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Philip Jones Brass Ensemble

Although the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble actually formed in 1951, its first full-length concert did not take place until the 1962 Aldeburgh Festival. Moreover, the group made its first recording only in 1970. It was the first such brass ensemble to perform in the world's major concert halls and to record with the preeminent labels. Philip Jones (born 1928), the ensemble's founder, was a virtuoso trumpet player whose first important position was with the Covent Garden orchestra, where he played from 1948 to 1951. About the time he resigned from there, Jones founded the ensemble bearing his name, which consisted of a quintet of players featuring two trumpets, a horn, trombone, and tuba.

The players most closely associated with the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble during its 35-year existence were Elgar Howarth (trumpet), who was also a well-known composer and conductor; Ifor James (horn); John Iveson (trombone); John Fletcher (tuba); and of course, Jones. Other players over the years, generally those added when ten pieces were used, included the famed horn player Alan Civil, James Watson, John Wilbraham, Rod Franks, John Miller, Denis Wick, Dave Stewart, Chris Mowat, and Frank Lloyd.

Jones joined the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for four seasons, beginning in 1956, then the Philharmonia in 1960 for an identical tenure. From 1962, the PJBE slowly built a reputation that evolved as their repertory grew, especially from pieces by Giovanni Gabrieli and Johann Pezel. Jones had shorter stints with other British orchestras in the 1960s: the London Philharmonic in 1964-1965, the New Philharmonic Orchestra in 1965-1967, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1968 to 1972. By the time Jones had left the BBC, his ensemble had made its first recordings and was in demand not only in the U.K., but throughout Europe and the U.S. They began to draw important commissions too, including one from American composer Raymond Premru, who composed his Divertimento for them in 1976. But the PJBE also began playing other modern works, including ones by Richard Rodney Bennett, Hans Werner Henze, and Toru Takemitsu. The ensemble also began working with choral groups, in particular with the London Bach Choir. Much of the repertory of the PJBE were transcriptions of well-known classical works. Elgar Howarth made one of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition in 1979, which the group then premiered and recorded.

Jones, who had allotted some of his time to teaching when he left the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1972, retired from the ensemble in 1986, thereafter focusing his professional activities on teaching. Yet he might have continued the PJBE had a freak accident not hastened his decision to retire: he drove his automobile over his trumpet case. The group then disbanded, but re-formed under the name the London Brass. Without doubt, the PJBE was one of the most influential instrumental ensembles in terms of laying the groundwork for the establishment of similar highly successful groups, such as the Canadian Brass and the Empire Brass.
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: The 20th Century Album

Disc 1
Composer: Elgar Howarth
Title: Processional Fanfare, For Brass

1. Processional Fanfare, For Brass: Processional Fanfare

Composer: André Jolivet
Title: Fanfares For Britannicus

2. Fanfares For Britannicus: Prelude

Composer: Michael Tippett
Title: Fanfare No.1 For 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets & 3 Trombones

3. Fanfare No.1 For 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets & 3 Trombones: Fanfare For Brass

Composer: Aaron Copland
Title: Ceremonial Fanfare, For Brass Ensemble

4. Ceremonial Fanfare, For Brass Ensemble: Ceremonial Fanfare

Composer: Havergal Brian
Title: The Cenci, Opera

5. The Cenci, Opera: Fanfare From The Cenci

Composer: Benjamin Britten
Title: Fanfare For St. Edmundsbury, For Trumpets In Multiples Of 3
Composer: Stephen Dodgson
Title: Suite For Brass Septet
Composer: Leonard Salzedo
Title: Divertimento, For Brass Sextet
Composer: Richard Rodney Bennett
Title: Fanfare For Brass Quintet

15. Fanfare For Brass Quintet: Fanfare For Brass Quintet

Composer: André Previn
Title: Four Outings For Brass
Composer: Francis Poulenc
Title: Sonata for horn, trumpet & trombone, FP 33
Composer: Gunther Schuller
Title: Symphony For Brass & Percussion, Op 16
Disc 2
Composer: Leos Janácek
Title: Sinfonietta For Orchestra ("Military," "Sokol Festival"), Jw 6/18
Composer: Arthur Bliss
Title: Fanfare For The Lord Mayor Of London, For Brass & Percussion, F. 65
Composer: Henri Tomasi
Title: Fanfares Liturgiques For Brass Ensemble
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Title: The Eagle Has Two Heads, Incidental Music For Brass & Percussion
Composer: Malcolm Arnold
Title: Symphony For Brass Instruments, Op. 123
Composer: Paul Hindemith
Title: Morgenmusik, For Brass Ensemble (from Plöner Musiktag)
Composer: Kurt Weill
Title: Kleine Dreigroschenmusik, Suite For Wind Orchestra (Based On "Die Dreigroschenoper")

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