Benjamin Britten Language Watch Edit Britten redirects here For other uses see Britten disambiguation Ben Britten redirects here For the British scientist see Ben Britton Edward Benjamin Britten Baron Britten OM CH 22 November 1913 4 December 1976 was an English composer conductor and pianist He was a central figure of 20th century British music with a range of works including opera other vocal music orchestral and chamber pieces His best known works include the opera Peter Grimes 1945 the War Requiem 1962 and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person s Guide to the Orchestra 1945 Britten in the mid 1960s by Hans Wild Born in Lowestoft Suffolk the son of a dentist Britten showed talent from an early age He studied at the Royal College of Music in London and privately with the composer Frank Bridge Britten first came to public attention with the a cappella choral work A Boy was Born in 1934 With the premiere of Peter Grimes in 1945 he leapt to international fame Over the next 28 years he wrote 14 more operas establishing himself as one of the leading 20th century composers in the genre In addition to large scale operas for Sadler s Wells and Covent Garden he wrote chamber operas for small forces suitable for performance in venues of modest size Among the best known of these is The Turn of the Screw 1954 Recurring themes in his operas include the struggle of an outsider against a hostile society and the corruption of innocence Britten s other works range from orchestral to choral solo vocal chamber and instrumental as well as film music He took a great interest in writing music for children and amateur performers including the opera Noye s Fludde a Missa Brevis and the song collection Friday Afternoons He often composed with particular performers in mind His most frequent and important muse was his personal and professional partner the tenor Peter Pears others included Kathleen Ferrier Jennifer Vyvyan Janet Baker Dennis Brain Julian Bream Dietrich Fischer Dieskau Osian Ellis and Mstislav Rostropovich Britten was a celebrated pianist and conductor performing many of his own works in concert and on record He also performed and recorded works by others such as Bach s Brandenburg Concertos Mozart symphonies and song cycles by Schubert and Schumann Together with Pears and the librettist and producer Eric Crozier Britten founded the annual Aldeburgh Festival in 1948 and he was responsible for the creation of Snape Maltings concert hall in 1967 In his last year he was the first composer to be given a life peerage Contents 1 Life and career 1 1 Early years 1 2 Education 1 2 1 Lowestoft 1 2 2 Public school and Royal College of Music 1 3 Early professional life 1 4 America 1939 42 1 5 Return to England 1 6 Aldeburgh the 1950s 1 7 1960s 1 8 Last years 2 Personal life and character 2 1 Controversies 2 1 1 Boys 2 1 2 Cause of death 3 Music 3 1 Influences 3 2 Operas 3 3 Song cycles 3 4 Other vocal works 3 5 Orchestral works 3 6 Chamber and instrumental works 3 7 Legacy 4 Pianist and conductor 5 Recordings 6 Honours awards and commemorations 6 1 Centenary 7 Notes references and sources 8 External linksLife and career EditEarly years Edit Britten s birthplace in Lowestoft which was the Britten family home for over twenty years Britten was born in the fishing port of Lowestoft in Suffolk on the east coast of England on 22 November 1913 1 the feast day of Saint Cecilia 2 He was the youngest of four children of Robert Victor Britten 1877 1934 and his wife Edith Rhoda nee Hockey 1874 1937 n 1 Robert Britten s youthful ambition to become a farmer had been thwarted by lack of capital and he had instead trained as a dentist a profession he practised successfully but without pleasure While studying at Charing Cross Hospital in London he met Edith Hockey the daughter of a civil service clerk in the British Government s Home Office They were married in September 1901 at St John s Smith Square London 4 The consensus among biographers of Britten is that his father was a loving but somewhat stern and remote parent 5 Britten according to his sister Beth got on well with him and shared his wry sense of humour dedication to work and capacity for taking pains 6 Edith Britten was a talented amateur musician and secretary of the Lowestoft Musical Society 7 In the English provinces of the early 20th century distinctions of social class were taken very seriously Britten described his family as very ordinary middle class but there were aspects of the Brittens that were not ordinary Edith s father was illegitimate and her mother was an alcoholic Robert Britten was an agnostic and refused to attend church on Sundays 8 Music was the principal means by which Edith Britten strove to maintain the family s social standing inviting the pillars of the local community to musical soirees at the house 9 When Britten was three months old he contracted pneumonia and nearly died 10 The illness left him with a damaged heart 11 and doctors warned his parents that he would probably never be able to lead a normal life 12 He recovered more fully than expected and as a boy was a keen tennis player and cricketer 13 To his mother s great delight he was an outstandingly musical child unlike his sisters who inherited their father s indifference to music while his brother though musically talented was interested only in ragtime 14 Edith gave the young Britten his first lessons in piano and notation He made his first attempts at composition when he was five 15 He started piano lessons when he was seven years old and three years later began to play the viola 16 He was one of the last composers brought up on exclusively live music his father refused to have a gramophone or later a radio in the house 9 Education Edit Lowestoft Edit When he was seven Britten was sent to a dame school run by the Misses Astle The younger sister Ethel gave him piano lessons in later life he said that he remained grateful for the excellence of her teaching 17 The following year he moved on to a prep school South Lodge Lowestoft as a day boy 18 The headmaster Thomas Sewell was an old fashioned disciplinarian the young Britten was outraged at the severe corporal punishments frequently handed out and later he said that his lifelong pacifism probably had its roots in his reaction to the regime at the school 19 He himself rarely fell foul of Sewell a mathematician in which subject Britten was a star pupil The school had no musical tradition and Britten continued to study the piano with Ethel Astle From the age of ten he took viola lessons from a friend of his mother Audrey Alston who had been a professional player before her marriage 20 In his spare time he composed prolifically When his Simple Symphony based on these juvenilia was recorded in 1956 Britten wrote this pen portrait of his young self for the sleeve note Once upon a time there was a prep school boy He was quite an ordinary little boy he loved cricket only quite liked football although he kicked a pretty corner he adored mathematics got on all right with history was scared by Latin Unseen he behaved fairly well only ragged the recognised amount so that his contacts with the cane or the slipper were happily rare although one nocturnal expedition to stalk ghosts left its marks behind he worked his way up the school slowly and steadily until at the age of thirteen he reached that pinnacle of importance and grandeur never to be quite equalled in later days the head of the Sixth head prefect and Victor Ludorum But there was one curious thing about this boy he wrote music His friends bore with it his enemies kicked a bit but not for long he was quite tough the staff couldn t object if his work and games didn t suffer He wrote lots of it reams and reams of it 21 Frank Bridge Britten s teacher Audrey Alston encouraged Britten to go to symphony concerts in Norwich At one of these during the triennial Norfolk and Norwich Festival in October 1924 he heard Frank Bridge s orchestral poem The Sea conducted by the composer It was the first substantial piece of modern music he had ever encountered and he was in his own phrase knocked sideways by it 22 23 Audrey Alston was a friend of Bridge when he returned to Norwich for the next festival in 1927 she brought her not quite 14 year old pupil to meet him Bridge was impressed with the boy and after they had gone through some of Britten s compositions together he invited him to come to London to take lessons from him 24 Robert Britten supported by Thomas Sewell doubted the wisdom of pursuing a composing career a compromise was agreed by which Britten would as planned go on to his public school the following year but would make regular day trips to London to study composition with Bridge and piano with his colleague Harold Samuel 25 Bridge impressed on Britten the importance of scrupulous attention to the technical craft of composing n 2 and the maxim that you should find yourself and be true to what you found 27 The earliest substantial works Britten composed while studying with Bridge are the String Quartet in F completed in April 1928 and the Quatre Chansons Francaises a song cycle for high voice and orchestra Authorities differ on the extent of Bridge s influence on his pupil s technique Humphrey Carpenter and Michael Oliver judge that Britten s abilities as an orchestrator were essentially self taught 28 Donald Mitchell considers that Bridge had an important influence on the cycle 27 Public school and Royal College of Music Edit Early influences clockwise from top left Mahler Ireland Shostakovich Stravinsky In September 1928 Britten went as a boarder to Gresham s School in Holt Norfolk At the time he felt unhappy there even writing in his diary of contemplating suicide or running away 29 he hated being separated from his family most particularly from his mother he despised the music master and he was shocked at the prevalence of bullying though he was not the target of it 30 n 3 He remained there for two years and in 1930 he won a composition scholarship at the Royal College of Music RCM in London his examiners were the composers John Ireland and Ralph Vaughan Williams and the college s harmony and counterpoint teacher S P Waddington 32 Britten was at the RCM from 1930 to 1933 studying composition with Ireland and piano with Arthur Benjamin He won the Sullivan Prize for composition the Cobbett Prize for chamber music and was twice winner of the Ernest Farrar Prize for composition 33 Despite these honours he was not greatly impressed by the establishment he found his fellow students amateurish and folksy and the staff inclined to suspect technical brilliance of being superficial and insincere 34 n 4 Another Ireland pupil the composer Humphrey Searle said that Ireland could be an inspiring teacher to those on his own wavelength Britten was not and learned little from him 36 He continued to study privately with Bridge although he later praised Ireland for nurs ing me very gently through a very very difficult musical adolescence 37 Britten also used his time in London to attend concerts and become better acquainted with the music of Stravinsky Shostakovich and most particularly Mahler n 5 He intended postgraduate study in Vienna with Alban Berg Arnold Schoenberg s student but was eventually dissuaded by his parents on the advice of the RCM staff 39 The first of Britten s compositions to attract wide attention were composed while at the RCM the Sinfonietta Op 1 1932 the oboe quartet Phantasy Op 2 dedicated to Leon Goossens who played the first performance in a BBC broadcast on 6 August 1933 and a set of choral variations A Boy was Born written in 1933 for the BBC Singers who first performed it the following year 40 In this same period he wrote Friday Afternoons a collection of 12 songs for the pupils of Clive House School Prestatyn where his brother was headmaster 41 Early professional life Edit In February 1935 at Bridge s instigation Britten was invited to a job interview by the BBC s director of music Adrian Boult and his assistant Edward Clark 42 Britten was not enthusiastic about the prospect of working full time in the BBC music department and was relieved when what came out of the interview was an invitation to write the score for a documentary film The King s Stamp directed by Alberto Cavalcanti for the GPO Film Unit 43 W H Auden in 1939 Britten became a member of the film unit s small group of regular contributors another of whom was W H Auden Together they worked on the documentary films Coal Face and Night Mail in 1935 44 They also collaborated on the