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Brindle, Reginald Smith (1917-2003) | Special Collections & Archives

Name: Brindle, Reginald Smith (1917-2003)

Historical Note:

Reginald Smith Brindle was born on January 5, 1917 in Cuerdon, Lancashire, England, to Robert Smith Brindle, a livestock breeder, and Jane Brindle, a homemaker. He attended Hutton Grammar School in Preston, Lancashire, where he skipped several grades and from which he graduated at age fifteen. Apprenticed to a local architect by his father after graduation, he joined the military as a member of the Royal Engineers, serving in Africa and Italy. In Florence, he met his future wife, Giulietta Borsi, whom he married in 1947; they had one son and three daughters. He studied music at the University College of North Wales in Bangor and independently in Italy, and was professor at his alma mater and at the University of Surrey.

Brindle took an early interest in music despite the fact that his parents had only limited musical ability or interest. During his early childhood, he experimented with and took lessons in several instruments, including piano, flute, organ, and guitar. At Hutton, he learned the clarinet and saxophone, and he played in jazz bands semi-professionally on weekends between graduation and his enlistment in the army.

After the war, he remained in Italy until his discharge; during this time, he won the award for the Rome Army Arts Festival in 1946 and enrolled in an Army sponsored music course in Florence. Returning to England when his service ended, he studied music at the University College of North Wales in Bangor from 1946 to 1949, then returned to Florence in 1949, where he supported himself as a journalist, import-export manager, radio announcer, and translator. He also studied composition with Ildebrando Pizzetti and Luigi Dallapiccola. Dallapiccola was a member of the scuola dodecafonica or twelve-tone school of Florence, which also included the composers Bruno Bartolozzi, Sylvano Bussotti, and Luciano Berio.

Brindle's studies in Italy led to his composition of a number of works in the Italian serialist school, as well as modern editions of works by earlier composers, but he did not stay with one tradition or instrument for long. Over the course of his career, he composed works for percussion, organ, saxophone, choir, orchestra, and electronic tape. Inspiration for his works came from Greek myth, spirituals, the Old and New Testaments, the writings of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dylan Thomas, and Basho, the tapestries of Jean Lurçat, the paintings of Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso, and Egyptian monumental architecture. He wrote pieces for the guitarist Julian Bream and studied guitar with Andrés Segovia.

Returning to England in 1957, he became a lecturer at the University College of North Wales. From 1970, he was professor of music at the University of Surrey, until 1985 when he retired. His achievements, in addition to his teaching and composition, include many articles and several highly respected books on modern music, including serialism, percussion, and composition. Reginald Smith Brindle passed away on September 9, 2003 in Caterham, Surrey, England

Note Author: Philip Walsh

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