures of Harold sent by Lyssa Blair.
Harold Brown Archives
Click here for the Harold Brown Archives at University of Maryland.
For the Harold Brown Centennial, visit our Events page.
The Harold Brown CD Recording Project
Although we knew Harold Brown as a pioneer in bringing early music to North America, we did not know about the considerable body of original work he composed – music rarely played and never recorded – that his close associates, students and colleagues insist we hear and share with a larger audience.
The Association accepted the mandate to begin bringing Brown’s original musical compositions to the public, considering it an honor to do so. Recording a CD of some of his chamber music began in May, 2011, and the CD was released June 1, 2012.
Well before founding the Renaissance Chorus and having completed his musical studies at Columbia University and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, Harold Brown was composing music for strings during the 1930s and ’40s. These compositions represent youthful, passionate writing for strings in a modal idiom with influences of Stravinsky and his era, as well as of viol music from the Renaissance. Ned Rorem says, in his 1994 book, Knowing When to Stop: a Memoir, “Harold’s pieces purvey a mysterious appeal (and a solid scaffolding) that I‘ve never seen or heard since.” He also notes that Harold’s “not playing the game which is part of the rat race” deprived America’s music lovers of his music. With this project, we hope to rectify this loss.
In 2011 we obtained funding to begin the CD recording of Brown’s chamber music, starting with his Bearns Prize winning 1930 String Quartet, his 1932 String Quartet and his 1935 String Quintet (with two violas). We are delighted to have in performance the Tessera Quartet — Emily Daggett Smith, violin; Karen Ouzounian, cello; Edward Klorman, viola; and Cordelia Paw, violin — with guest violist Louise Schulman, all of whom have been associated with Juilliard School of Music. Producer/engineer for the recording was Grammy Award winning Marc Aubort. Recording was by ALBANY Records, specializing in American contemporary music, which obtained a coveted Aaron Copland Fund Grant as seed money for this project. Another $2,786 raised through Kickstarter along with generous contributions from many others, including Harold’s family and former Renaissance Chorus members, and a $1,000 grant from the Barbara Bell Cumming Foundation, helped greatly to make the project a resounding success.
The CD is TROY1352 from ALBANY Records.
We’d love to hear your opinion of the CD! Click here for CD Reviews & Discussion to add your voice or to see what others have said.
For the CD Release Party, visit our Events page.
Click here for Pictures from the Recording Session
Project engineer Marc Aubort receives
Fellowship Award from Audio Engineering
Society for “a long career of excellence
in the recording arts” October 20, 2011
The work of Harold Brown, gifted composer of chamber and orchestral music, needs to be out there among the recordings of his peers. Clearly interesting to students of early 20th century classical music, it will be heartily enjoyed by a much wider audience as well. We will bring Brown’s passionate music to the attention of this and future generations.
Contributions are always welcome! See "Contribute" on our Home page.