song cycle Our Hunting Fathers 1936 radical both in politics and musical treatment and subsequently other works including Cabaret Songs On This Island Paul Bunyan and Hymn to St Cecilia 45 Auden was a considerable influence on Britten encouraging him to widen his aesthetic intellectual and political horizons and also to come to terms with his homosexuality Auden was as David Matthews puts it cheerfully and guiltlessly promiscuous Britten puritanical and conventional by nature was sexually repressed 46 In the three years from 1935 to 1937 Britten wrote nearly 40 scores for the theatre cinema and radio 47 Among the film music of the late 1930s Matthews singles out Night Mail and Love from a Stranger 1937 from the theatre music he selects for mention The Ascent of F6 1936 On the Frontier 1938 and Johnson Over Jordan 1939 and of the music for radio King Arthur 1937 and The Sword in the Stone 1939 48 In 1937 there were two events of huge importance in Britten s life his mother died and he met the tenor Peter Pears Although Britten was extraordinarily devoted to his mother and was devastated at her death it also seems to have been something of a liberation for him 49 Only after that did he begin to engage in emotional relationships with people his own age or younger 50 Later in the year he got to know Pears while they were both helping to clear out the country cottage of a mutual friend who had died in an air crash 51 Pears quickly became Britten s musical inspiration and close though for the moment platonic friend Britten s first work for him was composed within weeks of their meeting a setting of Emily Bronte s poem A thousand gleaming fires for tenor and strings 52 During 1937 Britten composed a Pacifist March to words by Ronald Duncan for the Peace Pledge Union of which as a pacifist he had become an active member the work was not a success and was soon withdrawn 53 The best known of his compositions from this period is probably Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge for string orchestra described by Matthews as the first of Britten s works to become a popular classic 54 It was a success in North America with performances in Toronto New York Boston Chicago and San Francisco under conductors including John Barbirolli and Serge Koussevitzky 55 America 1939 42 Edit In April 1939 Britten and Pears sailed to North America going first to Canada and then to New York They had several reasons for leaving England including the difficult position of pacifists in an increasingly bellicose Europe the success that Frank Bridge had enjoyed in the US the departure of Auden and his friend Christopher Isherwood to the US from England three months previously hostile or belittling reviews of Britten s music in the English press and under rehearsed and inadequate performances 27 56 Britten and Pears consummated their relationship and from then until Britten s death they were partners in both their professional and personal lives 57 When the Second World War began Britten and Pears turned for advice to the British embassy in Washington and were told that they should remain in the US as artistic ambassadors 55 Pears was inclined to disregard the advice and go back to England Britten also felt the urge to return but accepted the embassy s counsel and persuaded Pears to do the same 58 Already a friend of the composer Aaron Copland Britten encountered his latest works Billy the Kid and An Outdoor Overture both of which influenced his own music 59 In 1940 Britten composed Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo the first of many song cycles for Pears 60 Britten s orchestral works from this period include the Violin Concerto and Sinfonia da Requiem In 1941 Britten produced his first music drama Paul Bunyan an operetta to a libretto by Auden 56 While in the US Britten had his first encounter with Balinese gamelan music through transcriptions for piano duo made by the Canadian composer Colin McPhee The two met in the summer of 1939 and subsequently performed a number of McPhee s transcriptions for a recording 61 This musical encounter bore fruit in several Balinese inspired works later in Britten s career 62 Moving to the US did not relieve Britten of the nuisance of hostile criticism although Olin Downes the doyen of New York music critics and Irving Kolodin took to Britten s music Virgil Thomson was as the music scholar Suzanne Robinson puts it consistently severe and spiteful Thomson described Les Illuminations 1940 as little more than a series of bromidic and facile effects pretentious banal and utterly disappointing and was equally unflattering about Pears s voice Robinson surmises that Thomson was motivated by a mixture of spite national pride and professional jealousy 55 Paul Bunyan met with wholesale critical disapproval 63 and the Sinfonia da Requiem already rejected by its Japanese sponsors because of its overtly Christian nature received a mixed reception when Barbirolli and the New York Philharmonic premiered it in March 1941 The reputation of the work was much enhanced when Koussevitzky took it up shortly afterwards 64 Return to England Edit Page from Peter Grimes in 1812 edition of Crabbe s The Borough In 1942 Britten read the work of the poet George Crabbe for the first time 65 The Borough set on the Suffolk coast close to Britten s homeland awakened in him such longings for England that he knew he must return He also knew that he must write an opera based on Crabbe s poem about the fisherman Peter Grimes 55 Before Britten left the US Koussevitzky always generous in encouraging new talent offered him a 1 000 commission to write the opera 55 n 6 Britten and Pears returned to England in April 1942 During the long transatlantic sea crossing Britten completed the choral works A Ceremony of Carols and Hymn to St Cecilia The latter was his last large scale collaboration with Auden Britten had grown away from him and Auden became one of the composer s so called corpses former intimates from whom he completely cut off contact once they had outlived their usefulness to him or offended him in some way 68 Having arrived in Britain Britten and Pears applied for recognition as conscientious objectors Britten was initially allowed only non combatant service in the military but on appeal he gained unconditional exemption 69 After the death of his mother in 1937 he had used money she bequeathed him to buy the Old Mill in Snape Suffolk which became his country home He spent much of his time there in 1944 working on the opera Peter Grimes Pears joined Sadler s Wells Opera Company whose artistic director the singer Joan Cross announced her intention to re open the company s home base in London with Britten s opera casting herself and Pears in the leading roles n 7 There were complaints from company members about supposed favouritism and the cacophony of Britten s score as well as some ill suppressed homophobic remarks 71 Peter Grimes opened in June 1945 and was hailed by public and critics 72 its box office takings matched or exceeded those for La boheme and Madame Butterfly which were staged during the same season 73 The opera administrator Lord Harewood called it the first genuinely successful British opera Gilbert and Sullivan apart since Purcell 74 Dismayed by the in fighting among the company Cross Britten and Pears severed their ties with Sadler s Wells in December 1945 going on to found what was to become the English Opera Group 75 A month after the opening of Peter Grimes Britten and Yehudi Menuhin went to Germany to give recitals to concentration camp survivors 76 What they saw at Belsen most of all so shocked Britten that he refused to talk about it until towards the end of his life when he told Pears that it had coloured everything he had written since 77 Colin Matthews comments that the next two works Britten composed after his return the song cycle The Holy Sonnets of John Donne and the Second String Quartet contrast strongly with earlier lighter hearted works such as Les Illuminations 78 Britten recovered his joie de vivre for The Young Person s Guide to the Orchestra 1945 written for an educational film Instruments of the Orchestra directed by Muir Mathieson and featuring the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Malcolm Sargent 79 It became and remained his most often played and popular work 80 Britten s next opera The Rape of Lucretia was presented at the first post war Glyndebourne Festival in 1946 It was then taken on tour to provincial cities under the banner of the Glyndebourne English Opera Company an uneasy alliance of Britten and his associates with John Christie the autocratic proprietor of Glyndebourne 81 The tour lost money heavily and Christie announced that he would underwrite no more tours 82 Britten and his associates set up the English Opera Group the librettist Eric Crozier and the designer John Piper joined Britten as artistic directors The group s express purpose was to produce and commission new English operas and other works presenting them throughout the country 83 Britten wrote the comic opera Albert Herring for the group in 1947 while on tour in the new work Pears came up with the idea of mounting a festival in the small Suffolk seaside town of Aldeburgh where Britten had moved from Snape earlier in the year and which became his principal place of residence for the rest of his life 84 Aldeburgh the 1950s Edit The Aldeburgh Festival was launched in June 1948 with Britten Pears and Crozier directing 85 Albert Herring played at the Jubilee Hall and Britten s new cantata for tenor chorus and orchestra Saint Nicolas was presented in the parish church 86 The festival was an immediate success and became an annual event that has continued into the 21st century 87 New works by Britten featured in almost every festival until his death in 1976 including the premieres of his operas A Midsummer Night s Dream at the Jubilee Hall in 1960 and Death in Venice at Snape Maltings Concert Hall in 1973 88 John Piper s Benjamin Britten memorial window in the Church of St Peter and St Paul Aldeburgh Unlike many leading English composers Britten was not known as a teacher n 8 but in 1949 he accepted his only private pupil Arthur Oldham who studied with him for three years Oldham made himself useful acting as musical assistant and arranging Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge for full orchestra for the Frederick Ashton ballet Le Reve de Leonor 1949 92 but he later described the teacher pupil relationship as beneficial five per cent to Britten and ninety five per cent to me 93 Throughout the 1950s Britten continued to write operas Billy Budd 1951 was well received at its Covent Garden premiere and was regarded by reviewers as an advance on Peter Grimes 94 Gloriana 1953 written to mark the coronation of Elizabeth II had a cool reception at the gala premiere in the presence of the Queen and the British Establishment en masse The downbeat story of Elizabeth I in her decline and Britten s score reportedly thought by members of the premiere s audience too modern for such a gala 95 did not overcome what Matthews calls the ingrained philistinism of the ruling classes 96 n 9 Although Gloriana did well at the box office there were no further productions in Britain for another 13 years 97 It was later recognised as one of Britten s finer operas 98 The Turn of the Screw the following year was an unqualified success 99 together with Peter Grimes it became and at 2013 remained one of the two most frequently performed of Britten s operas 100 In the 1950s the fervently anti homosexual Home Secretary Sir David Maxwell Fyfe 101 urged the police to enforce the Victorian laws making homosexual acts illegal 102 n 10 Britten and Pears came under scrutiny Britten was visited by police officers in 1953 and was so perturbed that he discussed with his assistant Imogen Holst the possibility that Pears might have to enter a sham marriage with whom is unclear In the end nothing was done 103 An increasingly important influence on Britten was the music of the East an interest that was fostered by a tour there with Pears in 1956 when Britten once again encountered the music of the Balinese gamelan 104 and saw for the first time Japanese Noh plays which he called some of the most wonderful drama I have ever seen 105 These eastern influences were seen and heard in the ballet The Prince of the Pagodas 1957 and later in two of the three semi operatic Parables for Church Performance Curlew River 1964 and The Prodigal Son 1968 106 1960s Edit By the 1960s the Aldeburgh