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H. Arthur Brown (1906-1992)

 

 

 

 

 

Nadia Boulanger Conservatory Fontainebleau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scheherazade RIMSKY-KORSAKOV

The second cover of Remington R-199-11 with Scheherazade conducted by Brown was created by Alex Steinweiss. The same cover was used for the RIAS recording, Karl Rucht conducting.

 

 

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The signature of H. Arthur Brown as it was printed in People and Pianos by Theodore E. Steinway, New York, 1953.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It is mentioned that Brown did study the violin under Moritz Rosen for 13 years. At Juilliard he studied under Paul Kochanski (who was from Odessa and who had become a teacher at Juilliard in 1924), under American violinist, conductor and composer Albert Stoessel, and under famous composer and pedagogue Rubin Goldmark.

On several early Remington covers a short biography of conductor Hine Arthur Brown can be found:


H. Arthur Brown was born in New York City and grew up in Seattle, Washington, where he attended the University of Washington before winning a three-year fellowship to the Juilliard Graduate School, followed by a scholarship for further study in Fontainebleau and Paris, France. He has conducted many important American orchestras and ranks among the leading conductors of today.
Outstanding in his development of symphony orchestras in the Great Southwest, he is now permanent musical director of the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
H. Arthur Brown brings to his Remington recordings the profound musical understanding and dynamic qualities which have earned for him an international reputation.

H. ARTHUR BROWN A Portrait in Oil
Hine Arthur Brown - "A portrait in oil"
(Artistic rendering of a portrait by R.A.B.)

In Fontainebleau Brown studied at the American Conservatory (founded in 1921) under no less than famous organist, composer and pedagogue Nadia Boulanger who also counted Aaron Copland, Roy Harris and Walter Piston amongst her pupils.

NOTE Nadia Boulanger (Paris, 1887) started of as professor in 1921 and in 1950 she was appointed director of the American Conservatory, a position which she held until her death in 1979 (she was 93!).

Brown returned to New York City in 1930 but soon took up the post of violin teacher at New Mexico's "College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts" (which today is called New Mexico State University, Las Cruces) located at a short distance from El Paso.
He started to reorganize the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and gave the first concert in 1931. Two years later he was conducting the Louisville Symphony Orchestra as well. He conducted the El Paso SO until the scheduled season of 1951/52.
Brown was an ambulant conductor. He not only traveled the large distance between El Paso and Louisville, but in the last years of his appointment in El Paso he traveled to yet another city in the South West, Tulsa that is, and founded the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra. That was in 1948. He stayed music director in Tulsa until 1958.

Don Gillis:
Tulsa, A Symphonic Portrait in Oil

In 1950 H. Arthur Brown traveled to Vienna to conduct the Orchestra of the Viennese Symphonic Society, also known as the Austrian Symphony Orchestra, the Nieder Oesterreichisches Tonkünstler Orchester, and whatever name the orchestra was given on the various Remington (and Plymouth) records.

Recordings of conductor H. Arthur Brown took place in the Musikverein on Monday, September 4, 1950 at 2.30 p.m. and at 7 p.m., on Thursday, September 7 at 6 p.m., on Friday, September 8, starting at noon, and on Saturday, Sptember 9, 1950 at 9.00 a.m. and on Tuesday, September 12, 1950 starting at 9 a.m. in the Musikverein.
The following year another series of recording sessions with H. Arthur Brown took place, on Monday, September 10, 1951, starting at 9.00 hrs. and again at 4 p.m. On Tuesday, September 11, at 9.00 a.m. and at 4.45 p.m. And again on Wednesday, September 12, starting at 8 o'clock in the morning. All data taken from the historical files of the Tonkuenstler Orchestra.

On Remington Don Gabor released the conductor's performances of symphonies by Brahms, Schubert and Tchaikovsky, orchestral pieces by Rimsky-Korsakov, Grieg, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Strauss, and there was the ten inch record with a composition written by Don Gillis: "Tulsa, A Symphonic Portrait in Oil", oddly enough also recorded with the Austrian SO for the Remington label and not with the Tulsa Philharmonic.

