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.
(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!)
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.
Tulsa, A Symphonic Portrait in Oil
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Remington recordings of H. Arthur Brown:
- Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 1
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; (...)."
cover of the early release of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade
which was superseded by the performance conducted by Karl Rucht
The second cover was used for both the H. Arthur Brown and Karl
- Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade
(In 1957 this recording was replaced by the performance of the
Symphony Orchestra under Karl Rucht, but the reference number
remained the same.)
- 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).
- Peter Iljitch Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6
earliest release of Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 (R-199-13) in
a paper sleeve.
- Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 8
(with the Salzburg Festival Orchestra)
- Peter Iljitch Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4
- Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdi: A Midsummer Nights Dream