Leo Bensemann

New Zealander, b.1912, d.1986

Gordon Bryan

  • Presented to the Gallery by Mary Bensemann, 1995
  • Ink
  • 96/27

Gordon Bryan (1895-1957) was a British pianist, arranger and composer. As a music examiner he made regular visits to New Zealand, often presenting piano recitals as well.

His obituary in The Times (22 November 1957, page 15) describes his decision not to pursue an orthodox performance career, but to concentrate instead on examining, as stemming from his love of travel. His examining tours took him to New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Canada, India and Scandinavia.

Bensemann's friend Lawrence Baigent described a recital he gave in Christchurch in these terms: "Mr Bryan bluffed the newspapers into accepting him at his own valuation - which meant that he was pronounced a "master-pianist," whilst one Wellington paper went so far as to say of him "He is probably the greatest pianist we have yet heard." The truth of the matter is that Mr. Bryan was a poor pianist and no musician, but he was clever enough to pull the wool over the eyes of journalist and concert-goer alike (no difficult task, that!) by playing music with which neither was familiar and by chatting amiably between numbers. Gordon Bryan is the perfect pianist of the drawing-room - the "artist" who delights Women's Clubs with his arch drollery. Small wonder, then, that New Zealand welcomed him!"

(Canterbury College Review, 1932, page 19)

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Notes
Gordon Bryan by Leo Bensemann

Gordon Bryan by Leo Bensemann

This article first appeared as 'Pricking the performer's pompous pose' in The Press on 11 April 2014.