Don Gillis (Donald Eugene Gilles, 12 June, 1912 - 10 January, 1978), trumpeter, trombonist, and composer of the generation to which Morton Gould, Lou Harrison, Ulysses Kay, William Schuman and Robert Ward belong, was from 1944 on program director and producer for NBC in New York. Gillis wrote no less than 7 symphonies, several rhapsodies, piano concertos and orchestral suites, and several choral works.
"Tulsa, A Symphonic Portrait in Oil", completed July 7th, 1950, was commissioned for conductor H. Arthur Brown and the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra by the First National Bank and Trust Company of Tulsa to the occasion of the formal opening of the bank's new building on July 29th, 1950. Mr. Brown and the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra were engaged to play it in an outdoor concert in a specially constructed shell positioned in front of the bank.
Composer Don Gilles explained the music as follows:


Tulsa is a symphonic poem in four sections, the first of which is a pastoral movement depicting the land before the settling of the white man. This moves without a pause into a rather violent struggle for possession (marked at the beginning of the movement by the bugles and cannon shot that officially opened the territory) - this struggle, filled with the energy and passion of frontier civilization, ends in victory as the land is transformed from wilderness to homestead and then to a modern city. The third movement attempts to 'bring in' an oil well, and is graphic in its portrayal of the violence of a gusher. The final section is a celebration in which the population joins in a shirttail parade and square dance in the streets.

As with so many Remington recordings the question remains what the interpretations would have been like if the orchestra and conductor had more time for rehearsals and if the technical quality of the recording was of a higher standard. Nevertheless the abilities of the artists who performed for the Remington label are clear. Also in the case of H. Arthur Brown, who, it is reported, conducted many works from memory, without a score.

Listening to his Scheherazade recording one wonders what the distinction is between a broad line and a too slow tempo. Brown generally takes all the time and gives the solo violinist ample opportunity to present the theme and the music looses its organic coherence. Only in the second part of the second movement ("The Story of the Kalendar Prince") and in the fourth movement ("The Festival at Bagdad"), Brown gives the music more urgency.

Whatever the technical qualities of the sound recording and the matrix production, the important question is: To what extend is a conductor (or any artist) able to convey the energy of the music to his audience. While Scheherazade lacks tension, in Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony Brown reaches a high level of conviction. In the first movement he allows drama to develop and shows full understanding of the score. Despite irregularities in the execution, there is some sensitive playing by the orchestra in the other movements as well. The finale shows that Brown is in command while demanding the utmost virtuosity of the players.

The first movement of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony (Pathétique) is executed with care, alternating tension and lyricism, with beautiful strings. Beauty seems to be the main objective, that is why this movement initially lacks the deep grieving and suffering, yet in the end Brown and his players come to terms with the severity and the dramatic atmosphere of the movement. The Allegro starts as a simple ditty but gradually comes to life as well. The March (Third movement) is played in a virtuosic manner. It is clear in all playing that Brown is fully in command. The last movement gets all the time to develop, but the tension is somewhat lost. Nevertheless the recording shows that Brown knew what he was doing and he knew how to get some good music making out of the orchestra. Brown conducted various orhestras and one of these was the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1959.

The Remington recordings of H. Arthur Brown:

R-199-5 - Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 1
Music critic Cecil Smith remarked in New Republic: "Brahms's First Symphony, played by the Viennese Symphonic Society under H. Arthur Brown, conductor of the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Philharmonic Orchestra, is a creditable job; (...)."

SCHEHERAZADE R-199-11
The cover of the early release of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade which was superseded by the performance conducted by Karl Rucht (R-199-11).
The second cover was used for both the H. Arthur Brown and Karl Rucht releases.

R-199-11 - Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade
(In 1957 this recording was replaced by the performance of the
RIAS Symphony Orchestra under Karl Rucht, but the reference number remained the same.)

R-149-13 - Don Gillis: Tulsa, A Symphonic Portrait in Oil + Richard Strauss: Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier
(Varèse Sarabande 81046 from 1980 contains the same performance of Gillis's "Tulsa", together with Remington recordings of works of Glanville Hicks and Rudhyar).

R-199-13 - Peter Iljitch Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6

The earliest release of Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 (R-199-13) in a paper sleeve.

R-149-15 - Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 8 (with the Salzburg Festival Orchestra)

R-199-64 - Peter Iljitch Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4

R-199-67 - Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdi: A Midsummer Nights Dream

Brown's Schubert 8th Symphony on the Merit label. The cover mentions Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra. The label of the disk says "European Symphony Orchestra".

Le coq d'or (Rimsky-Korsakov) conducted by George Singer, coupled with Peer Gynt conducted by H. Arthur Brown. Both suites from Peer Gynt were later released on the Vibraton label and there it is stated that both Suites were directed by Georges Singer.

R-199-68 - Edward Grieg: Peer Gynt

None of these recordings were evaluated by Warren DeMotte in his Long Playing record Guide (1955), although the Schwann did list the Brown recordings in 1951 and in later issues, up to and including Schwann's Artist Listing of 1958. However, by then the listing of Brown's Scheherazade is not correct. It should have been mentioned as being the later recording of The RIAS Symphony with Karl Rucht, recorded about 1954.

Hine Arthur Brown died on May 27, 1992, at age 86, and was burried in El Paso's historic cemetry.

Rudolf A. Bruil Page first published March 6th, 2006


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