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This long-awaited third volume of composer Benjamin Britten's remarkable letters covers the years 1946-51. Fresh from the astonishing success of his great first opera, Peter Grimes, Britten was vital to the post-war rebuilding of the arts in Great Britain with his visionary work as a composer, conductor, and performer. With his partner, the celebrated tenor Peter Pears, he founded the Aldeburgh Festival, which eventually grew into the international festival that it is today, and the English Opera Group. He also toured widely in Europe and the United States as a pianist and conductor. During this time he wrote many of his best-known works, including the operas Billy Budd, Albert Herring, and The Rape of Lucretia. Britten's correspondents include literary figures such as Christopher Isherwood, Edith Sitwell, E. M. Forster (the librettist for Billy Budd), and Edward Sackville-West, as well as musical colleagues from around the world including Ernest Ansermet, Francis Poulenc, Aaron Copland, and Igor Stravinsky. This volume of selected letters represents one of the richest and most innovative periods of the composer's creative life. His daily concerns and the unique era in which he lived are vividly evoked by the comprehensive and scholarly annotations, which offer a wide range of detailed and fascinating information. Donald Mitchell contributes a superb introduction.
King Arthur (Scenes from a radio drama) was the first of 28 scores Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) composed for radio between 1937 and 1947. It was an ambitious dramatisation of King Arthur's life and times - part pageant, part play, part cantata - written by D.G. Bridson. This colourful suite incorporates the Introduction, a dramatic Wild Dance, some of the music underscoring the scenes for Galahad and The Holy Grail, and two vivid battle scenes, ending with The Final Battle and Apotheosis.
King Arthur (scenes from a radio drama) was the first of 28 scores Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) composed for radio between 1937 and 1947. It was an ambitious dramatisation of King Arthur's life and times - part pageant, part play, part cantata - written by D.G. Bridson. This colourful suite incorporates the Introduction, a dramatic Wild Dance, some of the music underscoring the scenes for Galahad and The Holy Grail, and two vivid battle scenes, ending with The Final Battle and Apotheosis.
The third volume of the annotated selected letters of composer Benjamin Britten covers the years 1946-51, during which he wrote many of his best-known works, founded and developed the English Opera Group and the Aldeburgh Festival, and toured widely in Europe and the United States as a pianist and conductor. Correspondents include librettists Ronald Duncan (The Rape of Lucretia), Eric Crozier (Albert Herring, Saint Nicolas, The Little Sweep) and E. M. Forster (Billy Budd); conductor Ernest Ansermet and composer Lennox Berkeley; publishers Ralph Hawkes and Erwin Stein of Boosey & Hawkes; and the celebrated tenor Peter Pears, Britten's partner. Among friends in the United States are Christopher Isherwood, Elizabeth Mayer and Aaron Copland, and there is a significant meeting with Igor Stravinsky. This often startling and innovative period is vividly evoked by the comprehensive and scholarly annotations, which offer a wide range of detailed information fascinating for both the Britten specialist and the general reader. Donald Mitchell contributes a challenging introduction exploring the interaction of life and work in Britten's creativity, and an essay examining for the first time, through their correspondence, the complex relationship between the composer and the writer Edward Sackville-West.
A Midsummer Night's Dream was Benjamin Britten's seventh major opera and had its premiere at Aldeburgh in 1960. Britten and his partner Peter Pears prepared a condensed version of Shakespeare's much-loved comedy for the libretto, using (with the exception of a single line) only the original text. In this newly commissioned guide, Andrew Plant explores the genesis of the opera's composition, including passages of recently published material from Britten's own correspondence. Philip Reed examines the musical language of the opera and has prepared a detailed thematic guide, while David Nice outlines many of the different approaches to the work in productions that have taken place over the last forty years. An essay by Philip Brett discusses how the opera reflects the central issues in Britten's work. Finally, a unique article is included which Britten himself wrote for the Observer immediately preceding the work's premiere. The present edition also contains twentyfive black-and-white and colour photographs, the full libretto, a discography, DVD guide, bibliography and website guide. It will prove an invaluable companion to opera-goers wanting to increase their understanding and enjoyment of this magical work.
