Harold Brown

Harold Douglas Brown, pianist, coach (born 28 October 1917 in Wynyard, SK; died 4 January 2011 in Burnaby, BC).

Harold Douglas Brown, pianist, coach (born 28 October 1917 in Wynyard, SK; died 4 January 2011 in Burnaby, BC). A pianist and teacher of marked sensitivity and insight, Harold Brown worked with the Vancouver Opera, Theatre Under the Stars, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Career Highlights

After studies in his home town, Brown moved in 1936 to Vancouver, where his teachers included J.D.A. Tripp, Barbara Custance, Phyllis Schuldt and Hugh Bancroft. A leading ensemble pianist in Vancouver, Brown toured with various chamber groups in the mid-1950s, including the Cassenti Players. He was often heard, as soloist and accompanist, on CBC Radio and also appeared on television.

He was accompanist for the British Columbia (later Kiwanis) Music Festival, the Vancouver Opera (1960–70) and Theatre Under the Stars (1958–63), and pianist for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (1964–67). He was also an accompanist and coach at the Banff Centre for the Arts (1972–90), where he assisted both singers and pianists. He accompanied John Alexander, Donald Bell, Judith Forst, Allan Monk, Arthur Polson, Marie Schilder, Bernard Turgeon, Lyn Vernon and George Zukerman, among others.

In 1973, he became music director of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver. After 1974, he focused primarily on the accompaniment of singers. He also served as an adjudicator at competition festivals and for such organizations as the British Columbia Registered Music Teachers’ Association and the Clef Society. Among the works he premiered are Robert Turner’s Diversities for violin, bassoon and piano (with Arthur Polson and George Zukerman); Murray Adaskin’s Cassenti Concertante (with the Cassenti Players at Expo 67); Pentland’s Soong Songs (with Winona Denyes); and Coulthard’s Sonatina for bassoon and piano (with Zukerman).

Following his death, the Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI) established a memorial scholarship in his honour. VISI also praised Brown as “a pianist of extraordinary insight and a collaborative artist of strength and sensitivity” at a memorial tribute concert in 2012.

A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.