Wednesday, September 4, 2013

FAQ extraordinaire: Why “denisebrain”

This is really the FAQ I most receive: Why the heck are you called denisebrain? I feel I should post an explanation about once a year and it has been over a year now, so here goes. Besides, I have a few new images to share.

My name isn’t Denise Brain, but it has been a bit of a nickname for me. I am a professional horn player and teacher, and Dennis Brain is one of the greatest horn heroes any horn player could ever have. Tragically, the Englishman was only 36 when he suffered a fatal crash in his sports car in 1957. He had already become arguably the greatest hornist of modern times.

Dennis Brain by Norman Parkinson, 1953

In 1999, when I was first prompted to provide a user name on eBay, I was helping a student bid on horns and my first thought was the nickname denisebrain.

From eBay, to Etsy, to my own website called, I have had no competition for the use of this name! I don’t use the name denisebrain flippantly—I feel the utmost respect and awe for the inimitable musician who inspired it. 

It isn’t always easy for others to understand my love for both vintage clothing and the horn, but I have a simple premise that ties these in my mind: I am attracted to beauty. I love the quality and beauty of vintage clothing and I consider the horn capable of the most beautiful sounds in music.

Tying these together further for me, I am growing a small collection of vintage clothing and accessories featuring horns of all types and eras (other than the all-too numerous Ugly Christmas Sweaters with horns that is!) and here are some:

I made these earrings out of Christmas ornaments

I’ve worn the earrings for many a concert over the years (Jim Hendrickson photo)
50s modern print circle skirt
50s instrument print dress...and my most beautiful accessory
50s Vera scarf
70s photo print dress

Some, not all, of my vintage horn pins!

My latest horn print comes from my good friend Anna Newman (who does the most interesting collection of things: R & D at DreamWorks, independent film producer, vintage clothing maven and horn player).

This dress has the Serbin label and dates from the 1980s. It didn’t have its front buttons, but who needs them when you have so many horn pins! 

If you ever see a vintage horn print item, I’d be very grateful if you’d let me know about it!

By the way, guess who else played horn? 

Debbie Reynolds playing French horn by Allan Grant


Anonymous said...

Interesting! I was wondering about your name, and I didn't know about the horns. But I knew you had the Neatest Smile!

denisebrain said...

Hey Val, that "Neatest Smile" award trumps just about everything...I was a disaster in Phys Ed of all kinds, but I smiled anyway so they gave me that "medal."

Strong teeth help horn playing. Smiling helps everything.

Anonymous said...

I love hearing about people's nicknames and where they came from.

I love all your vintage horn pieces. You look so adorable.