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St Peter's Brighton and Gavin Brown


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The recent mention of St Peter's Brighton reminded me of a broadcast in the mid 1960s of the complete Symphonie No1 of Vierne performed by the church's organist Gavin Brown. As an enthusiastic schoolboy, I wrote to him and he invited me to join him there after Sunday morning Mattins for a tour to the instrument. It was the first time I had seen a HNB rebuilt with the then-trendy rectangular thumb pistons. I recall little of the detail but two things that stuck in my mind were the thunderous pedal Ophicleide and the tierce mixtures on the Great and Swell.


Where did Gavin Brown go after leaving St Peter's? I cannot remember seeing his name as a recitalist thereafter.





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Gavin Brown taught for years at the RAM and the Junior Academy. He gave up St Peter's when his RAM work became heavier and he moved to Essex. When he retired from the RAM he became organist of Rayleigh parish church in Essex, from which I believe he retired about a year or so ago. (I think he was born in or around 1928.) His wife is (or was) a Salvationist and he had several daughters. One if his reasons for moving to Essex, I recall, was a better choice of schools for his daughters.


He is still an honorary life vice president of the Brighton organists' association and one or two people - notably Janette Cooper - keep in contact with him. The last time I saw him was years ago when he examined me for LRAM organ teaching in St James's Sussex Gardens (I passed).


I can remember when he used to broadcast recitals from St Peter's fairly regularly on national radio. These days the level of passing traffic - particularly noisy fire engines &c., - would render this impossible.



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