Martyn Brabbins was appointed Music Director of the English National Opera in October 2016, effective immediately. An inspirational force in British music, Brabbins has had a busy opera career since his early days at the Kirov and more recently at La Scala, the Bayerische Staatsoper, and regularly in Lyon, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Antwerp. He is a popular figure at the BBC Proms and with most of the leading British orchestras, and regularly conducts top international orchestras, returning to the Royal Concertgebouw, Tokyo Metropolitan and Deutsche Sinfonieorchester Berlin this season. Known for his advocacy of British composers, he has conducted hundreds of world premieres across the globe. He has recorded over 120 CDs to date, including prize-winning discs of operas by Korngold, Birtwistle and Harvey. He was Associate Principal Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra 1994-2005, Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic 2009-2015, Chief Conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic 2012-2016, and Artistic Director of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music 2005-2007, and has this season taken up a new position as Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music.
Brabbins is known for his affinity with music of the late 19th/early 20th centuries, to which he brings a Romantic sensibility, unerring sense of pace and an extraordinary ear for detail. He has conducted hundreds of world premieres by leading international composers, and has championed British music at home and abroad. After studying composition in London and then conducting with Ilya Musin in Leningrad, he won first prize at the 1988 Leeds Conductors' Competition. Since then he has become a frequent guest with leading orchestras across the globe,
Last season’s highlights included his Rotterdam Philharmonic debut at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and debuts with WDR Cologne and Russian National Opera, both conducting Britten War Requiem. Brabbins led a series of high-profile opera engagements including his debut at Hungarian State Opera with The Rake’s Progress, a Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky Peter Sellars double-bill with Opéra de Lyon, Tristan and Isolde at Grange Park Opera, and Andriessen’s rarely-heard La Commedia in-concert with BBC Symphony.
2016 /17 highlights include re-invitations to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and performances of A Dog’s Heart with Dutch National Opera. He returns to Royal Flemish Philharmonic for the world premiere of an Aho concerto, and concerts with the BBC Scottish include the beginning of a Tippett Symphony cycle and a concert performance of Birtwistle’s A Last Supper.
Martyn Brabbins has recorded around 120 CDs to date, his extensive discography ranges from Romantic to contemporary repertoire. He won the Gramophone Award for Birtwistle’s Mask of Orpheus with the BBC Symphony (NMC), the Cannes Opera Award for Korngold's Die Kathrin with the BBC Concert Orchestra (CPO), and the Grand Prix du Disque in the 2013 opera category for his recording of Jonathan Harvey’s Wagner Dream.
Brabbins is an inspirational force in British music, and has contributed significantly over the years, conducting almost all the major UK orchestras and appearing at the major British festivals on many occasions. He was Artistic Director of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music 2005-2007, and is currently Music Director to the Huddersfield Choral Society with whom he has had a long association – one of the many ways in which he supports both professional and amateur music-making at the highest level in the UK. He is a leading advocate of British composers across the globe, and an inspiration to young conductors in his annual course at the St Magnus Festival on Orkney. This season, Brabbins takes up a new position as Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music.
MacMillan Exsultet (version for symphonic brass)
Gubaidulina Seven Words upon the Cross
De Sabata Gethsemani (comtemplative poem)
Wagner Parsifal: Extracts
Dvorák The Noonday Witch
Lutoslawski Cello Concerto
Pärt Cantus In Memoriam Benjamin Britten
Bartók Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta
World War I:
Gurney War Elegy / Ravel Mother Goose Suite
Beamish Violin Concerto
Walton Symphony No.1 / Vaughan Williams Symphony No.3 'Pastoral'
Songs and Dances:
Mussorgsky Songs and Dances of Death (Pesni i plyaski smerti) (mezzo soprano & orchestra)
Fujikura Song cycle in a new orchestral version
Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition (orch. Ravel)
“Firsts” – including a first performance by Kalevi Aho:
Beethoven Symphony no.1
Aho Trombone Concerto
Shostakovich Symphony no.1
Sibelius En Saga
Shostakovich Symphony no.5
Rachmaninov The Miserly Knight
Dance of the Earth:
Birtwistle Earth Dances
Stravinsky Sacre de Printemps
Harvey Body Mandela / Ades Asyla / Anderson Stations of the Sun
Holst The Planets
Bartok Miraculous Mandarin suite
Bartok Piano Concerto No.1
Hindemith Trauermusik (Viola solo)
Hindemith Symphonic Metamorphosis, on theme by Weber
The Mask of Orpheus
Volo di Notte
Der Prinz von Homburg
Alice in Wonderland
Le nozze di Figaro
Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail
Les mamelles de Tiresias
Love of 3 Oranges
War & Peace
Francesca da Rimini
The Miserly Knight
A Dog’s Heart
L’enfant et les sortileges
From Morning to Midnight
Der Ferne Klang
Queen of Spades
Child of our Time (staged oratorio)
The Flying Dutchman
Die Walküre (act 1)
Also possible: Borodin, Dvořák, Glinka, Martinu, Korngold, Rimsky-Korsakoff
Praise, above all, to Martyn Brabbins. A musician’s musician, he can turn his hand with ease and perception to anything. His Tristan und Isolde was alive and agile, each act unfurling slowly towards the climax, steady, transparent, explosive.
BBC Music Magazine
Once in a while, a performance comes along that focus an understanding of a familiar work in a new way – or recaptures an insight that might have been lost. Martyn Brabbins's Enigma Variations is revelatory. Brabbins’ performance as a whole is a reminder of what a masterpiece of construction Enigma truly is….shows that ardour and subtlety can be two sides of the same complicated coin.
… Lucidly conducted. Martyn Brabbins, in charge of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, finds the natural ebb and flow in Tchaikovsky’s score and is instinctive in his support of the cast.