14 August 2010

No Brainer

At an early age, Dennis Brain was allowed to blow a few notes on his father's horn every Saturday morning. He once performed a Leopold Mozart horn concerto on rubber hose pipes at a Gerard Hoffnung music festival in 1956, trimming the hose to length with garden shears to achieve the correct tuning. Brain was notoriously careless; his instrument had an impressive array of dents, and Benjamin Britten autographed one score "For Dennis - in case he loses the other one".
On 1 September 1957, aged 36, Brain was killed driving his Triumph TR2 into a tree on the A1 near the De Havilland Aircraft factory at Hatfield. He loved fast cars and was known for keeping Autocar magazine on his stand as he played the Mozart concertos from memory during recording sessions.

His headstone is engraved with a passage from Hindemith's Declamation section from his Horn Concerto:

My call transforms
The hall to autumn-tinted groves
What is into what
Has been....

It was only when I had finished cutting this block that I remembered we were Brain's neighbours just before he died.
Woodcut 30cm x 20cm. Click to enlarge.
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