Alfred Herbert Brewer was a chorister at Gloucester Cathedral and, like Whitlock, studied at the Royal College of Music. Walter Parratt, Frederick Bridge and the seemingly ubiquitous Stanford were his professors. He held posts at, amongst others, Bristol Cathedral and Tonbridge School before returning to Gloucester as Organist in 1897. In his capacity as Conductor of the Three Choirs Festival he built up a reputation as an adventurous programme planner, commissioning, for example, Herbert Howells’ first orchestral work, Sine nomine
. Elgar was a close friend and clearly held him in great respect; when, in 1901, it seemed that Brewer would have to drop his own cantata Emmaus
from the Festival programme because he did not have the time to orchestrate it, Elgar offered to do the job for him. Brewer’s Marche héroïque
proceeds with a swagger that is thoroughly Elgarian, using a bold harmonic palette and sporting a strikingly good tune for the two trio sections. Christopher Herrick played this march at the funeral service for Earl Mountbatten of Burma at Westminster Abbey in September 1979. That performance prompted the publishers to reprint it, leading to its subsequent popularity.
from notes by Stephen Westrop © 2004