Gary Clifford Dennis Brain OBE (1943 - 20 April 2015) was a New Zealand timpanist and conductor. He was principal timpanist with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra until an accident damaged his wrist beyond repair. After that he retrained as a conductor, studying under Rafael Kubelík for four years, and attended master classes with Lorin Maazel. He was a professional conductor from 1990 until his death.
Background and personal life:
Brain was born in Palmerston North, New Zealand in 1943, the only child of Charlotte Helen (Ivy) and Clifford Charles Brain. As a child he studied the piano, cello, horn and percussion instruments. Brain was a foundation member of the Manawatu Youth Orchestra and was also a member of the Wellington Youth Orchestra and New Zealand National Youth Orchestra.
Brain lived in Paris with his partner from 1986 until his death. He was divorced and had two children.
He began his career as a timpanist after attending Berlin's Staatliche Hochschule für Musik. He studied piano, cello and composition with Boris Blacher and timpani with Werner Tharichen, the timpanist of the Berlin Philharmonic. He played in the BBC Training Orchestra in Bristol, United Kingdom.
Brain played as a percussionist with the National Orchestra of Wales and the Ulster Orchestra in Ireland and as timpanist with the Royal Opera, London. In 1968 he was appointed principal timpanist with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
About this time, Brain founded his "Concerts in Schools" programme. He toured New Zealand with one tonne of instruments, doing solo performances at schools, colleges and universities. He aimed to bring classical music to young people in a light-hearted and interesting way and at the same time promote the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He also took his one man programme to Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Egypt.
He also founded "Music for Youth" (Jeunesses Musicals) the South Pacific's branch of the World Youth Orchestra.
On a United Airlines flight to the United States, a suitcase fell from an overhead locker and crushed Brain's wrist. Despite many operations, and with serious septicaemia infections, he was unable to continue his playing career.
In the 1984 New Year Honours, Brain was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to music. He is also a recipient of a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship and Artistes de la Paix UNESCO.
"Verre et Violon", a sonata for violin inspired by Juan Gris's painting "Violin and Glass",
"Waitomo", soundtrack for a Japanese film,
"Symphony for Large String Orchestra",
"Manco Capac", a ballet in one act.,
^ Eames, David (19 January 2009). "Conductor drumming up interest in art roadshow". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 September 2011. ,
^ Sad news: A Paris conductor has died,
^ Gary Brain - career.,
^ NZ "Listener" Feb 2009,
^ London Gazette (supplement), No. 49584, 30 December 1983. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
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