Brown studied English, Latin and music at the University of Sheffield, graduating in 1951, and took his MusB there (1952). During national service (1952-4) he studied Russian and was commissioned in the Intelligence Corps. He taught in secondary schools before becoming music librarian of the University of London, working at Senate House 1959–62. In 1962 he became a lecturer at the University of Southampton, becoming senior lecturer in 1970 and reader in 1975; he was awarded a doctorate for his book on Weelkes in 1971. His book on Mikhail Glinka was the first major study of the composer in English. This was surpassed by his four volume study of Tchaikovsky (published between 1978 and 1991), both a biography and in-depth analyses of Tchaikovsky’s works. He was also editor of the New GroveRussian Masters series. He retired as Professor of Musicology in 1989.
Mikhail Glinka: a Biographical and Critical Study (London: Oxford University Press, 1974)
Tchaikovsky: A Biographical and Critical Study: Vol. 1: “The Early Years (1840–1874)” (London: Gollancz, 1978); Vol. 2: “The Crisis Years (1874–1878)” (London: Gollancz, 1982); Vol. 3: “The Years of Wandering (1878–1885)” (London: Gollancz, 1986); Vol. 4: “The Final Years (1885–1893)” (London: Gollancz, 1991); paperback edition (2 vols) includes minor corrections and updated Work List (London: Gollancz, 1992)
Musorgsky: His Life and Works (London: Oxford University Press, 2002)
Tchaikovsky: The Man and His Music (London: Faber & Faber, 2006)