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Benjamin BRITTEN
22 November 1913 - 4 December 1976 (age 63)

Benjamin Britten was an important 20th century English composer, conductor, pianist, violist and teacher.

Family

Centenary

A brief biography

Works

Quotes

Links

Portrait by Paul Helm ©

 

Portrait of Benjamin Britten


Family

Born: Lowestoft, England, on St Cecilia's Day (the patron saint of music)
Father:
Robert, dental surgeon
Mother: Edith, amateur singer with musical ambitions for the children
Siblings: Youngest of 4
Partner: the tenor Sir Peter Pears
Children: none
Cause of death: cardiovascular disease.
Grave: St Peter and St Paul Churchyard, Aldeburgh,Suffolk, England


Centenary

2013 was the centenary of his birth and there are still plenty of events to celebrate his life and work.  There is a site specifically set up for the centenary at
www,britten100.org with useful information about Britten.


A Brook Bond Tea trading card

Works

Output: considerable
Styles: various
- orchestral, vocal/choral songs, cello, music for children
- 16 operas
Best know works:
- The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
(subtitled Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Purcell)
- The War Requiem (Grammy award 1963, BRIT Award 1977)
- Peter Grimes
- Billy Budd
- Gloriana
- Cello Symphony
- The Prodigal Son
- A Midsummer Night's Dream
- Death in Venice


Places to visit

His birthplace and family home is now Lowestoft's only 5 star hotel - Britten House. If you can't get to stay there you can take a look at their website: Britten House Hotel

Or there is the Red House at Aldeburgh where he lived with Peter Pears. There is also the Britten/Pears library. There is lots to see: The Red House


Benjamin 50pence coin

A brief biography

Born: Lowestoft, England 22 November 1913 (Feast of St Cecilia, patron saint of music)

His birthplace and family home is now Lowestoft's only 5 star hotel: Britten House

Died: Aldeburgh, Suffolk. 4 December 1976. Buried there next to his partner Sir Peter Pears

At 5 yrs started piano lessons and composing

At 14 yrs taught by composer Frank Bridges

At 16 yrs scholarship to Royal College of Music, taught by John Ireland.

After graduation wrote music for documentary films made by the Post Office Film Unit where he met and started a collaboration with W.H Auden.

At 24 yrs his mother died. Met the tenor Peter Pears who was to become his life long partner.

At 26 yrs (1939) went to Canada and USA with Peter Pears. War broke out so they didn't return till 1942. As pacifists they registered as conscientious objectors and were exempt from fighting.

1955 Travelled extensively in Europe and Far East. Influenced by the music of Bali and Japan.

1976 accepted a life peerage, becoming Baron Britten of Aldeburgh. Died 2 months later.

  


Highly recommended: Tony Palmer's brilliant film "A Time There Was..." about Benjamin Britten, his life and his music. Available on DVD. Click on the panel and read the reviews on the Amazon page.


The Aldeburgh Scallop - a Tribute

In 2003 a 4 metre high steel scallop was unveiled on a quiet beach north of Aldeburgh. It is a sculptural tribute by artist Maggi Hambling and was made by local craftsmen Sam and Dennis Pegg.
Read more about it on Maggi Hambling's website

The Amazon Store
Books, CDs & DVDs on Amazon.com (US)
or go here for Amazon.co.UK


Benjamin Brtiten's signature

Quotes

- “The idea of a composer suddenly having a terrific idea and sitting up all night to write it is nonsense. Night-time is for sleeping.”

- "Composing is like driving down a foggy road toward a house. Slowly you see more details of the house - the colour of the slates and bricks, the shape of the windows. The notes are the bricks and the mortar of the house".


ebay

On eBay you will find bargains galore but more interestingly there is a treasure chest of old items. Out of print books, old recordings no longer available, memorabilia and goods no longer sold on the High Street.To see what is currently on offer take a look at:

Benjamin Britten on eBay - what's on now!


The Benjamin Britten Rose

A beautiful English rose. Introduced in 2001 and bred by David Austin Roses.


War Requiem - Dies Irae opening
Rostropovich conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus


Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge / Intro & Adagio


Peter Grimes


Les Illuminations


Pears sings Schubert accompanied by Britten


Links, sources, where to go for more information

- The Britten Pears Foundation

- Britten100 All about the centenary celebrations.

- The Puccini of Lowestoft (Guardian article) by Hywel Williams
www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/dec/05/comment.music

- Benjamin Britten - a project by students of the California Institute of Technology
www.its.caltech.edu/~tan/Britten/.index.html


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