Festival was outgrowing its customary venues and plans to build a new concert hall in Aldeburgh were not progressing When redundant Victorian maltings buildings in the village of Snape six miles inland became available for hire Britten realised that the largest of them could be converted into a concert hall and opera house The 830 seat Snape Maltings hall was opened by the Queen at the start of the twentieth Aldeburgh Festival on 2 June 1967 it was immediately hailed as one of the best concert halls in the country 107 The hall was destroyed by fire in 1969 but Britten was determined that it would be rebuilt in time for the following year s festival which it was The Queen again attended the opening performance in 1970 108 Mstislav Rostropovich and Britten 1964 The Maltings gave the festival a venue that could comfortably house large orchestral works and operas Britten conducted the first performance outside Russia of Shostakovich s Fourteenth Symphony at Snape in 1970 109 Shostakovich a friend since 1960 dedicated the symphony to Britten 110 he was himself the dedicatee of The Prodigal Son 111 Two other Russian musicians who were close to Britten and regularly performed at the festival were the pianist Sviatoslav Richter and the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich Britten composed his cello suites Cello Symphony and Cello Sonata for Rostropovich who premiered them at the Aldeburgh Festival 112 One of the best known of Britten s works the War Requiem was premiered in 1962 He had been asked four years earlier to write a work for the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral a modernist building designed by Basil Spence The old cathedral had been left in ruins by an air raid on the city in 1940 in which hundreds of people died 113 Britten decided that his work would commemorate the dead of both World Wars in a large scale score for soloists chorus chamber ensemble and orchestra His text interspersed the traditional Requiem Mass with poems by Wilfred Owen Matthews writes With the War Requiem Britten reached the apex of his reputation it was almost universally hailed as a masterpiece 114 Shostakovich told Rostropovich that he believed it to be the greatest work of the twentieth century 115 In 1967 the BBC commissioned Britten to write an opera specially for television Owen Wingrave was based like The Turn of the Screw on a ghost story by Henry James 56 By the 1960s Britten found composition much slower than in his prolific youth he told the 28 year old composer Nicholas Maw Get as much done now as you can because it gets much much more difficult as you grow older 116 He did not complete the score of the new opera until August 1970 56 Owen Wingrave was first broadcast in Britain in May 1971 when it was also televised in Austria Belgium Denmark France Germany Ireland the Netherlands Norway Sweden Switzerland the US and Yugoslavia 117 Last years Edit In September 1970 Britten asked Myfanwy Piper who had adapted the two Henry James stories for him to turn another prose story into a libretto This was Thomas Mann s novella Death in Venice a subject he had been considering for some time 118 At an early stage in composition Britten was told by his doctors that a heart operation was essential if he was to live for more than two years He was determined to finish the opera and worked urgently to complete it before going into hospital for surgery 119 His long term colleague Colin Graham wrote Perhaps of all his works this one went deepest into Britten s own soul there are extraordinary cross currents of affinity between himself his own state of health and mind Thomas Mann Aschenbach Mann s dying protagonist and Peter Pears who must have had to tear himself in three in order to reconstitute himself as the principal character 119 After the completion of the opera Britten went into the National Heart Hospital and was operated on in May 1973 to replace a failing heart valve The replacement was successful but he suffered a slight stroke affecting his right hand This brought his career as a performer to an end 56 While in hospital Britten became friendly with a senior nursing sister Rita Thomson she moved to Aldeburgh in 1974 and looked after him until his death 120 Britten s last works include the Suite on English Folk Tunes A Time There Was 1974 the Third String Quartet 1975 which drew on material from Death in Venice and the dramatic cantata Phaedra 1975 written for Janet Baker 121 In June 1976 the last year of his life Britten accepted a life peerage the first composer so honoured becoming Baron Britten of Aldeburgh in the County of Suffolk 122 n 11 After the 1976 Aldeburgh Festival Britten and Pears travelled to Norway where Britten began writing Praise We Great Men for voices and orchestra based on a poem by Edith Sitwell 125 He returned to Aldeburgh in August and wrote Welcome Ode for children s choir and orchestra 126 In November Britten realised that he could no longer compose 127 On his 63rd birthday 22 November at his request Rita Thomson organised a champagne party and invited his friends and his sisters Barbara and Beth to say their goodbyes to the dying composer 128 When Rostropovich made his farewell visit a few days later Britten gave him what he had written of Praise We Great Men 128 I heard of his death and took a long walk in total silence through gently falling snow across a frozen lake which corresponded exactly to the inexpressible sense of numbness at such a loss The world is colder and lonelier without the presence of our supreme creator of music Peter Maxwell Davies 1977 116 Britten died of congestive heart failure on 4 December 1976 His funeral service was held at Aldeburgh Parish Church three days later 128 and he was buried in its churchyard with a gravestone carved by Reynolds Stone 129 The authorities at Westminster Abbey had offered burial there but Britten had made it clear that he wished his grave to be side by side with that in due course of Pears 130 A memorial service was held at the Abbey on 10 March 1977 at which the congregation was headed by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother 131 Personal life and character EditDespite his large number of works on Christian themes Britten has sometimes been thought of as agnostic 132 Pears said that when they met in 1937 he was not sure whether or not Britten would have described himself as a Christian 133 In the 1960s Britten called himself a dedicated Christian though sympathetic to the radical views propounded by the Bishop of Woolwich in Honest to God 134 Politically Britten was on the left He told Pears that he always voted either Liberal or Labour and could not imagine ever voting Conservative but he was never a member of any party except the Peace Pledge Union 135 Physically Britten was never robust He walked and swam regularly and kept himself as fit as he could but Carpenter in his 1992 biography mentions 20 illnesses a few of them minor but most fairly serious suffered over the years by Britten before his final heart complaint developed 136 Emotionally according to some commentators Britten never completely grew up retaining in his outlook something of a child s view of the world 56 137 He was not always confident that he was the genius others declared him to be and though he was hypercritical of his own works he was acutely even aggressively sensitive to criticism from anybody else 138 Britten was as he acknowledged notorious for dumping friends and colleagues who either offended him or ceased to be of use his corpses 139 The conductor Sir Charles Mackerras believed that the term was invented by Lord Harewood Both Mackerras and Harewood joined the list of corpses the former for joking that the number of boys in Noye s Fludde must have been a delight to the composer and the latter for an extramarital affair and subsequent divorce from Lady Harewood which shocked the puritanical Britten 140 Among other corpses were his librettists Montagu Slater and Eric Crozier The latter said in 1949 He has sometimes told me jokingly that one day I would join the ranks of his corpses and I have always recognized that any ordinary person must soon outlive his usefulness to such a great creative artist as Ben 139 Dame Janet Baker said in 1981 I think he was quite entitled to take what he wanted from others He did not want to hurt anyone but the task in hand was more important than anything or anybody 141 Matthews feels that this aspect of Britten has been exaggerated and he observes that the composer sustained many deep friendships to the end of his life 142 Controversies Edit Boys Edit Throughout his adult life Britten had a particular rapport with children and enjoyed close friendships with several boys particularly those in their early teens n 12 The first such friendship was with Piers Dunkerley 13 years old in 1934 when Britten was aged 20 145 Other boys Britten befriended were the young David Hemmings and Michael Crawford both of whom sang treble roles in his works in the 1950s 146 Hemmings later said In all of the time that I spent with him he never abused that trust and Crawford wrote I cannot say enough about the kindness of that great man he had a wonderful patience and affinity with young people He loved music and loved youngsters caring about music 27 n 13 It was long suspected by several of Britten s close associates that there was something exceptional about his attraction to teenage boys Auden referred to Britten s attraction to thin as a board juveniles to the sexless and innocent 148 and Pears once wrote to Britten remember there are lovely things in the world still children boys sunshine the sea Mozart you and me 149 In public the matter was little discussed during Britten s lifetime and much discussed after it n 14 Carpenter s 1992 biography closely examined the evidence as do later studies of Britten most particularly John Bridcut s Britten s Children 2006 which concentrates on Britten s friendships and relationships with various children and adolescents Some commentators have continued to question Britten s conduct sometimes very sharply 151 Carpenter and Bridcut conclude that he held any sexual impulses under firm control and kept the relationships affectionate including bed sharing kissing and skinny dipping but strictly platonic 152 153 154 Britten s grave in St Peter and St Paul s Church Aldeburgh Suffolk Cause of death Edit A more recent controversy was the statement in a 2013 biography of Britten by Paul Kildea that the composer s heart failure was due to undetected syphilis which Kildea speculates was a result of Pears s promiscuity while the two were living in New York 155 In response Britten s consultant cardiologist said that like all the hospital s similar cases Britten was routinely screened for syphilis before the operation with negative results 156 He described as complete rubbish Kildea s allegation that the surgeon who operated on Britten in 1973 would or even could have covered up a syphilitic condition 157 Kildea continued to maintain When all the composer s symptoms are considered there can be only one cause 158 In The Times Richard Morrison praised the rest of Kildea s book and hoped that its reputation would not be tarnished by one sensational speculation some second hand hearsay presenting unsubstantiated gossip as fact 159 Music EditSee also List of compositions by Benjamin Britten Influences Edit Britten s early musical life was dominated by the classical masters his mother s ambition was for him to become the Fourth B after Bach Beethoven and Brahms 160 Britten was later to assert that his initial development as a composer was stifled by reverence for these masters Between the ages of thirteen and sixteen I knew every note of Beethoven and Brahms I remember receiving the full score of Fidelio for my fourteenth birthday But I think in a sense I never forgave them for having led me astray in my own particular thinking and natural inclinations 161 He developed a particular animosity towards Brahms whose piano music he had once held in great esteem in 1952 he confided that he played through all Brahms s music from time to time to see if I am right about him I usually find that I underestimated last time how bad it was 56 Through his association with Frank Bridge Britten s musical horizons expanded 24 He discovered the music of Debussy and Ravel which Matthews writes gave him a model for an orchestral sound 162 Bridge also led Britten to the music of Schoenberg and Berg the latter s death in 1935 affected Britten deeply A letter at that time