Neil Brand

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Neil Brand
Neil Brand in 2004
Born (1958-03-18) 18 March 1958 (age 56)
Burgess Hill, Sussex, England
Occupation actor, dramatist, composer, author

Neil Brand (born 18 March 1958) is a British dramatist, composer and author. In addition to being regular silent film accompanist at London's National Film Theatre, Brand has composed new scores for two recently restored films from the 1920s, namely The Wrecker and Anthony Asquith's Underground. Brand has also acted and written plays for the BBC. His book, Dramatic Notes, focuses on the art of composing narrative music for the cinema, theatre, radio and television.

Background and education[edit]

He was born in Burgess Hill, Sussex, England, and attended Junction Road Primary School in Burgess Hill where he was affectionately known as "Bogey Brand". On passing his 11+ exam, he joined a small group of boys from rural areas of central Sussex making the multi-train commute past other schools in Brighton to Hove County Grammar School for Boys. He was often found entertaining other students in the school hall at lunchtime on the school's grand piano.

At the age of 18, he went to the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, to study Drama under John Edmunds. However, he had a talent for music, and it was at Aberystwyth that he began writing and playing music seriously for the first time. In 2013 he was made a Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

Television and radio[edit]

On television, he has appeared in Switch, a BBC drama for the hearing impaired, as Ted, a bullying businessman. Other work for the BBC has included musical compositions and radio plays.[1] He also composed the score for Channel Four's three-part documentary series on the Crimean War in 1997.[2] One of his plays, Stan, was broadcast as a radio-play[3] on BBC Radio 4 and then dramatised as a television-play first broadcast on BBC Four. It documents Stan Laurel's touching last moments with best friend and comedy partner Oliver Hardy, who lies bedridden after a stroke. Another play broadcast on Radio 4, in 2007 Seeing It Through, dealt with Charles Masterman and his efforts to coordinate writers and journalists for the British propaganda effort in World War I. In 2004 he appeared in Who Do You Think You Are? which investigated the musical background of soprano Lesley Garrett.

In September 2013, Neil Brand presented the BBC Four programme Sound of Cinema: The Music that Made the Movies. In the first episode in the series, he looked at the impact of classic orchestral film score via the work of European-born composers (such as Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold) and their influence on contemporary film composers such as Bernard Herrmann, Hans Zimmer and John Williams. He was also was guest presenter in the BBC Radio 3 programme Sound of Cinema: Live from the BFI presented by Sean Rafferty where he demonstrated on piano some of the intricate motifs from Franz Waxman as well as some creative and haunting melodies of his own, demonstrating his skill and dexterity as a silent film pianist.

Music for films[edit]

He has been accompanying silent films for over 17 years, regularly at the National Film Theatre on London's South Bank and throughout the UK and increasingly at film festivals and special events throughout the world. He wrote a new score for the restored 1929 film The Wrecker, released on DVD in November 2009.[4] He followed this up in 2011 with a score for another recently restored film, Anthony Asquith's 1928 drama Underground: the new composition was premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre in London.[5]

He has also written a book titled Dramatic Notes (1998) discussing the art of composing narrative music for the cinema, theatre, radio or television, and including interviews with various composers and directors.[6]


  1. ^ See, for example: BBC - Search results for Neil Brand. Retrieved 26 October 2011
  2. ^ "The Crimean War (1997) - Full cast and crew". Retrieved 24 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Stan on BBC Radio
  4. ^ Harper, Alison (25 November 2009). "1920s disaster movie restored". 1920s disaster movie restored (with video footage). BBC News. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  5. ^ 'Neil Brand’s score for Underground: a preview' (28 September 2011) Silent London, Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  6. ^ Brand, Neil; Arts Council of England (1998). 1-86020-548-8 Dramatic notes: foregrounding music in the dramatic experience. University of Luton Press. ISBN 1-86020-548-8. Retrieved 26 October 2011.

External links[edit]