This is a double volume dedicated to two masterpieces by Benjamin Britten. While the 1945 premiere of Peter Grimes established Britten as a composer of international standing, Gloriana, which was composed for the coronation of Elizabeth II, has never enjoyed a comparable fame. The variety of mood, characterization and pace, in each, illustrates Britten's exceptional gift for theatre - a view borne out by the recollections of the artists who created the title roles, Peter Pears and Joan Cross. Commentaries on the scores reveal, for instance, how much the popular concert extracts (the 'Sea Interludes' from Peter Grimes and the 'Choral Dances' from Gloriana) gain from their context in the dramas. The libretti are particularly interesting: the essay by E.M. Forster - the inspiration for Peter Grimes - is reprinted here, and Michael Holroyd discusses Lytton Strachey's controversial Elizabeth and Essex - the source for Gloriana. In sum, this is a celebration of two works by the greatest opera composer of the second half of the twentieth century.
Libretto for the operetta Paul Bunyan, the story of the American folk hero follows the development of the American continent from virgin forest to civilization. It does so in a deliberately eclectic style. Spoken dialogue is interspersed with set numbers and interludes with narrative and guitar accompaniment. Although often light-hearted, it is a deeply serious, poetic and tender work.
In May 1939 Britten and Pears disembarked at Montreal at the start of their American visit, which was to be a period of intense musical activity and new personal relationships. At the same time, the relationship between Britten and Pears deepened into a partnership that was to endure for almost forty years. Their absence from England during the first years of the war led to sharp public comment and controversy, much of it documented here. On their return from America in 1942, hostility to their pacifist convictions and to their homosexuality resurfaced. Prejudice and subterfuge even affected the premiere of Peter Grimes in 1945, although it could not prevent the opera from being an unprecedented success. The letters in this second volume from the years 1939 to 1945 are among the most fascinating of the correspondence, and - supplemented by the editors' detailed commentary and by exhaustive contemporary documentation - offer a unique insight into American history, politics and culture during the Second World War.
Volume One of these remarkable letters and diaries opens with a letter from Britten aged nine to his formidable mother, Edith. Music is already at the centre of his life, and it accompanies him through prep and public school and then to London to the Royal College of Music, where the phenomenally gifted but inexperienced young composer is plunged into metropolitan life and makes influential new friends, among them W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood. This was a time of prodigious musical creativity, a growing awareness of his sexuality, and the dawning of his political convictions. Most importantly, during this period Britten met Peter Pears and established the musical and personal relationship that was to last a lifetime. Volume One comes to a close in May 1939, when Britten, accompanied by Pears, departs for North America. The letters and diaries in this illuminating first volume and its successor are supplemented by the editors' detailed commentary and by exhaustive contemporary documentation. Together they constitute a comprehensive portrait not only of the composer but of an age.
**ABRSM selected piece (Singing from2009): When you're feeling like expressing your affection (Britten) Not even summer yet (Britten) Cradle Song (Britten) If thou wilt ease thine heart (Britten)
Written in 1930 and lasting 7 minutes in total, these pieces are portraits of three of Britten's friends - John, Daphne and Michael, although they weren't publicly performed until 1989, when Sarah Briggs gave the premiere at the Chester Festival.
This book is exceptional amongst those that have appeared so far in this well-established series, in that it is largely written by those who worked with the composer and assisted him during the period in which the opera was composed and first put on the stage. It will thus remain a source of first-hand information on Britten's final operatic achievement. Donald Mitchell was Britten's publisher at the time of Death in Venice and his Introduction includes many personal observations on the genesis of the work. The latter part of the book contains essays by T. J. Reed and Patrick Carnegy on the libretto's source in Thomas Mann's novella and Philip Reed compares briefly Visconti's cinematic interpretation of the novella. The volume is richly illustrated with music examples, sketches and extracts from the autograph score, and pictures from the first production. It will make an essential reference work and indispensable companion for opera-goers, students and scholars alike.
These four cabaret songs, 'Tell me the truth about Love', 'Funeral Blues', 'Johnny' and 'Calypso' were written in the 1930's as part of Britten's fruitful friendship with W.H. Auden.
Vocal score for the operetta Paul Bunyan, the story of the American folk hero follows the development of the American continent from virgin forest to civilization. It does so in a deliberately eclectic style. Spoken dialogue is interspersed with set numbers and interludes with narrative and guitar accompaniment. Although often light-hearted, it is a deeply serious, poetic and tender work.