reveals his thoughts on the contemporary music scene The real musicians are so few amp far between aren t they Apart from the Bergs Stravinskys Schoenbergs amp Bridges one is a bit stumped for names isn t one adding as an afterthought Shostakovitch perhaps possibly 56 By this time Britten had developed a lasting hostility towards the English Pastoral School represented by Vaughan Williams and Ireland whose work he compared unfavourably with the brilliant folk song arrangements of Percy Grainger Grainger became the inspiration of many of Britten s later folk arrangements 163 Britten was also impressed by Delius and thought Brigg Fair delicious when he heard it in 1931 164 Also in that year he heard Stravinsky s The Rite of Spring which he found bewildering and terrifying yet at the same time incredibly marvellous and arresting The same composer s Symphony of Psalms and Petrushka were lauded in similar terms 56 However he and Stravinsky later developed a mutual antipathy informed by jealousy and mistrust 165 Besides his growing attachments to the works of 20th century masters Britten along with his contemporary Michael Tippett was devoted to the English music of the late 17th and early 18th centuries in particular the work of Purcell 166 In defining his mission as a composer of opera Britten wrote One of my chief aims is to try to restore to the musical setting of the English Language a brilliance freedom and vitality that have been curiously rare since the death of Purcell 167 Among the closest of Britten s kindred composer spirits even more so than Purcell was Mahler whose Fourth Symphony Britten heard in September 1930 At that time Mahler s music was little regarded and rarely played in English concert halls 168 Britten later wrote of how the scoring of this work impressed him entirely clean and transparent the material was remarkable and the melodic shapes highly original with such rhythmic and harmonic tension from beginning to end 38 He soon discovered other Mahler works in particular Das Lied von der Erde he wrote to a friend about the concluding Abschied of Das Lied It is cruel you know that music should be so beautiful 169 n 15 Apart from Mahler s general influence on Britten s compositional style the incorporation by Britten of popular tunes as for example in Death in Venice is a direct inheritance from the older composer 171 Operas Edit The Britten Pears Foundation considers the composer s operas perhaps the most substantial and important part of his compositional legacy 172 Britten s operas are firmly established in the international repertoire according to Operabase they are performed worldwide more than those of any other composer born in the 20th century 173 and only Puccini and Richard Strauss come ahead of him if the list is extended to all operas composed after 1900 174 The early operetta Paul Bunyan stands apart from Britten s later operatic works Philip Brett calls it a patronizing attempt to evoke the spirit of a nation not his own by W H Auden in which Britten was a somewhat dazzled accomplice 175 The American public liked it but the critics did not n 16 and it fell into neglect until interest revived near the end of the composer s life 56 Peter Pears as the General in Owen Wingrave 1971 Britten s subsequent operas range from large scale works written for full strength opera companies to chamber operas for performance by small touring opera ensembles or in churches and schools In the large scale category are Peter Grimes 1945 Billy Budd 1951 Gloriana 1953 A Midsummer Night s Dream 1960 and Death in Venice 1973 Of the remaining operas The Rape of Lucretia 1946 Albert Herring 1947 The Little Sweep 1949 and The Turn of the Screw 1954 were written for small opera companies Noye s Fludde 1958 Curlew River 1964 The Burning Fiery Furnace 1966 and The Prodigal Son 1968 were for church performance and had their premieres at St Bartholomew s Church Orford The secular The Golden Vanity was intended to be performed in schools Owen Wingrave written for television was first presented live by the Royal Opera at Covent Garden in 1973 two years after its broadcast premiere 56 Music critics have frequently commented on the recurring theme in Britten s operas from Peter Grimes onward of the isolated individual at odds with a hostile society 177 The extent to which this reflected Britten s perception of himself pacifist and homosexual in the England of the 1930s 40s and 50s is debated 178 Another recurrent theme is the corruption of innocence most sharply seen in The Turn of the Screw 179 Over the 28 years between Peter Grimes and Death in Venice Britten s musical style changed as he introduced elements of atonalism though remaining essentially a tonal composer and of eastern music particularly gamelan sounds but also eastern harmonies 56 In A Midsummer Night s Dream the orchestral scoring varies to fit the nature of each set of characters the bright percussive sounds of harps keyboards and percussion for the fairy world warm strings and wind for the pairs of lovers and lower woodwind and brass for the mechanicals 180 In Death in Venice Britten turns Tadzio and his family into silent dancers accompanied by the colourful glittering sounds of tuned percussion to emphasize their remoteness 181 As early as 1948 the music analyst Hans Keller summarising Britten s impact on 20th century opera to that date compared his contribution to that of Mozart in the 18th century Mozart may in some respects be regarded as a founder a second founder of opera The same can already be said today as far as the modern British perhaps not only British field goes of Britten 182 In addition to his own original operas Britten together with Imogen Holst extensively revised Purcell s Dido and Aeneas 1951 and The Fairy Queen 1967 Britten s Purcell Realizations brought Purcell who was then neglected to a wider public but have themselves been neglected since the dominance of the trend to authentic performance practice 183 His 1948 revision of The Beggar s Opera amounts to a wholesale recomposition retaining the original melodies but giving them new highly sophisticated orchestral accompaniments 184 Song cycles Edit Throughout his career Britten was drawn to the song cycle form In 1928 when he was 14 he composed an orchestral cycle Quatre chansons francaises setting words by Victor Hugo and Paul Verlaine Brett comments that though the work is much influenced by Wagner on the one hand and French mannerisms on the other the diatonic nursery like tune for the sad boy with the consumptive mother in L enfance is entirely characteristic 56 After he came under Auden s influence Britten composed Our Hunting Fathers 1936 ostensibly a protest against fox hunting but which also alludes allegorically to the contemporary political state of Europe The work has never been popular in 1948 the critic Colin Mason lamented its neglect and called it one of Britten s greatest works In Mason s view the cycle is as exciting as Les Illuminations and offers many interesting and enjoyable foretastes of the best moments of his later works 185 Poets whose words Britten set included clockwise from top l Blake Rimbaud Owen and Verlaine The first of Britten s song cycles to gain widespread popularity was Les Illuminations 1940 for high voice originally soprano later more often sung by tenors n 17 with string orchestra accompaniment setting words by Arthur Rimbaud Britten s music reflects the eroticism in Rimbaud s poems Copland commented of the section Antique that he did not know how Britten dared to write the melody 56 Antique was dedicated to K H W S or Wulff Scherchen Britten s first romantic interest Matthews judges the piece the crowning masterpiece of Britten s early years 186 By the time of Britten s next cycle Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo 1942 for tenor and piano Pears had become his partner and muse in Matthews s phrase Britten wrote the cycle as his declaration of love for Peter 186 It too finds the sensuality of the verses it sets though in its structure it resembles a conventional 19th century song cycle Mason draws a distinction between this and Britten s earlier cycles because here each song is self contained and has no thematic connection with any of the others 185 The Serenade for Tenor Horn and Strings 1943 sets verses by a variety of poets all on the theme of night time Though Britten described the cycle as not important stuff but quite pleasant I think it was immediately greeted as a masterpiece and together with Peter Grimes it established him as one of the leading composers of his day 27 Mason calls it a beautifully unified work on utterly dissimilar poems held together by the most superficial but most effective and therefore most suitable symphonic method Some of the music is pure word painting some of it mood painting of the subtlest kind 187 Two years later after witnessing the horrors of Belsen Britten composed The Holy Sonnets of John Donne a work whose bleakness was not matched until his final tenor and piano cycle a quarter of a century later Britten s technique in this cycle ranges from atonality in the first song to firm tonality later with a resolute B major chord at the climax of Death be not proud 76 Nocturne 1958 is the last of the orchestral cycles As in the Serenade Britten set words by a range of poets who here include Shakespeare Coleridge Keats Shelley Tennyson and Wilfred Owen 56 The whole cycle is darker in tone than the Serenade with pre echoes of the War Requiem 188 All the songs have subtly different orchestrations with a prominent obbligato part for a different instrument in each 188 Among Britten s later song cycles with piano accompaniment is the Songs and Proverbs of William Blake composed for the baritone Dietrich Fischer Dieskau This presents all its poems in a continuous stream of music Brett writes that it interleaves a ritornello like setting of the seven proverbs with seven songs that paint an increasingly sombre picture of human existence 56 A Pushkin cycle The Poet s Echo 1965 was written for Galina Vishnevskaya and shows a more robust and extrovert side of the composer 56 Though written ostensibly in the tradition of European song cycles it draws atmospherically on the polyphony of south east Asian music 27 Who Are These Children 1969 setting 12 verses by William Soutar is among the grimmest of Britten s cycles After he could no longer play the piano Britten composed a cycle of Robert Burns settings A Birthday Hansel 1976 for voice and harp 56 Other vocal works Edit Nicholas Maw said of Britten s vocal music His feeling for poetry not only English and the inflexions of language make him I think the greatest musical realizer of English 116 One of the best known works in which Britten set poetry was the War Requiem 1962 It intersperses the Latin requiem mass sung by soprano and chorus with settings of works by the First World War poet Wilfred Owen sung by tenor and baritone At the end the two elements are combined as the last line of Owen s Strange meeting mingles with the In paradisum of the mass Matthews describes the conclusion of the work as a great wave of benediction which recalls the end of the Sinfonia da Requiem and its similar ebbing away into the sea that symbolises both reconciliation and death 189 The same year he composed A Hymn of St Columba for choir and organ setting a poem by the 6th century saint 190 Other works for voices and orchestra include the Missa Brevis and the Cantata academica both 1959 on religious themes Children s Crusade to a text by Bertolt Brecht about a group of children in wartime Poland to be performed by children 1969 and the late cantata Phaedra 1975 a story of fated love and death modelled on Handel s Italian cantatas 191 Smaller scale works for accompanied voice include the five Canticles composed between 1947 and 1974 They are written for a variety of voices tenor in all five counter tenor or alto in II and IV and baritone in IV and accompaniments piano in I to IV horn in III and harp in V 192 The first is a setting of Francis Quarles s 17th century poem A Divine Rapture 193 and according to Britten was modelled on Purcell s Divine Hymns 194 Matthews describes it as one of the composer s most serene works which ends in a mood of untroubled happiness that would soon become rare in Britten s music 193 The second Canticle was written in 1952 between Billy Budd and Gloriana on the theme of Abraham s obedience to Divine Authority in the proffered sacrifice of his son Isaac 195 n 18 Canticle III from 1954 is a setting of