Wilfred Brown (1922-1971) was an accomplished English tenor.
He was born in Horsham, Sussex and educated at Collyer's School, then at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and Trinity College of Music. Brown was a lifelong member of the Religious Society of Friends. He was Master in charge of Music at Bedales (in which position he taught Gerald Finzi's two sons) before becoming a full-time musician.
Like fellow Petersfield resident Michael John Hurd, he championed the work of Gerald Finzi, who was a personal friend. He first sang Finzi's Dies natalis in 1952 under the composer's baton, and was to become Finzi's favoured soloist in several subsequent performances of the work. Brown also gave the first performance of Till Earth Outwears, a posthumous collection of Finzi's settings of poems by Thomas Hardy, in 1957 at Ashmansworth. In 1963 he recorded what is often cited as the definitive performance of Dies natalis with the English Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of the composer's son, Christopher Finzi.
He was also a great friend of the guitarist John Williams and together they recorded an album of music by Benjamin Britten, Stephen Dodgson and John Dowland (released in 1969 on Columbia Odyssey), and a collection of English folk songs.
Brown died in Petersfield from a brain tumour on 5 March 1971, aged 49. In his last recital, given at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, he had sung Dies Natalis.
^ New Grove Encyclopaedia of Music (2005),
^ McVeagh, Diana. Gerald Finzi: His Life and Music. Boydell Press, 2005: p. 207,
^ McVeagh, Diana. "A Finzi Discography", Tempo, New Series, No. 136. (Mar., 1981), pp. 19-22, 1,
^ McVeagh (2005): p. 253,
^ Tempo, New Ser., No. 45. (Autumn, 1957), pp. 1-4,
^ 2 Songs for Voice and Guitar.,
^ Belart 461 4892 released 1998 CD,
^ Obituary by John Stevens in The Musical Times, Vol. 112, No. 1539. (May, 1971), p. 478, 3,
^ Sleeve notes from Wilfred Brown and John Williams: Folk songs (Belart 461 4892, released 1998), John T. Hughes,
Date of birth
Place of birth
Horsham, West Sussex UK
Date of death
5 March 1971
Place of death
Petersfield, England, UK