Howard Leyton-Brown was born in Melbourne, Australia on December 19, 1918. He studied music in Australia, Germany, and Belgium, as well as in England with Carl Lesch and Max Rostal, before pursuing a career as a violinist and orchestral player. When World War II broke out in 1939, Leyton-Brown joined the Royal Air Force, where he served as a pilot for six years, including two years as a flying instructor at the training air base in Estevan, Saskatchewan. In 1944 he was sent to England, where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service as a bomber pilot. Following the war, he attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before joining the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1948, initially as deputy concertmaster and later as concertmaster in 1951. He received his doctorate in musical arts from the University of Michigan in 1971.
Leyton-Brown immigrated to Canada in 1952, with his wife Myrl and two sons, to become head of the string department of the Regina Conservatory of Music, a position he held until his retirement in 1987. Leyton-Brown also served as the conductor of the Regina Symphony Orchestra from 1960 to 1971, and as its concertmaster from 1978 to 1989. He has appeared as a soloist with the symphony orchestras of Calgary, Lethbridge, Regina, and Saskatoon, the CBC orchestras of Winnipeg, Vancouver and Toronto, and several American orchestras. Leyton-Brown also served on the Saskatchewan Arts Board from 1967 to 1971, and on the Canada Council from 1971 to 1974.
Leyton-Brown has guest conducted various ensembles in Saskatchewan and elsewhere in Canada and the United States, and taught at the American Congress of Strings in Cincinnati in 1984 and Dallas in 1985. He conducted the South Saskatchewan Youth Orchestra during its tour of China and Japan in 1986, and has been broadcast as a soloist with orchestra and in recital on CBC radio as well as in Australia, England, Iceland and Switzerland. He has appeared on numerous TV programs, including two years of weekly chamber-music programs for CKCK TV in Regina. He has composed cadenzas to several violin concertos, has arranged works for string orchestra, and in 1980 completed Ernest Bloch’s unfinished Suite for Solo Viola. He edited Violet Archer’s Twelve Miniatures for violin and piano as well as violin works by Hallgrimur Helgason. He was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 1986, received the Lifetime Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1991, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 1996, and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.