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William Denis Browne in A


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Slightly obscure request... can anyone point me towards a recording or score of William Denis Browne's Mag and Nunc in A? Fans of English song might be familiar with Browne's (IMHO exquisite) contributions to the genre, but I can't find anything on his only liturgical contribution. Many thanks in advance.

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There is an ‘electronic’ version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xO383l4DN8.


His Canticles were performed and broadcast live last year from Clare, in a Choral Evensong on BBC Radio 3. Their Chapel Service Music List Archive doesn’t yet extend into 2014.


This was on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of something, probably to do with Gallipoli.


I know that Clare hold the manuscript, but am not aware of any plans to have it published. However, you could always enquire. Also, as to whether they might include the Canticles in a future recording, for commercial release.


I am in complete agreement regarding his small œuvre of songs: ‘Gratiana’ must be in the Top Ten of all English art songs. Interestingly, his ‘Salathiel’ is included in a recording from John’s, sung by one of the trebles. A composer of the most beautiful music: one of those of all nations who were so tragically lost to humanity, before they achieved their due glory.


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As mentioned above the only music of Browne's that exists is the contents of one box of surviving pieces held by the archive of Clare College, Cambridge, plus one other autograph manuscript held by the British Library.


In a letter to Edward Dent written either the day before or even the day of his death, in 1915, Denis Browne wrote."It’s all rubbish except Gratiana, (perhaps) Salathiel Pavey, & the Comic Spirit...Everything else except what I’ve mentioned must be destroyed." (King's College Archive Centre PP/EJD 4/61)


Robert Athol, the Edgar Bowring Archivist at Clare College, may be the person to contact.


Good luck in your search.


(Further digging has resulted in "some Latin Church music has been performed in Westminster Cathedral") - it might be worth an e-mail to Martin Baker or Jenny Forsyth, the Music Administrator there.


Clearly it wasn't all destroyed!

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is a temporary (from 3rd March to10th May 2015) exhibition in Royal Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum "A Leamington Musical Meteor: William Denis Browne" which is both poignant and interesting. Sheet music and correspondence are displayed - though the sheet music are secular songs and not Browne in A is not present. Photos illustrate Browne's short life: as a schoolboy in Leamington and at Rugby School, as Organ Scholar at Clare College, Cambridge (though the photo is of the organ in the Queens' College.....), Gallipoli and his close friendship with famous poets. There is also music to listen to via headphones and it is easy to hear why he was held in high esteem as a composer by his contemporaries. Perhaps not worth a long journey, but certainly of interest to those within reasonable distance.


Connected is the Gallilopi Music Memorial 2015 with various musical events featuring Browne's music over the year, including a concerts at Kings College on the 26th April, two events on the date of Browne's death the 4th June - a concert at St Martin-in-the -Fields and Evensong at Clare which I imagine will include the Mag and Nunc. Other events and more information at: http://www.gallipoli-music.co.uk/

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