Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why am I called "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...

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, Norman Parkinson photo, 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 denisebrain.com, 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've worn these horn earrings forever, Jim Hendrickson photo, 1991

(I made them out of Christmas ornaments)

50s modern horn print skirt

70s horn photo print dress
Some—not all—of my horn pins

50s Vera scarf
60s instrument-print shirtwaist dress, and my most beautiful accessory
My latest fave is this vintage copper bracelet and earrings set from my friend Susan

One last shot, because I love it so: The Quintessential Brass at Indiana University in about 1981. I think we called it the Maggie and the Spit Valves shot. That is about when I started signing into a practice building as Denise Brain, so I guess this is origin story material!

David Coleman, John Wilds (my brother), David Ford, Norlan Bewley and {ahem} Denise Brain.

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