Large studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Academy in 1991. After graduating from the University of London with doctorates in both music and philosophy, he did postgraduate work in Vienna and Prague. His interest in Czech and Slavic opera resulted in the publication of two pioneering volumes on the music of Bedřich Smetana and Bohuslav Martinů.
He joined BBC2 television as a director with responsibility for music and opera at its inception in 1965. He was appointed chief opera producer in 1970. During this period he televised:
- Burning Fiery Furnace, Idomeneo and Peter Grimes (with Pears and Britten)
- La traviata (Harwood)
- Macbeth (Johnson, Shicoff, Bailey, Ghiaurov)
- Amahl and the Night Visitors, Hänsel und Gretel (Johns, Bailey)
- Love for Three Oranges and Der Fliegende Holländer (Johns, Bailey)
In 1966 the BBC commissioned an opera for television from Benjamin Britten. In August 1970 Owen Wingrave, op.85 (libretto: Britten/Piper, based on a short story by Henry James) was completed. He directed and televised the world premiere conducted by the composer in November 1970. It was first broadcast on BBC2 on 16 May 1971.
During his time at the Corporation Large directed for Britain's Royal Opera:
- Claudio Abbado (Prokoviev's Piano Concerto No.3 with Martha Argerich)
- Daniel Barenboim (Dvořák Cello Concerto with du Pre)
- Sir John Barbirolli (Elgar symphonies and orchestral works by Delius)
- Leonard Bernstein (Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring", Shostakovich's Symphony No 5, Sibelius' Symphony No 5)
- Sir Adrian Boult (Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius with Baker, Pears and Shirley-Quirk; symphonies by Elgar and Vaughan Williams)
- Benjamin Britten (Tschaikowsky's Rococo Variations with Rostropovich; and symphonies)
- Sir Colin Davis (Shostakovich's Cello Concerti 1 & 2 with Rostropovich)
- Kirill Kondrashin (Brahms' "Double Concerto" with Oistrakh and Rostropovich)
- Igor Stravinsky (his "Firebird Ballet") and
- Sir William Walton (his Belshazar's Feast).
International networks and opera companies
- Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (twice: Kollo and Jerusalem) initiated a series that over twelve years included
- Tannhäuser (Studer, Versalle, Brendel, Sotin, Sinopoli)
- Parsifal (Jerusalem; Stein)
- Der Fliegende Holländer (Estes, Balslev, Salminen, Schunk; Nelson)
- Lohengrin (twice: Stein and Nelson)
and, perhaps, one of the most acclaimed programs in the history of classical music on television:
For the latter the Royal Television Society named him "Best Television Director" in 1981.
Since leaving the BBC in 1980, Large has continued to direct telecasts for the Royal Opera, including:
- Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Domingo, Baltsa; Prêtre)
- La bohème (Contrubas, Shicoff; Gardelli)
- Die Fledermaus (Te Kanawa, Prey; Mehta)
- Der Rosenkavalier (Te Kanawa; Solti)
- Aida (Studer; Downes)
- Don Carlo (Contrubas, Lima; Haitink)
- Falstaff (Bruson; Giulini)
- Luisa Miller (Ricciarelli, Domingo, Bruson; Maazel).
- Roméo et Juliette (Alagna; Mackerras)
- Lorin Maazel's world premiere of 1984 (Keenlyside, Damrau; Maazel)
- Otello (Te Kanawa, Domingo; Solti)
- Simon Boccanegra (Te Kanawa; Solti)
- Stiffelio and Il trovatore (Cura, Hvorostovsky; Rizzi).
Following the internationally televised Royal Opera House Gala for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, invitations came to direct performing arts programs for numerous TV networks and opera companies, including:
- Vienna State Opera
- Vienna Volksoper
- Wiener Festwochen (1995, 1996)
- Theater an der Wien
- Vienna Philharmonic concerts in Salzburg (1996, 1998–2000, 2002, 2005–2006)
- Salzburger Festspiele, opera productions (1980–2010)
- Bregenzer Festspiele where he televised La Bohème (Villazon; awarded the 2003 "Grand Prix" Golden Prague Award)
- Mozartwochen Salzburg 2006 and
- Musikverein (1989–2009).
Large directed for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra its annual New Year's Concert from 1989 to 1993; and again from 1997 to 2009; and in 2011. In Germany he has directed for ZDF from Deutsche Oper Berlin and two concerts at the Dresdner Frauenkirche with Angela Gheorghiu and Cecilia Bartoli. Brian Large televised for Bayerischer Rundfunk from Bayerische Staatsoper, Prinzregententheater and Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz and two special concerts from the Vatican honoring Pope Benedict XVI (Jansons 27 Oct. 2007 ; Thielemann) as well as the Opening Concert of the 2006 World Cup Games (Domingo, Damrau, Lang Lang; Jansons, Mehta, Thielemann).
