Musical Times, Octber 1957
Dennis Brain, who was killed in a car accident at Hatfield on 1 September while he was driving back from the Edinburgh Festival, was only thirty-six, and the news of his death came as a shock to musicians and music-lovers the world over. At Edinburgh he had given a concert with the wind ensemble that bears his name, besides playing as a principal horn of the Philharmonia Orchestra.
He was born in London on 17 May 1921, and after leaving St. Paul's School he went to the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied the horn with his father, Aubrey Brain, and the organ with G. D. Cunningham. He made his first public appearance in 1938, when he took part in a Brandenburg Concerto with his father and the Busch Chamber Players. During the war he was in the R. A. F. Band, and in 1943 Benjamin Britten wrote his Serenade for tenor solo, horn and strings, with Peter Pears and Dennis Brain in mind as the chief performers. Other composers who have written works specially for Brain include Hidemith, York Bowen and Malcolm Arnold, whose Horn Concerto was given for the first time at the Cheltenham Festival last July.
A most likeable man, and completely unassuming Dennis Brain was a virtuoso as a horn-player: his firm, round tone, his control of his instrument and the distinction of his phrasing, were as remarkable as the apparent ease with which he accomplished the most difficult feats. At Edinburgh recently Eugene Ormandy said he was 'a very great artist and a very great English-man, whose loss will be felt not only in this country, but throughout the whole world. As a soloist,' he added, 'Dennis Brain had no peer.'