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Work

Havergal Brian

Havergal Brian Composer

Symphony No.1 in D- for soloists, chorus, brass bands & orchestra, "The Gothic"   

Performances: 4
Tracks: 94
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Musicology (work in progress):
  • Symphony No.1 in D- for soloists, chorus, brass bands & orchestra, "The Gothic"
    Key: D-
    • VI: Te ergo quaesumus (excerpt)
    • Part 1, 1. Allegro assai [Part 1]
    • Part 1, 1. Allegro assai [Part 2]
    • Part 1, 1. Allegro assai [Part 3]
    • Part 1, 1. Allegro assai [Part 4]
    • Part 1, 2. Lento espressivo solenne [Part 1]
    • Part 1, 2. Lento espressivo solenne [Part 2]
    • Part 1, 2. Lento espressivo solenne [Part 3]
    • Part 1, 3. Vivace [Part 1]
    • Part 1, 3. Vivace [Part 2]
    • Part 1, 3. Vivace [Part 3]
    • Part 1, 3. Vivace [Part 4]
    • Part 1, 3. Vivace [Part 5]
    • Part 1, 3. Vivace [Part 6]
    • Part 1, 3. Vivace [Part 7]
    • Part 2, 4. Te Deum Laudams: Allegro moderato [Part 1]
    • Part 2, 4. Te Deum Laudams: Allegro moderato [Part 2]
    • Part 2, 4. Te Deum Laudams: Allegro moderato [Part 3]
    • Part 2, 4. Te Deum Laudams: Allegro moderato [Part 4]
    • Part 2, 4. Te Deum Laudams: Allegro moderato [Part 5]
    • Part 2, 4. Te Deum Laudams: Allegro moderato [Part 6]
    • Part 2, 4. Te Deum Laudams: Allegro moderato [Part 7]
    • Part 2, 4. Te Deum Laudams: Allegro moderato [Part 8]
    • Part 2, 4. Te Deum Laudams: Allegro moderato [Part 9]
    • Part 2, 4. Te Deum Laudams: Allegro moderato [Part 10]
    • Part 2, 4. Te Deum Laudams: Allegro moderato [Part 11]
    • Part 2, 5. Judex: Adagio molto e religioso [Part 1]
    • Part 2, 5. Judex: Adagio molto e religioso [Part 2]
    • Part 2, 5. Judex: Adagio molto e religioso [Part 3]
    • Part 2, 5. Judex: Adagio molto e religioso [Part 4]
    • Part 2, 5. Judex: Adagio molto e religioso [Part 5]
    • Part 2, 5. Judex: Adagio molto e religioso [Part 6]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 1]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 2]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 3]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 4]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 5]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 6]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 7]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 8]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 9]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 10]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 11]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 12]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 13]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 14]
    • Part 2, 6. Te ergo quaesumus [Part 15]
    • Part 1. I - Allegro assai [Part 1]
    • Part 1. I - Allegro assai [Part 2]
    • Part 1. I - Allegro assai [Part 3]
    • Part 1. I - Allegro assai [Part 4]
    • Part 1. II - Lento espressivo e solenne [Part 1]
    • Part 1. II - Lento espressivo e solenne [Part 2]
    • Part 1. II - Lento espressivo e solenne [Part 3]
    • Part 1. III - Vivace [Part 1]
    • Part 1. III - Vivace [Part 2]
    • Part 1. III - Vivace [Part 3]
    • Part 1. III - Vivace [Part 4]
    • Part 1. III - Vivace [Part 5]
    • Part 1. III - Vivace [Part 6]
    • Part 1. III - Vivace [Part 7]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. IV - Te Deum laudamus: Allegro moderato [Part 1]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. IV - Te Deum laudamus: Allegro moderato [Part 2]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. IV - Te Deum laudamus: Allegro moderato [Part 3]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. IV - Te Deum laudamus: Allegro moderato [Part 4]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. IV - Te Deum laudamus: Allegro moderato [Part 5]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. IV - Te Deum laudamus: Allegro moderato [Part 6]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. IV - Te Deum laudamus: Allegro moderato [Part 7]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. IV - Te Deum laudamus: Allegro moderato [Part 8]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. IV - Te Deum laudamus: Allegro moderato [Part 9]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. IV - Te Deum laudamus: Allegro moderato [Part 10]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. IV - Te Deum laudamus: Allegro moderato [Part 11]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. V - Judex: Adagio molto solenne e religioso [Part 1]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. V - Judex: Adagio molto solenne e religioso [Part 2]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. V - Judex: Adagio molto solenne e religioso [Part 3]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. V - Judex: Adagio molto solenne e religioso [Part 4]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. V - Judex: Adagio molto solenne e religioso [Part 5]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. V - Judex: Adagio molto solenne e religioso [Part 6]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 1]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 2]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 3]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 4]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 5]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 6]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 7]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 8]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 9]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 10]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 11]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 12]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 13]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 14]
    • Part 2. Te Deum. VI - Te ergo quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto [Part 15]
    • Te ergo quaesimus
English composer Havergal Brian spent eight years working on his mammoth Symphony No. 1 in D minor, "The Gothic," composing it during the evenings while spending his days making a pittance copying music. Begun in 1919 and completed in 1927, "The Gothic" is a by-product of World War I, which many Britons felt signified the end of all that was decent and incorruptible in the world. The forces required to perform "The Gothic" earned Brian recognition in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest ever asked for in the history of Western music: four vocal soloists, a children's chorus numbering 100 voices, and an adult chorus of four double choirs numbering no less than 500 voices. Add to this an on-stage orchestra of 32 winds, 24 brass, 4 tympani, and 18 percussionists, 4 keyboards and harps, and 82 strings. In addition to this already huge ensemble there are four off-stage groups consisting of 24 brass players and a tympanist in each. This works out to around 800 parts, and depending on how the conductor feels the need to balance out the chorus and orchestra mix to achieve clarity, a performance of "The Gothic" can easily involve more than 1,000 people.

