Bryan Free - RSNO

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balkansobranie
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2023 8:50 am
Location: Glasgow, United Kingdom

Bryan Free - RSNO

Post by balkansobranie »

I recently learned from a fellow Scottish trombonist that Bryan Free, long time 2nd Trombone of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, may have passed away a couple of years ago without any announcement or obituary. This is quite sad if true. Does anyone on here know for sure? Would be nice to write some words about him, a real gentleman and enthusiast.
balkansobranie
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2023 8:50 am
Location: Glasgow, United Kingdom

Re: Bryan Free - RSNO

Post by balkansobranie »

I have had some additional information passed on to me privately. It seems that Bryan passed away in July or August 2021 and his funeral service was held at Glasgow Crematorium, Maryhill on Saturday 14th August 2021.

Bryan held the position of 2nd Trombone (Assistant Principal) with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for (I think) at least around 30 years or so. He also taught Trombone at Napier University in Edinburgh for many years, and was known to be a very good and patient teacher. He taught me for 2 years and I really enjoyed studying with him. He also fixed a lot of orchestras for amateur choirs etc in the West of Scotland, and was a keen big band player.

I recall him telling me that he played in a miltary band for national service here in the UK and after that had a spell playing in the band of a travelling circus.

He was also a great musical enthusiast and detective, and did a lot of work to recover the "lost" Shilkret Trombone Concerto - more on that here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trombone_ ... (Shilkret).

RIP Bryan Free - a fine trombone player and teacher.
1969 Conn 88H Elkhart Tenor Trombone used with Marcinkiewicz model ET1 Byron Peebles Mouthpiece.

Martin "Urbie Green" Medium Bore Tenor Trombone used with Marcinkiewicz Mouthpiece model 8.
twombone
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Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2023 6:45 am

Re: Bryan Free - RSNO

Post by twombone »

Thank you for posting about this - I didn't know he had died. I had lessons from Bryan Free for about three years in the 1980s - I progressed a lot in that time and he was very supportive with my playing and in general. I also massively enjoyed numerous SNO concerts of that time, when Neeme Jarvi was new to the orchestra and the brass section included Hugh Seenan, John Gracie, Lance Green, and Bob Hughes. Bryan was also a great source of good orchestral tales and anecdotes, from his time in the army and of course the many years in the SNO, with their musicians, on tours, conductors, etc. He also created many opportunities for work/experience via the orchestral fixing he did for choral societies around Scotland, and he had a great enthusiasm for jazz. He introduced me to the recordings of Carl Fontana, Bill Watrous, Frank Rosolino, (and Bobby Knight's Great American Trombone Company..!)- as well as those of Alan Raph, Branimir Slokar, and others.
I think Bryan would have been 80 when he passed away. RIP - and belated respects to his wife, daughter and son.
Last edited by twombone on Mon Nov 27, 2023 9:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
balkansobranie
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2023 8:50 am
Location: Glasgow, United Kingdom

Re: Bryan Free - RSNO

Post by balkansobranie »

Nice to hear your experience of Bryan, as you say, as a teacher he was really encouraging. He definitely had some great tales to tell.

It turns out he passed away due to lung cancer. I don't think he was a smoker though.

Small world - My mum used to take me to the SNO concerts at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh every Friday night during the season from the mid 1980's until the early 1990's. We used to sit in the cheap seats in the front row of the organ gallery behind the Trombone section (although I wasn't a pupil of Bryan at that point), so I remember the lineup you decribe well - great section with the legendary Bob Hughes in it, we missed his sound when he left for the Philarmonia in 1989. The beauty of those seats were that from where I sat you could read the trombone parts over their shoulders!

My wife is good friends with John Gracie's daughter funnily enough - a total coincidence as neither of them are musicians. He is still fit and well, and playing and teaching.
1969 Conn 88H Elkhart Tenor Trombone used with Marcinkiewicz model ET1 Byron Peebles Mouthpiece.

Martin "Urbie Green" Medium Bore Tenor Trombone used with Marcinkiewicz Mouthpiece model 8.
twombone
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Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2023 6:45 am

Re: Bryan Free - RSNO

Post by twombone »

Thanks for the further info and memories.

I made an enquiry with RSNO admin and received this back:

"Details of Bryan's death were shared around the orchestra in case any members had not heard of his passing. I believe that there was a sizable contingent from the RSNO at his memorial in August 2021.

We also have an occasional newsletter which is sent to former members of the Orchestra and we would have included details of Bryan's passing in this publication too."
tedthetrumpet
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2022 1:15 pm

Re: Bryan Free - RSNO

Post by tedthetrumpet »

Bryan was a character. He auditioned me (on trumpet) at Napier. Like a lot of brass players, he was mad for high notes. During the warm-up for my audition, I was messing about taking the Haydn up an octave: I've always wondered if Bryan overheard that and thought I had potential!

He had lots of great anecdotes, like the one about the trombone he had stolen. Apparently, the thieves thought it was solid gold and tried to melt it down! The story is that he got it back from the police in that state and sent it to the Conn museum, or something. Also some anecdotes about another well-known Scottish trombonist that… I won't repeat here!
blast
Posts: 476
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:46 am

Re: Bryan Free - RSNO

Post by blast »

I know who that other trombonist was. The stories were all true !!! Brian spent a lot of time with him in his final weeks and months...he had huge respect for him, and rightly so. That man, who I will not name, was one of the greats.
MJFreets
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Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 6:42 am

Re: Bryan Free - RSNO

Post by MJFreets »

I was once booked for a big band gig, thinking I was being asked to play bass trombone. I knew Bryan Free played in the band, and was excited to meet this member of the legendary RSNO section I had listened to so often.

When I turned up Bryan was sitting there holding his bass trombone. I apologised for the misunderstanding and offered to play 3rd. He insisted that I play bass, arguing that given I was using a 1.5G and he a 2G, it just didn't make sense the other way around.

He was very welcoming (despite the fact that I had just stolen his part!) and I was impressed by his incredible enthusiasm for music and the trombone. It's sad to hear that he has passed away and nice to seem him being remembered here.
balkansobranie
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2023 8:50 am
Location: Glasgow, United Kingdom

Re: Bryan Free - RSNO

Post by balkansobranie »

tedthetrumpet wrote: Sat Jan 06, 2024 2:46 pm Also some anecdotes about another well-known Scottish trombonist that… I won't repeat here!
Bryan told me one particularly outrageous story about a certain trombonist involving a group of school children, a photographer from the Glasgow Evening Times, and a deliberate wardrobe "malfunction". He even had a copy of the photo (a magnifying glass was needed to see the nature of the "malfunction"!) - sadly it isn't in any online archive I can find, it probably dated from around 1992.
1969 Conn 88H Elkhart Tenor Trombone used with Marcinkiewicz model ET1 Byron Peebles Mouthpiece.

Martin "Urbie Green" Medium Bore Tenor Trombone used with Marcinkiewicz Mouthpiece model 8.
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