Edith Sitwell s wartime poem Still Falls the Rain composed just after The Turn of the Screw with which it is structurally and stylistically associated The twelve note cycle in the first five bars of the piano part of the Canticle introduced a feature that became thereafter a regular part of Britten s compositional technique 197 The fourth Canticle premiered in 1971 is based on T S Eliot s poem Journey of the Magi It is musically close to The Burning Fiery Furnace of 1966 Matthews refers to it as a companion piece to the earlier work 198 The final Canticle was another Eliot setting his juvenile poem Death of Saint Narcissus Although Britten had little idea of what the poem was about 199 the musicologist Arnold Whittall finds the text almost frighteningly apt for a composer conscious of his own sickness 200 Matthews sees Narcissus as another figure from Britten s magic world of dreams and ideal beauty 201 Orchestral works Edit The Britten scholar Donald Mitchell has written It is easy because of the scope stature and sheer volume of the operas and the wealth of vocal music of all kinds to pay insufficient attention to the many works Britten wrote in other specifically non vocal genres 27 Maw said of Britten He is one of the 20th century s great orchestral composers His orchestration has an individuality incisiveness and integration with the musical material only achieved by the greatest composers 116 Among Britten s best known orchestral works are the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge 1937 the Sinfonia da Requiem 1940 the Four Sea Interludes 1945 and The Young Person s Guide to the Orchestra 1945 The Variations an affectionate tribute to Britten s teacher range from comic parodies of Italian operatic cliches and Viennese waltzes to a strutting march reflecting the rise of militarism in Europe and a Mahlerian funeral march the piece ends with an exuberant fugal finale 202 The Sinfonia moves from an opening Lacrymosa filled with fear and lamentation to a fierce Dies irae and then to a final Requiem aeternam described by the critic Herbert Glass as the most uneasy eternal rest possible 203 Mason considers the Sinfonia a failure less entertaining than usual because its object is not principally to entertain but to express symphonically It fails because it is neither picturesquely nor formally symphonic 185 The Sea Interludes adapted by Britten from the full score of Peter Grimes make a concert suite depicting the sea and the Borough in which the opera is set the character of the music is strongly contrasted between Dawn Sunday Morning Moonlight and Storm The commentator Howard Posner observes that there is not a bar in the interludes no matter how beautiful that is free of foreboding 204 The Young Person s Guide based on a theme by Purcell showcases the orchestra s individual sections and groups and gained widespread popularity from the outset 205 206 Christopher Headington calls the work exuberant and uncomplicated music scored with clarity and vigour that fits well into Britten s oeuvre 205 David Matthews calls it a brilliant educational exercise 206 n 19 Unlike his English predecessors such as Elgar and Vaughan Williams and composers from mainland Europe whom he admired including Mahler and Shostakovich Britten was not a classical symphonist His youthful jeux d esprit the Simple Symphony 1934 is in conventional symphonic structure observing sonata form and the traditional four movement pattern but of his mature works his Spring Symphony 1949 is more a song cycle than a true symphony 56 and the concertante Cello Symphony 1963 is an attempt to balance the traditional concerto and symphony During its four movements the Cello Symphony moves from a deeply pessimistic opening to a finale of radiant happiness rare for Britten by this point 208 The composer considered it the finest thing I ve written 209 The Piano Concerto 1938 was at first criticised for being too light hearted and virtuoso In 1945 Britten revised it replacing a skittish third movement with a more sombre passacaglia that in Matthews s view gives the work more depth and makes the apparent triumph of the finale more ambivalent 210 The Violin Concerto 1939 finished in the first weeks of the World War has virtuoso elements but they are balanced by lyrical and elegiac passages undoubtedly reflecting Britten s growing concern with the escalation of world hostilities 211 Neither concerto is among Britten s most popular works but in the 21st century the Violin Concerto which is technically difficult has been performed more frequently than before both in the concert hall and on record 211 and has enthusiastic performers and advocates notably violinist Janine Jansen 212 Britten s incidental music for theatre film and radio much of it unpublished was the subject of an essay by William Mann published in 1952 in the first detailed critical assessment of Britten s music to that date 213 Of these pieces the music for a radio play The Rescue by Edward Sackville West is praised by the musicologist Lewis Foreman as of such stature and individual character as to be worth a regular place alongside Britten s other dramatic scores 214 Mann finds in this score pre echoes of the second act of Billy Budd 215 while Foreman observes that Britten appears to have made passing allusions to The Rescue in his final opera Death in Venice 214 Chamber and instrumental works Edit Britten s close friendship with Rostropovich inspired the Cello Sonata 1961 and three suites for solo cello 1964 71 216 String quartets featured throughout Britten s composing career from a student work in 1928 to his Third String Quartet 1975 The Second Quartet from 1945 was written in homage to Purcell Mason considered it Britten s most important instrumental work to that date 187 Referring to this work Keller writes of the ease with which Britten relatively early in his compositional career solves the modern sonata problem the achievement of symmetry and unity within an extended ternary circle based on more than one subject Keller likens the innovatory skill of the Quartet to that of Walton s Viola Concerto 217 The third Quartet was Britten s last major work the critic Colin Anderson said of it in 2007 one of Britten s greatest achievements one with interesting allusions to Bartok and Shostakovich and written with an economy that opens out a depth of emotion that can be quite chilling 218 The Gemini Variations 1965 for flute violin and piano duet were based on a theme of Zoltan Kodaly and written as a virtuoso piece for the 13 year old Jeney twins musical prodigies whom Britten had met in Budapest in the previous year 219 For Osian Ellis Britten wrote the Suite for Harp 1969 which Joan Chissell in The Times described as a little masterpiece of concentrated fancy 220 Nocturnal after John Dowland 1963 for solo guitar was written for Julian Bream and has been praised by Benjamin Dwyer for its semantic complexity prolonged musical argument and philosophical depth 221 Legacy Edit Snape Maltings concert hall a main venue of the Aldeburgh Festival founded by Britten Pears and Crozier Britten s fellow composers had divided views about him To Tippett he was simply the most musical person I have ever met with an incredible technical mastery 222 some contemporaries however were less effusive In Tippett s view Walton and others were convinced that Britten and Pears were leaders of a homosexual conspiracy in music n 20 a belief Tippett dismisses as ridiculous inspired by jealousy of Britten s postwar successes 224 Leonard Bernstein considered Britten a man at odds with the world and said of his music I f you hear it not just listen to it superficially you become aware of something very dark 225 The tenor Robert Tear who was closely associated with Britten in the latter part of the composer s career made a similar point There was a great huge abyss in his soul He got into the valley of the shadow of death and couldn t get out 226 In the decade after Britten s death his standing as a composer in Britain was to some extent overshadowed by that of the still living Tippett 227 The film maker Tony Palmer thought that Tippett s temporary ascendancy might have been a question of the two composers contrasting personalities Tippett had more warmth and had made fewer enemies In any event this was a short lived phenomenon Tippett adherents such as the composer Robert Saxton soon rediscovered their enthusiasm for Britten whose audience steadily increased during the final years of the 20th century 226 Britten has had few imitators Brett describes him as inimitable possessed of a voice and sound too dangerous to imitate 56 Nevertheless after his death Britten was lauded by the younger generation of English composers to whom in the words of Oliver Knussen he became a phenomenal father figure 226 Brett believes that he affected every subsequent British composer to some extent He is a key figure in the growth of British musical culture in the second half of the 20th century and his effect on everything from opera to the revitalization of music education is hard to overestimate 56 Whittall believes that one reason for Britten s enduring popularity is the progressive conservatism of his music He generally avoided the avant garde and did not challenge the conventions in the way that contemporaries such as Tippett did 228 Perhaps says Brett the tide that swept away serialism atonality and most forms of musical modernism and brought in neo Romanticism minimalism and other modes of expression involved with tonality carried with it renewed interest in composers who had been out of step with the times 56 Britten defined his mission as a composer in very simple terms composers should aim at pleasing people today as seriously as we can 229 Pianist and conductor EditBritten though a reluctant conductor and a nervous pianist was greatly sought after in both capacities 230 The piano accompanist Gerald Moore wrote in his memoirs about playing at all the main music festivals except for Aldeburgh because as the presiding genius there is the greatest accompanist in the world my services are not needed 231 n 21 Britten s recital partnership with Pears was his best known collaboration but he also accompanied Kathleen Ferrier Rostropovich Dietrich Fischer Dieskau James Bowman and John Shirley Quirk among others 233 Though usually too nervous to play piano solos Britten often performed piano duets with Clifford Curzon or Richter and chamber music with the Amadeus Quartet 233 The composers whose works other than his own he most often played were Mozart and Schubert the latter in Murray Perahia s view was Britten s greatest idol 234 As a boy and young man Britten had intensely admired Brahms but his admiration waned to nothing and Brahms seldom featured in his repertory n 22 Singers and players admired Britten s conducting and David Webster rated it highly enough to offer him the musical directorship of the Covent Garden Opera in 1952 n 23 Britten declined he was not confident of his ability as a conductor and was reluctant to spend too much time performing rather than composing 238 As a conductor Britten s repertory included Purcell Bach Haydn Mozart and Schubert and occasional less characteristic choices including Schumann s Scenes from Goethe s Faust Elgar s The Dream of Gerontius and Introduction and Allegro Holst s Egdon Heath and short pieces by Percy Grainger 233 239 Recordings EditBritten like Elgar and Walton before him was signed up by a major British recording company n 24 and performed a considerable proportion of his output on disc For the Decca Record Company he made some monaural records in the 1940s and 1950s followed with the enthusiastic support of the Decca producer John Culshaw by numerous stereophonic versions of his works 233 Culshaw wrote The happiest hours I have spent in any studio were with Ben for the basic reason that it did not seem that we were trying to make records or video tapes we were just trying to make music 242 n 25 In May 1943 Britten made his debut in the Decca studios accompanying Sophie Wyss in five of his arrangements of French folk songs The following January he and Pears recorded together in Britten s arrangements of British folk songs and the following day in duet with Curzon he recorded his Introduction and Rondo alla burlesca and Mazurka elegiaca In May 1944 he conducted the Boyd Neel string orchestra Dennis Brain and Pears in the first recording of the Serenade for Tenor Horn and Strings which has frequently been reissued most recently on CD 233 Britten s first