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Francis James Brown (Joseph James)
1925 - 2008
United States of America, NY
Picture Picture
Brown & Seeger
The music of Joseph James is the fruit of a long-standing collaboration between the composers:
- Francis James Brown
  and
- Stanley Joseph Seeger
Both are composers in their own right, having first met in Florence in the early 1950s while studying with Luigi Dallapiccola. Their recorded works include the film score for Priest of Love, a film biography of D.H.Lawrence directed by Christopher Miles, Sketches from The Scarlet Letter, an opera based on the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Concerto for 3 Bouzoukis and orchestra and Requiem after J.S.Bach, a moving and imaginative interpretation of Bach's music used for a setting of the Latin requiem mass.
Source:booklet of cd Requiem after J.S. Bach Black Box Musix 1023
Francis James Brown (26/10/1925 - 18/01/2008), known to his friends as Jim and whose doughty Scottish ancestors were amongst the first to emigrate to the New World in the seventeenth century and settle in virtually uninhabited Iowa Territory, was born in Rochester, New York on 26 October 1925 to a mother with an artistic flair. His father was a professor of Sociology who worked in the Truman Administration and was the first American educationalist to be sent to the Soviet Union after the Second World War. Brown was a piano and composition graduate of Eastman School of Music and in 1951 earned a scholarship to study composition under Luigi Dallapiccola at Tanglewood. In 1952 he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to continue his studies with Dallapiccola in Florence, where he met Stanley Seeger, with whom he was to collaborate on many musical works, including the score of the feature film ‘Priest of Love‘ directed in 1980 by Christopher Miles and starring Ian McKellen as DH Lawrence and Janet Suzman as Frieda. Writing as Joseph James ( Seeger’s middle name was Joseph) this was a triumphant collaboration.
Requiem after J.S. Bach
Period:Modernism
Composed in:1997
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:ca.56'
Label(s):Black Box Music 1023
This requiem has been composed by Stanley Joseph Seeger and Francis James Brown and is a choral setting of the requiem mass to the instrumental keyboard music of Bach. It ranges from fairly direct transcriptions of fugues to freer transformations of Bach's music. The result is a beautiful and fitting tribute to Bach with soloists, choir and orchestra.
This requiem belongs to the rich tradition of works based on the music of Johann Sebastiaan Bach, but it breaks with that tradition both in its form and technique of composition. It is a full setting of a requiem mass (using the text set by Tomás Luis de Victoria in his Officium Defunctorum of 1605), and each of its parts is a vocal movement based on one of Bach's keyboard pieces - in some cases, particularly in the fugues, a fairly direct transcription, in others a more complex transformation using both the harmonic progressions and the figuration of the original in a quite new context.
Author:David Dalle and Michael Raeburn
Requiem after J.S. Bach. This disc (BBM 1023) puts a whole new spin on the idea of transcription, in several senses. For one thing, "Joseph James" is an enharmonic juxtapositioning of two unrelated musical ideas - the composers Stanley Joseph Seeger and Francis James Brown. And then, the requiem itself is composed of orchestral and vocal transcriptions - some more free than others, but all honoring the style of the original music - of keyboard works by J.S. Bach. The whole emerges as a very convincing mass which just might be by Bach, maybe with politically incorrect (by modern purist standards) editorial amendments to the harmony and orchestration by some Stokowskian romantic non-academic performer. Much more than a parody, a most appealing oddity, and a fine piece of music.
Source:www.recordsinternational.com