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.
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
Don Gabor released
the conductor's performances of symphonies by Brahms, Schubert and
Tchaikovsky, orchestral pieces by Rimsky-Korsakov, Grieg, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
and Strauss, on 12 inch Long Playing discs. 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
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 by the First National Bank and Trust Company
of Tulsa to be performed by conductor H. Arthur Brown and the
Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra at 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:
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." - Don Gillis
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 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 as far as the recording and pressing allows. 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
first part of the symphony. 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 that Brown is fully in command.
The last movement - adagio lamentoso - 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