A tribute to David Braynard

Volume 123, No. 8September, 2023

David Braynard (in sunglasses) with his nieces and parents, in front of Lincoln Center, circa 2001.

David Braynard, 72, a member of Local 802 since 1970, died on June 8, 2023. David was best known for his work on tuba but also played bass (both electric and acoustic) as well as guitar. David worked for top ensembles in NYC, including the American Ballet Theatre (where he served as principal tuba), MET Orchestra (as a sub/associate), NYC Opera Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Opera Orchestra of New York, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Riverside Symphony, Queens Symphony, Parnassus Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, Apple Brass Quintet, the “New York Yankees Dixieland Band,” and others.

As a young man, David fell in love with the tuba, which he started playing in fourth grade. In high school, he performed in band, orchestra, musical theatre, the All State Orchestra and in local drum and bugle bands. He successfully auditioned to get into the Manhattan School of Music, where his teachers included Bill Barber, Toby Hanks and Herbert Wekselblatt.

In addition to his work in classical orchestras and ensembles, David’s career was known for its variety. He played tuba on Sinead O’Connor’s 1992 album “Am I Not Your Girl,” which included strings and orchestral instruments. He played on jingles and recorded other studio projects. He played in the 1980 Broadway musical “Barnum.” He was a musical director on cruise ships. He even played on “Saturday Night Live” at least once (either as part of a sketch or perhaps backing a musical guest; the details are lost to memory).

David admired the composer Charles Wuorinen; in fact, David commissioned Wuorinen’s “Trio for Brass Instruments” (1981). He recorded other works by Wuorinen and performed Wuorinen’s “Prelude to Kullervo” for tuba and orchestra with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra and Rutgers Symphony.

David also collaborated on Stravinsky recordings conducted by Robert Craft.

As a composer, David loved to write songs. He wrote music for a production of “Alice in Wonderland” for the Manhattan Theatre Company. He also served on the faculty of Brooklyn College and Columbia University.

“David was a great colleague and also had an acute sense of business,” said Local 802 member Steve Johns, a fellow tubist. “He is remembered for having a beautiful and singular sound on the tuba. He will be missed.”

David’s sister Noelle Braynard remembers how her brother’s love of music was forged in their childhood. “We had an unusually music-oriented household,” Noelle told Allegro. “My parents were opera fans and I couldn’t stop listening to ‘Swan Lake,’ ‘Firebird,’ ‘Rite of Spring,’ ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and any and all musicals. As a child, David soaked in every sound, word, and gesture of Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Young People’s Concerts’ in NYC. We went to many of these concerts – maybe all of them! David was talented and focused. He had music running his veins.”

Noelle added, “Christmas and birthday presents for David were so easy: just get him a jazz record I never heard of or a book on some jazz artist I never heard of. He was always so happy to open presents because we all did the same, having no idea what else to get him! He had a broad and passionate love of music, including classical, jazz, opera, and pop. Some of his favorite composers were Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Copeland, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk.”

Besides his sister, David is survived by his nieces Isabelle and Marguerite, many loving cousins, and close friend Chuck Patrick.

Some of the information in this article came from David Braynard’s profile on Naxos.