The full score was brought out by Cranz & Co. in 1932 and for many years, like Charles Ives' own publication of the Concord Sonata, was trotted out by music professors in order to demonstrate to students an extreme example of impractical musical lunacy. Brian's timing for the introduction of "The Gothic" couldn't have been worse; between the wars, Western music was strongly oriented toward piquancy and neo-Classic concision of expression. In the 1930s anything referred to as "gothic" smacked of undesirable Romanticism that young composers of the day went out of their way to avoid; certainly a score as big and bloated as Brian's could be nothing more than a white elephant. Not everyone shared this view; composer Richard Strauss, himself facing stylistic eclipse, admired Brian's work, as did conductor Eugene Goossens, who tried unsuccessfully to mount a performance of "The Gothic" at one of the Cincinnati May Festivals of the 1930s.

It was finally heard for the first time in 1961 in London with an amateur group under conductor Bryan Fairfax; at this time the composer was 85 years old. Sir Adrian Boult gave the first professional performance at the Royal Albert Hall on October 30, 1966, and it was issued on a pirated LP. Although the sound of the LP was poor, it at least convinced musicians that there might be something to "The Gothic." The work is so loud at times that it is difficult to record well; nonetheless, conductor Ondrej Lenard achieved this end for Naxos in 1989. Now that it can truly be heard, it is clear that the symphony is "gothic" in terms of architecture; musicologist Paul Rapoport has likened its six parts to the six points on the cruciform plan of a gothic cathedral. It embodies influences ranging from Elgar to Edgard Varèse to Renaissance part writing, and culminates in a massive setting of the Latin Te Deum, which Brian decided to set only after abandoning a text extracted from Goethe's Faust. Despite its unwieldy size and length, running to nearly two hours, "The Gothic" is never boring; indeed, new details emerge through repeated hearings no matter how many times it is enjoyed. It is no small miracle that a composer of working-class origins such as Brian could create a complex work so rich in multiple meanings that easily rivals and exceeds the size of the Beethoven Ninth or Mahler's Eighth, yet is addressed to the future and shaped in the materials of the past.

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