Remembering Howard Leyton-Brown

By Dale Johnson Posted: January 16, 2017 3:00 p.m.

Howard Leyton-Brown was director of the Regina Conservatory of Music from 1955 to 1987.
Howard Leyton-Brown was director of the Regina Conservatory of Music from 1955 to 1987. Photo: U of R Archives and Special Collections

Howard Letyon-Brown, who was part of the U of R music community for more than 60 years and inspired many people to take up music, has died at the age of 98.

Leyton-Brown was director of the Regina Conservatory of Music from 1955 to 1987. He continued to teach after he retired, until last year.  

He was born in Australia and moved to Europe in 1937 to study violin in Belgium and Germany. But the Second World War interrupted his studies. He joined the Royal Air Force, where he was a pilot and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was also an instructor with the Commonwealth Pilot Training Program, and was stationed in Estevan, Saskatchewan, where he met his future wife, Myrl.

He continued to practice and perform the violin during his years of military service.

He often came to Regina to perform, and after an appearance at the Knox-Metropolitan Church in March 1943, the Leader-Post reported that the church “was filled to capacity Sunday night when Flt. Lt. Howard Leyton-Brown, R.A.F., Esteven, Australian violinist, presented an outstanding recital…Flt. Lt. Leyton-Brown’s popularity appears to increase with each of his appearances in Regina and Sunday night each of his program items won many enthusiastic rounds of applause.”

After the War he returned to England where he continued to study the violin in London. He earned the Licentiate of the Guildhall School of Music, receiving the highest marks ever awarded in the British Isles. He later joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 1951 was named concertmaster.

In 1952 he and his family moved to Regina, where he was head of the string department at the Regina Conservatory of Music.

HLB
Howard Leyton-Brown, in the tuxedo, with the drama production "Le Perichole" in November 1964.
Photo: U of R Archives and Special Collections

He was appointed Director of the Western Board of Music Examination system in 1953, which provided standards of music tests across western Canada, providing an alternative to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

Then in 1955 he was named director of the Conservatory. He recruited more instructors and enrolment increased from 600 in 1955-56 to over 900 in 1958-59.

In 1964, a bachelor of music degree program was introduced at Regina College, and Leyton-Brown was named the founding chair.

Leyton-Brown served on the boards of many organizations dedicated to music and the performing arts. He was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1991 and Member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 1996.

Howard Leyton-Brown was profiled recently on Global TV.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.