operatic recording was The Turn of the Screw made in January 1955 with the original English Opera Group forces In 1957 he conducted The Prince of the Pagodas in an early stereo recording supervised by Culshaw 233 Decca s first major commercial success with Britten came the following year with Peter Grimes which has at 2013 never been out of the catalogues since its first release 233 From 1958 Britten conducted Decca recordings of many of his operas and vocal and orchestral works including the Nocturne 1959 the Spring Symphony 1960 and the War Requiem 1963 233 The last sold in unexpectedly large numbers for a classical set and thereafter Decca unstintingly made resources available to Culshaw and his successors for Britten recordings 244 Sets followed of Albert Herring 1964 the Sinfonia da Requiem 1964 Curlew River 1965 A Midsummer Night s Dream 1966 The Burning Fiery Furnace 1967 Billy Budd 1967 and many of the other major works 233 In 2013 to mark the anniversary of Britten s birth Decca released a set of 65 CDs and one DVD Benjamin Britten Complete Works n 26 Most of the recordings were from Decca s back catalogue but in the interests of comprehensiveness a substantial number of tracks were licensed from 20 other companies including EMI Virgin Classics Naxos Warner and NMC 245 As a pianist and conductor in other composers music Britten made many recordings for Decca Among his studio collaborations with Pears are sets of Schubert s Winterreise and Die schone Mullerin Schumann s Dichterliebe and songs by Haydn Mozart Bridge Ireland Holst Tippett and Richard Rodney Bennett 233 Other soloists whom Britten accompanied on record were Ferrier Rostropovich and Vishnevskaya As a conductor he recorded a wide range of composers from Purcell to Grainger Among his best known Decca recordings are Purcell s The Fairy Queen Bach s Brandenburg Concertos Cantata 151 Cantata 102 and St John Passion Elgar s The Dream of Gerontius and Mozart s last two symphonies 233 Honours awards and commemorations Edit 137 Cromwell Road blue plaque State honours awarded to Britten included Companion of Honour Britain in 1953 246 Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star Sweden in 1962 the Order of Merit Britain in 1965 247 and a life peerage Britain in July 1976 as Baron Britten of Aldeburgh in the County of Suffolk 122 He received honorary degrees and fellowships from 19 conservatories and universities in Europe and America His awards included the Hanseatic Goethe Prize 1961 the Aspen Award Colorado 1964 the Royal Philharmonic Society s Gold Medal 1964 the Wihuri Sibelius Prize 1965 the Mahler Medal Bruckner and Mahler Society of America 1967 the Leonie Sonning Music Prize Denmark 1968 the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize 1974 and the Ravel Prize 1974 248 Prizes for individual works included UNESCO s International Rostrum of Composers 1961 for A Midsummer Night s Dream and Grammy Awards in 1963 and 1977 for the War Requiem 249 The Red House Aldeburgh where Britten and Pears lived and worked together from 1957 until Britten s death in 1976 is now the home of the Britten Pears Foundation established to promote their musical legacy 250 In Britten s centenary year his studio at the Red House was restored to the way it was in the 1950s and opened to the public The converted hayloft was designed and built by H T Cadbury Brown in 1958 and was described by Britten as a magnificent work 251 In June 2013 Dame Janet Baker officially opened the Britten Pears archive in a new building in the grounds of the Red House 252 The Benjamin Britten Music Academy in Lowestoft founded in the composer s honour was completed in 1979 it is an 11 18 co educational day school with ties to the Britten Pears Foundation 253 Scallop by Maggi Hambling is a sculpture dedicated to Benjamin Britten on the beach at Aldeburgh The edge of the shell is pierced with the words I hear those voices that will not be drowned from Peter Grimes A memorial stone to Britten was unveiled in the north choir aisle of Westminster Abbey in 1978 254 There are memorial plaques to him at three of his London homes 173 Cromwell Road 255 45a St John s Wood High Street 256 and 8 Halliford Street in Islington 257 In April 2013 Britten was honoured by the Royal Mail in the UK as one of ten people selected as subjects for the Great Britons commemorative postage stamp issue 258 Other creative artists have celebrated Britten In 1970 Walton composed Improvisations on an Impromptu of Benjamin Britten based on a theme from Britten s Piano Concerto 259 Works commemorating Britten include Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten an orchestral piece written in 1977 by Arvo Part and Sally Beamish s Variations on a Theme of Benjamin Britten based on the second Sea Interlude from Peter Grimes she composed the work to mark Britten s centenary 260 Alan Bennett depicts Britten in a 2009 play The Habit of Art set while Britten is composing Death in Venice and centred on a fictional meeting between Britten and Auden Britten was played in the premiere production by Alex Jennings 261 Tony Palmer made three documentary films about Britten Benjamin Britten amp his Festival 1967 262 A Time There Was 1979 263 and Nocturne 2013 264 In 2019 Britten s War Requiem was selected by the U S Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry for being culturally historically and aesthetically significant 265 Centenary Edit In September 2012 to mark the composer s forthcoming centenary the Britten Pears Foundation launched Britten 100 a collaboration of leading organisations in the performing arts publishing broadcasting film academia and heritage 266 Among the events were the release of a feature film Benjamin Britten Peace and Conflict 267 and a centenary exhibition at the British Library 268 The Royal Mint issued a 50 pence piece to mark the centenary the first time a composer has featured on a British coin 269 Centenary performances of the War Requiem were given at eighteen locations in Britain Opera productions included Owen Wingrave at Aldeburgh Billy Budd at Glyndebourne Death in Venice by English National Opera Gloriana by The Royal Opera and Peter Grimes Death in Venice and A Midsummer Night s Dream by Opera North 270 Peter Grimes was performed on the beach at Aldeburgh opening the 2013 Aldeburgh Festival in June 2013 with Steuart Bedford conducting and singers from the Chorus of Opera North and the Chorus of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama 271 described by The Guardian as a remarkable and surely unrepeatable achievement 272 Internationally the anniversary was marked by performances of the War Requiem Peter Grimes and other works in four continents In the US the centennial events were described as coast to coast with a Britten festival at Carnegie Hall and performances at the New York Philharmonic the Metropolitan Opera and Los Angeles Opera 273 Notes references and sources EditNotes Britten s siblings were Edith Barbara 1902 82 Robert Harry Marsh Bobby 1907 87 and Charlotte Elizabeth Beth 1909 89 3 Britten later gave an example of the detailed skill instilled in him by Bridge I came up with a series of major sevenths on the violin Bridge was against this saying that the instrument didn t vibrate properly with this interval it should be divided between two instruments 26 When it came to leaving Gresham s Britten found it a wrench confessing I am terribly sorry to leave such boys as these I didn t think I should be so sorry to leave 31 In his later years Britten helped secure a place at the school for David Hemmings 31 This academic mistrust of Britten s technical skills persisted In 1994 the critic Derrick Puffett wrote that in the 1960s Britten was still regarded with suspicion on account of his technical expertise Puffett quoted remarks by the Professor of Music at Oxford in the 1960s Sir Jack Westrup to the effect that Britten was to be distrusted for his superficial effects whereas Tippett was considered awkward and technically unskilled but somehow authentic 35 Britten later wrote about his youthful discovery of Mahler that he had been told that the composer was long winded and formless a romantic self indulgent who was so infatuated with his ideas that he could never stop Either he couldn t score at all or he could only score like Wagner using enormous orchestras with so much going on that you couldn t hear anything clearly Above all he was not original In other words nothing for a young student Britten judged on the contrary His influence on contemporary writing could only be beneficial His style is free from excessive personal mannerisms and his scores are models of how the modern virtuoso orchestra should be used nothing being left to chance and every note sounding 38 Koussevitzky s generosity later extended to waiving his rights to mount the first production allowing Britten and his Sadler s Wells associates the chance to do so The opera s first performance under Koussevitzky s aegis was at the Tanglewood Music Festival in 1947 conducted by the young Leonard Bernstein 66 Bernstein retained a love of the work and he conducted the orchestral Sea Interludes from the opera at his final concert given in Tanglewood in 1990 shortly before his death 67 Sadler s Wells Theatre in Islington London was requisitioned by the government in 1942 as a refuge for people made homeless by air raids the Sadler s Wells opera company toured the British provinces returning to its home base in June 1945 70 Sullivan Parry Stanford Elgar Vaughan Williams Holst and Tippett were among the leading British composers of their time who held posts at conservatoires or universities 89 Those who like Britten were not known for teaching included Delius 90 and Walton 91 The critic Andrew Porter wrote at the time The audience naturally contained many people distinguished in political and social spheres rather than noted for their appreciation of twentieth century music and Gloriana was not well received at its first hearing The usual philistine charges brought against it as against so much contemporary music no tunes ugly discordant sounds and the rest are beneath consideration On the other hand those who found Gloriana ill suited to the occasion may be allowed to have some right on their side 95 The principal law against homosexual acts was the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 in which Section 11 made any kind of sexual activity between men illegal for the first time It was not repealed until the passage of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 Some writers have supposed that Britten was earlier offered and had declined a knighthood 123 but his name is not included in the official list issued in 2012 by the Cabinet Office naming everyone except those still living at the time of publication who had declined an honour between 1950 and 1999 124 The filmmaker John Bridcut sees significance in evidence that Britten mentally regarded himself as perpetually 13 years old Bridcut views this as manifest both in the Letts diaries Britten bought and used well into his adult life in which he wrote several statistics relevant to himself when that age 143 and in his remark to Imogen Holst I m still thirteen 144 In the early 1940s while living in North America Britten shared a room with 13 year old Bobby Rothman when staying with the Rothman family many an evening we used to spend a lot of time just really talking he in the bed next to me His fondness for me was something that was beyond my normal social connections and I was a little overwhelmed that someone should be so fond of me I can still remember us talking late at night one time and finding when it was really time to call it quits and go to sleep he said Bobby would you mind terribly if before we fell asleep I came over and gave you a hug and a kiss It was just one of those touching moments And I ve got to say I really did not know what to do except say no no I don t mind and he gently got up and gave me a gentle hug and kiss and said goodnight 147 lt ref gt The journalist Martin Kettle wrote in 2012 that although there is no evidence of wrongful conduct it is important that allegations of paedophilia should be openly discussed both to avoid covering up criminal behaviour and to avoid oversimplifying the complexity of Britten s sexuality and creativity 150 In 1938 Britten attended what was only the second British performance of Mahler s Eighth Symphony the Symphony of a Thousand with Sir Henry Wood and the BBC Symphony Orchestra Britten declared himself tremendously