STEPHEN BRYANT-Leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra-The Official Blog!








Stephen Bryant’s Cadenza to Khachaturian Violin Concerto


In 2010, I recorded the Khachaturian Violin Concerto with Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra for broadcast on Radio 3.There is of course,already an excellent cadenza by David Oistrakh for this concerto but I wanted to try my hand at composing one myself……


Hollywood and Stephen Bryant


Tristan and Isolde Fantasy – by Franz Waxman

Franz Waxman – The Golden Age of Hollywood

Stephen Bryant – violin/Simon Mulligan – piano/Leonard Slatkin – conductor/BBC Symphony Orchestra

With kind permission of the BBC


Strad Magazine and Stephen Bryant

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Fresh from a tour of the Far East, and with the Proms fast approaching, Stephen Bryant is a busy man. The leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBCSO), Bryant has come a long way from the young pupil who refused to use vibrato: ‘I didn’t like the way it distorted the clear tone of the violin but my teacher, Mr Piper, told me that in order to take my Grade 6 exam I would have to do it. So, reluctantly, I did.’ Despite having risen to the top of his profession, however, Bryant says: ‘I never stop and think, “I’ve made it.” I don’t think I’ve ever looked at things from that sort of angle. I’m always looking ahead to my next concert or project.’ Bryant’s desire for, or as he calls it, ‘obsession with’ clarity of sound came from hours spent listening to recordings of Heifetz, aged eleven, and it has stayed with him ever since. Indeed, clarity of sound is one of the reasons that he prizes the Pressenda he now plays: ‘The sound was the most important thing for me. My Pressenda has a clear, sweet sound with lots of natural overtones and good carrying power. The combination of the sound, its responsiveness and the feel of it under my hand makes it unique.’ It was the third violin he tried out at J.&A. Beare and he is now so comfortable with the instrument that he struggles to articulate what it’s like to play: ‘It’s so familiar and so much an extension of me that I find it impossible to describe.’ Nor does he expend much energy thinking about the people who have played the violin before and those who will play it after him: ‘Being a musician is all about the present – present practice and present performance. I don’t like the thought of anyone else playing it. It’s such a close relationship, a musician and their violin.’

Unsurprisingly, Bryant chooses the Royal Albert Hall as his favourite concert venue: ‘The building has real dramatic impact and the concerts are always exciting because of the atmosphere engendered by the knowledgeable and enthusiastic Proms audiences. The orchestra is doing eleven Proms this year, all of them broadcast and many also televised.’ But Bryant’s musical pursuits range far beyond the Proms: his forthcoming projects include a Radio 3 broadcast of the Khachaturian Violin Concerto with Martyn Brabbins and the BBCSO, and a chamber music concert including Webern’s Rondo for string quartet, Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D minor and Schumann’s Piano Quintet, broadcast from Seoul, South Korea. Bryant also gets inspiration from a more unlikely quarter: ‘Bruce Lee, the martial arts expert, has been an idol of mine for many years because, although he works in a different field, he developed himself through self-discipline, focus and drive to be the best he could possibly be.’ Bryant even confides that he has a light punch bag in his music studio: ‘I have to remember to take my boxing gloves off for the violin!’

Lizzie Davis–The Strad Magazine. 

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A life in reverse and Stephen Bryant


Cantillation for Violin and Orchestra Opus 4 – by Minna Keal

A Life in Reverse – The music of Minna Keal

Stephen Bryant – violin/ BBC Symphony Orchestra/ Nicholas Cleobury – conductor

By kind permission of Lorelt


About the Korngold Reviews



This letter, Time Out article and Strad review all relate to my performances of the Korngold Violin Concerto. In 1982, when I was at music college, a friend and myself were keen fans of Jascha Heifetz’ playing. One of my favourite recordings at that time was Heifetz playing the Korngold Violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and- having an urge to learn it- I looked about for the music. I found that it wasn’t available in this country but, as luck would have it, my friend was going to visit his father in America and picked up the music there for me. On his return he bet me £10 that I wouldn’t be able to learn it in three weeks ready for a concerto competition at the Royal College of Music.

Spurred on by the money (I was a penniless student!) I managed to learn it for the competition and later that year performed it with the RCM Symphony Orchestra. To my great surprise I was informed by the Korngold Society that this was the first British performance of the piece. It was only later that the Korngold Violin Concerto started to be played and to gain in popularity – nowadays everyone plays it – then, nobody played it! I sent a recording of the performance to George Korngold, Erich Korngold’s son, and you can see his reply. Feeling a special affinity with this concerto I then went on to perform it many more times including two broadcast performances with the BBCSO in 1994 and 1998.