|Branwell Bronte, a self-portrait.|
Branwell Bronte, who lived from 1817 to 1848, was the brother of the three famous sisters from Haworth in West Yorkshire. He was a writer, artist, musician and for a time a railway worker, but he never discovered his true vocation in a life marred by drugs and alcohol. Branwell played the flute for a while and between 1831 and 1832 made a handwritten collection of tunes. His notebook is an interesting snapshot of contemporary taste. As might be expected from the son of a parson, the collection contains a number of hymn tunes and there are transcriptions of arias from popular operas of the day. Scottish songs and marches feature prominently and it is interesting to note a number of tunes still familiar today; 'Home, Sweet Home', 'Ye Banks and Braes', 'Auld Lang Syne' and 'Men of Harlech' among others.
For those who would like to listen to Branwell's tunes I have recorded a selection on YouTube which can be accessed via YouTube or Facebook.
- Peter Harrison
Peter Harrison is director of the early music ensemble Concert Royal: www.classical-artists.com/concertroyal.