impressed by the music though he thought the performance execrable 170 The critics outrage at the presumption of Auden and Britten in writing an American work mirrored the hostile response of London critics six years earlier when Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein presented Three Sisters a musical set in England 176 lt ref gt Matthews comments that the work is so much more sensuous when sung by the soprano voice for which the songs were conceived 186 The piece was much admired by Tippett as one of the wonderful things in Britten s music an opinion with which Britten apparently concurred 196 The piece is formally sub titled Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Henry Purcell Britten greatly disliked the BBC s practice of referring to the work by the grander sub title in preference to his preferred title 207 Steuart Wilson a retired singer who held a succession of posts as a musical administrator launched an outspoken campaign in 1955 against homosexuality in British music and was quoted as saying The influence of perverts in the world of music has grown beyond all measure If it is not curbed soon Covent Garden and other precious musical heritages could suffer irreparable harm 223 In 2006 Gramophone magazine invited eminent present day accompanists to name their professional s professional the joint winners were Britten and Moore 232 Britten once said It s not bad Brahms I mind it s good Brahms I can t stand 235 So writes John Bridcut 236 but Webster s biographer Montague Haltrecht recounts that no formal offer of the post was made to Britten According to Haltrecht Lord Harewood and other Covent Garden board members wanted Britten for the post but Webster believed that it was above all as a composer that Britten could bring glory to Covent Garden 237 Elgar was an exclusive HMV artist 240 Walton after a brief spell with Decca made most of his recordings for Columbia 241 Imogen Holst remembered Britten s recording sessions differently He used to find recording sessions more exhausting than anything else and dreaded the days when he had to stop writing a new opera in order to record the one before last 243 The set comprises all the composer s works with opus numbers and all works commercially recorded by 2013 many fragments and juvenilia have not been published or recorded The set includes Britten s folksong arrangements but excludes his Purcell realisations 245 References Matthews 2013 p 1 Kennedy 1983 p 2 Evans 2009 p 513 Powell 2013 p 3 Carpenter 1992 pp 4 7 Kildea 2013 p 4 Matthews 2013 p 2 and Powell 2013 pp 10 11 Blyth 1981 p 36 Kildea 2013 p 4 and Matthews 2013 p 3 Carpenter 1992 pp 4 5 a b Powell 2013 p 7 Matthews 2013 p 3 Carpenter 1992 p 6 Blyth 1981 p 25 Blyth 1981 p 25 and Powell 2013 p 16 Carpenter 1992 pp 6 7 White 1954 p 2 Carpenter 1992 pp 8 13 Powell 2013 p 5 Carpenter 1992 pp 8 9 Carpenter 1992 p 10 Carpenter 1992 p 13 Britten Benjamin Notes to Decca LP LW 5162 1956 reproduced in Britten 1991 p 9 Carpenter 1992 pp 13 14 Lara Feigel Alexandra Harris eds Modernism on Sea Art and Culture at the British Seaside accessed 3 September 2013 a b Matthews 2013 p 8 Carpenter 1992 p 16 Quoted in Carpenter 1992 p 17 a b c d e f g Mitchell 2011 Carpenter 1992 p 18 and Oliver 1996 p 23 Bridcut 2006 p 16 Matthews 2013 p 11 a b Bridcut 2006 p 17 Matthews 2013 p 14 Craggs 2002 p 4 Carpenter 1992 p 35 Puffett Derrick Benjamin Britten A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter Albion A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies Volume 26 No 2 Summer 1994 pp 395 396 JSTOR 4052369 subscription required Cole Hugo Review Britten Tempo New Series No 78 Autumn 1966 pp 31 32 subscription required Carpenter 1992 p 40 a b Britten 1977 White 1954 pp 15 16 Carpenter 1992 pp 48 53 Oliver 1996 p 217 Carpenter 1992 pp 62 63 Powell 2013 p 92 Kennedy 1983 p 17 Carpenter 1992 pp 104 105 148 166 Matthews 2013 p 34 White Eric Walter Britten in the Theatre A Provisional Catalogue Tempo New Series No 107 December 1973 pp 2 10 subscription required Matthews 2013 p 184 Powell 2013 p 127 and Matthews 2013 p 38 Matthews 2013 pp 38 39 Powell 2013 p 130 Carpenter 1992 p 112 Matthews 2013 p 40 Matthews 2013 p 46 a b c d e Robinson 1997 a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Doctor et al 2013 Headington 1993 pp 87 88 Headington 1993 pp 91 92 Evans 1979 p 57 Headington 1993 pp 98 99 Kennedy 1983 p 31 Kennedy 1983 pp 213 216 256 Brogan Hugh W H Auden Benjamin Britten and Paul Bunyan Journal of American Studies Volume 32 No 2 August 1998 pp 281 282 subscription required Carpenter 1992 pp 150 151 White 1954 p 35 Powell 2013 p 252 Rockwell John The Last Days of Leonard Bernstein The New York Times 16 October 1990 accessed 10 June 2016 Matthews 2013 p 79 Matthews 2013 p 66 Gilbert 2009 pp 78 83 98 Gilbert 2009 p 98 See for example Sadler s Wells Opera Peter Grimes The Times 8 June 1945 p 6 and Glock William Music The Observer 10 June 1945 p 2 Banks 2000 pp xvi xviii Blyth 1981 p 79 Gilbert 2009 p 107 a b Matthews 2013 p 80 Carpenter 1992 p 228 and Matthews 2013 p 80 Matthews 2013 pp 80 81 Instruments of the Orchestra Archived 22 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine British Film Institute accessed 24 May 2013 Matthews 2013 p 81 Hope Wallace Philip Opera at Glyndebourne The Manchester Guardian 15 July 1946 p 3 and Carpenter 1992 pp 242 243 Carpenter 1992 p 243 Wood Anne English Opera Group The Times 12 July 1947 p 5 Headington 1993 pp 149 150 and Matthews 2013 p 89 Headington 1993 p 151 Matthews 2013 pp 92 93 Hall George Festival Overtures Britten in Bloom Opera Volume 64 4 April 2013 pp 436 438 Mason Colin Benjamin Britten s Dream The Guardian 11 June 1960 p 5 and Greenfield Edward Britten s Death in Venice The Guardian 18 June 1973 p 8 Wright David The South Kensington Music Schools and the Development of the British Conservatoire in the Late Nineteenth Century Journal of the Royal Musical Association Oxford University Press Volume 130 No 2 pp 236 282 Sullivan Parry and Stanford subscription required McVeagh Diana Elgar Edward Grove Music Online Oxford University Press Elgar subscription or UK public library membership required Graebe Martin Gustav Holst Songs of the West and the English Folk Song Movement Folk Music Journal Volume 10 1 2011 pp 5 41 Vaughan Williams and Holst subscription required and Clarke David Tippett Sir Michael Grove Music Online Oxford University Press subscription or UK public library membership required All accessed 24 May 2013 Heseltine Philip Some Notes on Delius and His Music The Musical Times March 1915 pp 137 142 subscription required Kirkbride Jo William Walton 1902 1983 Two Pieces from Henry V 1944 Scottish Chamber Orchestra accessed 10 June 2016 Ballets de Paris de Roland Petit Le Reve de Leonor The Times 27 April 1949 p 3 Carpenter 1992 p 214 Blom Eric Britten s Billy Budd The Observer 2 December 1951 p 6 Hope Wallace Philip Britten s Billy Budd The Manchester Guardian 3 December 1951 p 5 and Porter Andrew Britten s Billy Budd Music amp Letters Volume 33 No 2 April 1952 pp 111 118 subscription required a b Porter Andrew Britten s Gloriana Music amp Letters Vol 34 No 4 October 1953 pp 277 287 subscription required Matthews 2013 p 107 Greenfield Edward Gloriana at Sadler s Wells The Guardian 22 October 1966 p 6 Christiansen Rupert Gloriana Britten s problem opera The Daily Telegraph 18 June 2013 and Church Michael Richard Jones s revelatory ROH revival of Britten s underrated Gloriana The Independent 21 June 2013 Mason Colin Britten s New Opera at Venice Festival Welcome for The Turn of the Screw The Manchester Guardian 15 September 1954 p 5 Operas Britten Operabase accessed 25 May 2013 Archived 23 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine Weeks 1989 pp 239 240 Carpenter 1992 p 334 Carpenter 1992 p 335 Britten 2008 p 388 Britten 2008 p 441 Carpenter 1992 pp 434 435 478 480 Mann William Queen opens concert hall The Times 3 June 1967 p 7 and Greenfield Edward Inaugural Concert at the Maltings Snape The Guardian 3 June 1967 p 7 Greenfield Edward Queen at new Maltings concert The Guardian 6 June 1970 p 1 Mann William Shostakovich special The Times 15 June 1970 p 10 Matthews 2013 p 124 Carpenter 1992 p 482 Matthews 2013 pp 124 125 127 Ray 2000 p 155 Matthews 2013 p 127 Blyth 1981 p 151 a b c d Davies Peter Maxwell Nicholas Maw and others Benjamin Britten Tributes and Memories Tempo New Series No 120 March 1977 pp 2 6 subscription required Evans Peter Britten s Television Opera The Musical Times Volume 112 No 1539 May 1971 pp 425 428 JSTOR 955942 subscription required Piper 1989 p 15 a b Graham 1989 p 55 Oliver 1996 p 206 Carpenter 1992 p 596 a b No 46954 The London Gazette 6 July 1976 p 9295 Powell 2013 p 458 Rosenbaum Martin Government forced to release list of rejected honours BBC 26 January 2012 accessed 24 May 2013 and List of honours refused Cabinet Office January 2012 Headington 1996 p 143 Kennedy 1983 p 114 Matthews 2013 p 154 a b c Matthews 2013 p 155 Powers Alan Reynolds Stone A Centenary Tribute Archived 10 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine Fine Press Book Association accessed 27 May 2013 Headington 1993 p 277 Memorial service Lord Britten OM CH The Times 11 March 1977 p 20 Ford 2011 p 77 and Begbie amp Guthrie 2011 pp 192 193 Carpenter 1992 p 113 Carpenter 1992 p 114 Carpenter 1992 p 486 Carpenter 1992 p 654 Matthews 2013 pp 3 4 and Keates Jonathan It was boyishness Britten loved as much as boys The Sunday Telegraph 11 June 2006 accessed 10 June 2016 Carpenter 1992 p 302 a b Kildea 2013 p 202 Carpenter 1992 pp 384 385 Mackerras and 444 445 Harewood Blyth 1981 p 139 Matthews 2013 p 96 Bridcut 2006 pp 1 2 Bridcut 2006 p 8 Bridcut 2006 p 3 Bridcut 2006 plate 13 and Carpenter 1992 pp 356 358 385 Britten 2004 p 90 Carpenter 1992 p 164 Bridcut 2006 p 6 Kettle Martin Why we must talk about Britten s boys The Guardian 21 November 2012 accessed 11 June 2016 Toronyi Lalic Igor Paul Kildea s erudite biography underplays Benjamin Britten s dark side The Daily Telegraph 11 February 2013 accessed 11 June 2016 and Morrison Richard Crossing the line between affection and abuse The Times 9 May 2006 accessed 11 June 2016 subscription required Carpenter 1992 pp 356 358 Miller Lucasta Ben and his boys Britten s obsession with adolescents is sensitively handled The Guardian 1 July 2006 and Keates Jonathan Boyishness as much as boys The Sunday Telegraph 11 June 2006 subscription required DiGaetani John Louis 2008 Stages of Struggle Modern Playwrights and Their Psychological Inspirations McFarland p 105 ISBN 978 0 7864 8259 7 he continued to be sexually attracted to adolescent boys though the relationships were platonic according to his biographers Johnson Stephen 1 October 2006 Review Britten s Children by John Bridcut Tempo 60 238 51 doi 10 1017 S0040298206210325 JSTOR 3878655 numerous embraces and chaste kisses and even chaster bed sharing but beyond that nothing Kildea 2013 pp 532 535 Petch Michael Opera April 2013 p 414 Higgins Charlotte Benjamin Britten syphilis extremely unlikely says cardiologist The Guardian 22 January 2013 Kildea Paul The evidence does show Britten died from syphilis The Guardian 30 January 2013 Morrison Richard The temptation to settle old scores A centenary biography of Britten should not be judged by just one sensational speculation the rest is fascinating and convincing The Times 4 February 2013 Matthews 2013 p 4 Schafer 1963 p 119 Matthews 2013 p 9 Matthews 2013 p 144 Whittall 1982 pp 273 274 Carpenter 1992 p 39 Kildea 2013 p 78 Whittall 1982 p 104 Brett 1983 p 125 Matthews 2013 pp 20 23 Letter to Henry Boys 29 June 1937 quoted in Matthews 2013 p 22 Kennedy Michael Mahler s mass following The Spectator 13 January 2010 accessed 11 June 2016 Whittall 1982 p 203 Operas Archived 13 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine Britten Pears Foundation accessed 26 June 2013 List of top composers Operabase accessed 28 April 2011 Britten Pears Foundation announces Centenary grants March 2011 Boosey amp Hawkes accessed 11 June 2016 Brett Philip 2013 The Britten Century In Bostridge Mark ed Britten s Century Celebrating 100 Years of Britten Bloomsbury p 17 ISBN 978 1 4411 4958 9 Banfield 2006 p 224 ODNB Greenfield Edward Inspired genius oblivious to musical fashion The Guardian 6 December 1976 p 7 Seymour 2007 pp 19 77 116 216 Kildea 2013 pp 2 3 Seymour 2007 pp 19 20 and Powell 2013 p 233 The Turn of the Screw Britten Pears Foundation accessed 11 June 2016 A Midsummer Night s Dream Programme note Archived 1 