He directed opera productions from La Scala among others Nabucco (Dimitrova, Bruson ; Muti) and from the Arena di Verona Madame Butterfly (Kabaivanska) and Tosca (Marton, Aragall). From the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Large has televised opera under the musical direction of Valery Gergiev including Pique Dame and the original "St. Petersburg" version of La forza del destino as well as ballet: Jewels (ballet) and Don Quixote. At the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris he directed The Cunning Little Vixen (Mackerras, Hytner); Alceste (von Otter; Gardiner) and Orphée (Kozena; Gardiner). From the Théatre des Champs Elysée he televised "Viva Vivaldi" with Cecilia Bartoli.
Since 1979 Large has directed over 80 opera-, recital- and gala-telecasts from the Metropolitan Opera New York with James Levine and he has televised the 1983/84 Spring Centennial Gala, the 1991 25th Anniversary Gala, the 1996 James Levine's 25th Anniversary gala, the 1998 Pavarotti's 30th Anniversary gala and the 2006 Farewell Gala to General Manager Joseph Volpe.
In the United States Large has televised operas from the:
- Los Angeles Opera
- San Francisco Opera
- Houston Grand Opera
- Lyric Opera of Chicago
- Washington National Opera and from the
- Philadelphia Opera
as well as concerts from the:
and a decade of Opening Night gala events from:
Renowned conductors and orchestras he has worked with include:
- Claudio Abbado (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; Berliner Philharmoniker)
- Daniel Barenboim (BerlinerPhilharmoniker; London Symphony Orchestra)
- Pierre Boulez (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra)
- Valery Gergiev (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; Berliner Philharmoniker)
- Bernard Haitink (Berliner Philharmoniker; London Philharmonic Orchestra)
- Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra)
- Mariss Jansons (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks)
- Carlos Kleiber (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra)
- Sir Neville Marriner (Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Dresdner Staatskapelle)
- Riccardo Muti (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; Philadelphia Orchestra)
- Seiji Ozawa (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; Boston Symphony Orchestra)
- Georges Prêtre (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; Berliner Philharmoniker)
- Sir Simon Rattle (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; Berliner Philharmoniker)
- Sir Georg Solti (Berliner Philharmoniker; Chicago Symphony Orchestra; London Philharmonic Orchestra)
Awards and honors
Large has received two primetime Emmy Awards:
- 1992 for The Metropolitan Opera Silver Anniversary Gala (Levine, 1991) (TV) at Lincoln Center for Outstanding Individual Achievement – Classical Music/ Dance Programming – Directing; and again in 1993 for the live transmission of Tosca conducted by Zubin Mehta (1992) (TV) from Rome, seen worldwide on 106 television networks, and for Outstanding Individual Achievement – Classical Music/ Dance Programming – Directing, (shared with Giuseppe Patroni Griffi (director)).
- 1986 Large received a Peabody Award for the live CBS telecast "Sunday Morning: Vladimir Horowitz" (1986) from the famed Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.
- 1981 The British Television Society recognized Large as "Best Television Director" for the Chéreau/ Boulez production of Der Ring des Nibelungen;
- 1990 for "The Three Tenors" FIFA world cup concert on 7 July 1990 from the Bath of Caracalla in Rome and again in
- 1993 for Stiffelio (Carreras) from Covent Garden ,
- further with its Judges' Award (Programme) for outstanding achievement in the field of television direction.
- 1990 The British Academy of Film and Television Arts/BAFTA recognized Large as "Best Television Director" for "The Three Tenors".
For the 'excellence of his opus of more than 600 programmes,' the 44th annual Golden Prague Festival in June, 2007 honored Large with a special tribute for his contribution to the industry, and named his 2006 Salzburg DVD of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro "Best Performing Arts Programme – Opera". In 1985 the French government named Large a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
A filmography of Large's TV opera and concert productions of more than 150 titles covering the years 1970 to 2009 is available on The Internet Movie Database IMDb / Brian Large.
- Royal Academy of Music – Who is Who
- Peter Evans in Britten's Television Opera Musical Times Publications, 112(1) Ltd., 1971, pp. 425–429 (1971)
- DG / Unitel[permanent dead link]
- BR Symphonieorchester INFO DVD Programme, Print-No. 07024B, 2007 Telepool GmbH
- Brian Large awards at IMDb.com. Accessed November 2009
- Brian Large Archived 11 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine. at Peabody Awarda, seen last: November 2009
- Brian Large at http://www.imdb.com/Sections/Awards/Royal_Television_Society_UK/1993, seen last: November 2009
- Large, Brian, Smetana, London/ Duckworth 1970; ISBN 0-7156-0512-7
- Large, Brian, Martinů, London/ Duckworth 1975; ISBN 0-7156-0770-7
- Brian Large: Martinů Bohuslav (Jan) in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie, Macmillan Publishers Limited, London 1980 (6th edition), Volume 11, pp. 731–735
- The Flying Dutchman: The Complete Text in German and English by Richard Wagner, Brian Large, Peter Butler; London / Duckworth Limited,(1975) ISBN 0-7156-0938-6
- Brian Large on IMDb, seen last: 11 November 2009