Benjamin Britten

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Related to Benjamin Britten: Peter Pears

Britten, Benjamin


Born Nov. 22, 1913, in Lowestoft, England. English composer, pianist, conductor, and prominent musical and public figure.

Britten is the most outstanding representative of contemporary English music. In 1925 he began studying composition with F. Bridge and from 1929 to 1933 attended the Royal College of Music in London, studying composition with J. Ireland and piano with A. Benjamin. He made his debut as a composer at the Festival of Contemporary Music in Florence in 1934. He was one of the founders and the manager of the English Opera Group, a small operatic group of the London Covent Garden Theater (from 1947) with whom he performed in the USSR in 1964. He was also manager of the Aldeburgh Festival in 1948. His work brought about the revival of the British musical theater. He has written 11 operas, including Peter Grimes (1945), Albert Herring (1947), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1960); a new version of the comic Beggar’s Opera by John Gay and Pepusch (1948); the children’s opera Let’s Make an Opera! (1949); and the ballet The Prince of the Pagodas (produced in 1957). His greatest achievements have been in chamber opera—for example, The Turn of the Screw (1954).

Britten’s stage music is characterized by its striking national characteristics, sharp dramatic clashes, the depth of psychological aspects, and the variety of musical means of expression; the vocal parts have both melodic and harsh, raw effects. Britten’s musical style characteristically combines the tradition of the 17th and 18th centuries. (H. Purcell, J. S. Bach, and others) with supermodern musical effects (War Requiem for solo voices, mixed choir, boys’ choir, symphony orchestra, and organ; 1961). Among his other vocal-symphonic works are Ballad About Heroes (1939), dedicated to those who fought in the International Brigade in Spain, and the Cantata Misericordium. His orchestral works include Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge; Sinfonia da Requiem (1940); Sinfonietta for Chamber Orchestra (1932); concerti (two for piano and one for violin with orchestra); and a symphony for cello with orchestra, dedicated to M. Rostropovich (1963).

Britten composed chamber instrumental pieces and many vocal compositions—the song cycles The Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo (1940) and songs composed on Pushkin’s words, dedicated to G. Vishnevskaia (1965), for example. He has accompanied the singer P. Pears (also in the USSR). Britten has composed arrangements of works by Purcell and of English, Scottish, and French folk songs. He also composes for the theater, motion pictures, and radio. Britten has conducted in the USSR on many occasions (first visit, 1963).


The Story of Music. London, 1958. (With I. Hoist.)


Tauragis, A. B. Britten. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Holst, I. Bendzhamin Britten. Moscow, 1968. (With bibliography; translated from English.)
White, E. W. B. Britten. London, 1954.
B. Britten: A Complete Catalogue of His Works. London, 1963.
Young, P. B. Britten. London, 1966.
References in periodicals archive ?
Osian Ellis with Benjamin Britten (left) and Peter Pears (right).
Forty years after Britten's death, My Beloved Man: The Letters of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears is a long-awaited complement to the historic study of the life, love, and artistry of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears.
Musico admirado y con un gran reconocimiento en vida, porque ademas de su genial talento, era un hombre generoso y siempre propositivo, Benjamin Britten desarrollo una estrecha amistad con otros importantes colegas suyos que siempre vieron en el un ejemplo de creatividad y de trabajo, de solidaria complicidad para echar a andar grandes proyectos, de lo cual dejo constancia en sus no pocos esfuerzos de unidad con otras grandes leyendas de la talla de los rusos Dimitri Shostakovich y Mstislav Rostropovich
PRACTISING: Caldicoates School pupils get ready to rehearse their compositions for the Benjamin Britten anniversary event
To my friend Benjamin Britten, composer, I beg, That fortune send him soon a passionate affair.
English composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) was one of the most distinctive voices in mid-20th-century opera.
A major festival in November will honour the work of British composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), featuring performances in several Ontario cities of work with religious themes.
On October 29, 1991, the National Cathedral hosted The War Requiem, composed by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976).
Peter Stansky and William Abrahams are concerned with artists: sculptor Henry Moore; painters Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland - although the latter is best known in this country for the huge and magnificent tapestry in the apse of the restored Coventry Cathedral; film director Humphrey Jennings; and composer Benjamin Britten.
In 1960 he met composer Benjamin Britten with whom he had a long association.
1976: Tributes are being paid to Benjamin Britten, above, who died today.
Journeying Boy: the Diaries of the Young Benjamin Britten 1928-1938, edited by John Evans, provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of the composer during his formative years.