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine Britten Pears Foundation accessed 11 June 2018 Death in Venice Programme note Britten Pears Foundation accessed 11 June 2016 Keller Hans Britten and Mozart Music amp Letters January 1948 pp 17 30 subscription required Matthews 2013 p 102 Matthews 2013 p 91 a b c Mason Colin Benjamin Britten The Musical Times Vol 89 No 1261 March 1948 pp 73 75 subscription required a b c Matthews 2013 p 56 a b Mason Colin Benjamin Britten continued The Musical Times Vol 89 No 1262 April 1948 pp 107 110 subscription required a b Matthews 2013 pp 120 121 Matthews 2013 pp 125 127 Spicer Paul A Hymn of St Columba PDF Britten Choral Guide Boosey amp Hawkes pp 8 9 Retrieved 13 November 2019 Matthews 2013 pp 146 185 188 Canticle I Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine Canticle II Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine Canticle III Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine Canticle IV Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine and Canticle V Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine Britten Pears Foundation accessed 30 June 2013 a b Matthews 2013 pp 98 99 Schafer 1963 p 121 Matthews 2013 p 111 Carpenter 1992 p 305 Whittall 1982 pp 162 164 Matthews 2013 p 140 Carpenter 1992 p 565 Whittall 1982 p 272 Matthews 2013 p 153 Richards Denby 1977 Notes to Chandos CD 8376 Glass Herbert Sinfonia da Requiem Archived 17 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Los Angeles Philharmonic accessed 26 June 2013 Posner Howard Four Sea Interludes Archived 30 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine Los Angeles Philharmonic accessed 26 June 2013 a b Headington 1996 p 82 a b Matthews 2013 p 85 Carpenter 1992 p 231 Matthews 2013 pp 128 183 Powell 2013 p 382 Matthews 2013 pp 46 48 a b Britten Benjamin Violin Concerto Boosey amp Hawkes accessed 30 June 2013 Niles Laurie 30 March 2010 Janine Jansen on the Britten Violin Concerto violinist com Retrieved 17 September 2020 Mann 1952 pp 295 311 a b Foreman Lewis Benjamin Britten and The Rescue Tempo September 1988 pp 28 33 subscription required Mann 1952 p 303 Matthews 2013 pp 188 189 Keller Hans Benjamin Britten s Second Quartet Tempo March 1947 pp 6 9 subscription required Anderson Colin Britten Phantasy Quartet String Quartet No 3 Bliss Oboe Quintet Fanfare March 2007 pp 87 88 Carpenter 1992 p 448 Chissell Joan Little Masterpieces The Times 26 June 1976 p 11 Dwyer Benjamin 2016 Britten and the Guitar Dublin Carysfort Press p 159 ISBN 978 1 909325 93 7 Tippett 1994 p 117 The People 24 July 1955 cited in Britten 2004 p 7 Tippett 1994 p 214 Bernstein in the TV documentary A Time There Was quoted by Carpenter 1992 p 590 a b c Carpenter 1992 pp 590 591 Steinberg 1998 p 643 Whittall 1982 pp 299 301 Oliver 1996 p 213 Blyth 1981 pp 18 19 92 Moore 1974 p 252 Gramophone Volume 83 2006 pp 38 39 a b c d e f g h i j k Stuart Philip Decca Classical 1929 2009 accessed 24 May 2013 Blyth 1981 p 171 Blyth 1981 p 88 Bridcut 2012 p 173 Haltrecht 1975 pp 185 186 Bridcut 2012 pp 173 176 Bridcut 2012 pp 175 176 Philip Robert The recordings of Edward Elgar 1857 1934 Authenticity and Performance Practice Early Music November 1984 pp 481 489 subscription required Greenfield Edward The Music of William Walton Gramophone October 1994 p 92 Culshaw John Ben A Tribute to Benjamin Britten 1913 1976 Gramophone February 1977 p 21 Holst Imogen Working for Benjamin Britten The Musical Times March 1977 pp 202 204 and 206 subscription required Culshaw 1981 p 339 a b Decca announces first Britten complete works Archived 19 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine Britten100 Britten Pears Foundation 16 May 2013 No 39863 The London Gazette Supplement 1 June 1953 p 2976 No 43610 The London Gazette Supplement 26 March 1965 p 3047 Britten Baron Who Was Who A amp C Black online edition Oxford University Press December 2007 accessed 24 May 2013 subscription required Grammy Hall of Fame Archived 26 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine Grammy org accessed 24 May 2013 Visit The Red House Britten Pears Foundation accessed 10 June 2016 Benjamin Britten studio restored The Daily Telegraph 14 June 2013 accessed 11 June 2016 Britten Pears Archive opens in Aldeburgh Gramophone 14 June 2013 Home page Archived 19 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine Benjamin Britten School accessed 29 July 2016 Benjamin Britten Westminster Abbey accessed 24 May 2013 Benjamin Britten OM 1913 1976 Open Plaques accessed 10 June 2016 Green plaques scheme Archived 15 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine Westminster City Council accessed 24 May 2013 search name Islington Borough plaques Archived 22 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine Islington Borough Council accessed 24 May 2013 Great Britons Archived 2 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine Royal Mail accessed 11 June 2013 Greenfield Edward Notes to EMI CD CDM 7 64723 2 1986 Arts News The Herald 15 March 2013 accessed 11 June 2016 Taylor Paul Bennett the maestro returns with a multi layered masterpiece The Independent 18 November 2009 accessed 11 June 2016 Benjamin Britten amp his Festival 1967 The British Film Institute accessed 11 June 2016 Benjamin Britten A Time There Was 1979 IMDb accessed 11 June 2016 Britten Nocturne DVD Amazon accessed 11 June 2016 Andrews Travis M 20 March 2019 Jay Z a speech by Sen Robert F Kennedy and Schoolhouse Rock among recordings deemed classics by Library of Congress The Washington Post Retrieved 25 March 2019 It s begun Biggest ever celebration of a British composer underway Archived 30 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Britten100 Britten Pears Foundation accessed 24 May 2013 French Philip Benjamin Britten Peace and Conflict review The Observer 26 May 2013 Poetry in Sound The Music of Benjamin Britten 1913 1976 The British Library accessed 11 June 2016 Royal Mint unveils commemorative Britten coin Gramophone 1 September 2013 Britten events worldwide Archived 25 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine Britten100 Britten Pears Foundation accessed 15 June 2013 In pictures Britten s Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh beach BBC 18 June accessed 11 June 2016 Clement Andrew Grimes on the Beach The Guardian 19 June 2013 accessed 11 June 2016 Tommasini Anthony Britten at 100 An Original s Legacy The New York Times 7 June 2013 accessed 11 June 2016 Sources Banfield Stephen 2006 Jerome Kern Foreword by Geoffrey Holden Block New Haven Connecticut Yale University Press ISBN 978 0 300 13834 4 Banks Paul 2000 The Making of Peter Grimes Essays and Studies Woodbridge Boydell Press ISBN 978 0 85115 791 7 Begbie Jeremy Guthrie Steven R 2011 Resonant Witness Conversations between Music and Theology Grand Rapids Michigan W B Eerdmans ISBN 978 0 8028 6277 8 Blyth Alan 1981 Remembering Britten London Hutchinson ISBN 978 0 09 144950 6 Brett Philip ed 1983 Benjamin Britten Peter Grimes Cambridge Cambridge University Press ISBN 978 0 521 29716 5 Bridcut John 2006 Britten s Children London Faber and Faber ISBN 978 0 571 22839 3 Bridcut John 2012 The Essential Britten London Faber and Faber ISBN 978 0 571 29073 4 Britten Benjamin March 1977 On Behalf of Gustav Mahler Tempo 120 14 15 doi 10 1017 S0040298200028825 JSTOR 942549 subscription required Britten Benjamin 1991 Donald Mitchell ed Letters From a Life The Selected Letters of Benjamin Britten Volume I 1923 1939 London Faber and Faber ISBN 978 0 571 15221 6 Britten Benjamin 2004 Donald Mitchell ed Letters from a Life The Selected Letters of Benjamin Britten Volume III 1946 1951 London Faber and Faber ISBN 978 0 571 22282 7 Britten Benjamin 2008 Reed Philip Cooke Mervyn Mitchell Donald eds Letters from a Life The Selected Letters of Benjamin Britten Volume IV 1952 1957 London The Boydell Press ISBN 978 1 84383 382 6 Carpenter Humphrey 1992 Benjamin Britten A Biography London Faber and Faber ISBN 978 0 571 14324 5 Craggs Stewart R 2002 Benjamin Britten A Bio bibliography Westport Connecticut Greenwood Publishing ISBN 978 0 313 29531 7 Culshaw John 1981 Putting the Record Straight London Secker amp Warburg ISBN 978 0 436 11802 9 Doctor Jennifer LeGrove Judith Banks Paul Wiebe Heather Brett Philip 2013 Britten Edward Benjamin Grove Music Online Oxford University Press doi 10 1093 gmo 9781561592630 article 46435 ISBN 978 1 56159 263 0 subscription or UK public library membership required Evans Peter 1979 The Music of Benjamin Britten London J M Dent ISBN 978 0 460 04350 2 Evans John 2009 Journeying Boy The Diaries of the Young Benjamin Britten 1928 1938 London Faber and Faber ISBN 978 0 571 23883 5 Ford Andrew 2011 Illegal Harmonies Music in the Modern Age third ed Collingwood Vic Black ISBN 978 1 86395 528 7 Gilbert Susie 2009 Opera for Everybody London Faber and Faber ISBN 978 0 571 22493 7 Graham Colin 1989 1979 Staging first productions In David Herbert ed The Operas of Benjamin Britten London Herbert Press ISBN 978 1 871569 08 7 Haltrecht Montague 1975 The Quiet Showman Sir David Webster and the Royal Opera House London Collins ISBN 978 0 00 211163 8 Headington Christopher 1993 1992 Peter Pears A Biography London Faber and Faber ISBN 978 0 571 17072 2 Headington Christopher 1996 Britten Illustrated Lives of the Great Composers London Omnibus Press ISBN 978 0 7119 4812 9 Kennedy Michael 1983 Britten London J M Dent ISBN 978 0 460 02201 9 Kildea Paul 2013 Benjamin Britten A life in the twentieth century London Penguin Books ISBN 978 1 84614 233 8 Mann William 1952 The Incidental Music In Mitchell Donald Keller Hans eds Benjamin Britten A Commentary on his Works from a Group of Specialists Rockliff OCLC 602843346 Matthews David 2013 Britten London Haus Publishing ISBN 978 1 908323 38 5 Mitchell Donald 6 January 2011 Britten Edward Benjamin Baron Britten 1913 1976 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press doi 10 1093 ref odnb 30853 Retrieved 6 April 2021 subscription or UK public library membership required Moore Gerald 1974 1962 Am I Too Loud Memoirs of an Accompanist Harmondsworth Penguin ISBN 978 0 14 002480 7 Oliver Michael 1996 Benjamin Britten London Phaidon Press ISBN 978 0 7148 3277 7 Powell Neil 2013 Britten A Life for Music London Hutchinson ISBN 978 0 09 193123 0 Piper Myfanwy 1989 1979 Writing for Britten In David Herbert ed The Operas of Benjamin Britten London Herbert Press ISBN 978 1 871569 08 7 Ray John 2000 The Night Blitz 1940 1941 London Cassell ISBN 978 0 304 35676 8 Robinson Suzanne Autumn 1997 An English Composer Sees America Benjamin Britten and the North American Press 1939 42 American Music 15 3 321 351 doi 10 2307 3052328 JSTOR 3052328 subscription required Schafer Murray 1963 British Composers in Interview London Faber and Faber OCLC 460298065 Seymour Claire Karen 2007 The operas of Benjamin Britten Expression and Evasion Woodbridge Boydell Press ISBN 978 1 84383 314 7 Steinberg Michael 1998 The Symphony A Listener s Guide Oxford Oxford University Press ISBN 978 0 19 506177 2 Tippett Michael 1994 Those Twentieth Century Blues London Pimlico Books ISBN 978 0 7126 6059 4 Weeks Jeffrey 1989 Sex Politics and Society London Longman ISBN 978 0 582 48333 0 White Eric Walker 1954 Benjamin Britten His Life and Operas New York Boosey amp Hawkes ISBN 978 0 520 01679 8 Whittall Arnold 1982 The Music of Britten and Tippett Cambridge Cambridge University Press ISBN 978 0 521 23523 5 External links EditWikimedia Commons has media related to Benjamin Britten Britten Pears Foundation Britten 100 Britten Pears Foundation s website for the Britten centenary Aldeburgh Music The organisation founded by Benjamin Britten in 1948 originally as Aldeburgh Festival the living legacy of Britten s vision for a festival and creative campus Discovering Britten BBC Radio 3 Gresham College Britten and Bridge lecture and performance investigating the relation between the two composers 5 February 2008 available for download as text audio or video file Britten Thematic Catalogue Britten Project Boosey amp Hawkes Britten s publishers up to 1963 biographies work lists and descriptions recordings performance schedules Faber Music Publisher set up by Britten for his works after 1963 biography work lists recordings performance schedules MusicWeb International Benjamin Britten 1913 1976 by Rob Barnett National Portrait Gallery Benjamin Britten Baron Britten 1913 1976 109 portraits Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Benjamin Britten amp oldid 1028768825, wikipedia, wiki, book,


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