Introducing Benjamin Britten

feat. the Master himself

In this week’s collection we are going to introduce you to Edward Benjamin Britten, the English composer, conductor and pianist felt by many to be the central figure of 20th Century British classical music.

Some of his most famous works you’ve already heard in previous collections, such as his opera Peter Grimes and his War Requiem. Britten wrote a wide range of orchestral, choral, solo vocal, chamber and instru-mental music as well as some scores for films. He also took a great interest in composing music for children and for amateur performers, and often wrote with particular performers in mind. His most frequent and important muse was his personal and professional partner, the tenor Peter Pears. Pears was Britten’s lover for 39 years, though for most of that time it was a des-perately dangerous life to live. It's hard for us to imagine now, how repressive the atmosphere surrounding homosexuality was in the 1950s. The enforcement of draconian anti-homosexuality laws resulted in a witch-hunts of gay men, prison sentences and forced hormone therapy. Indeed, Britten, after being visited by police in 1953, was so shaken by the incident that he suggested that Pears should enter into a sham marriage to dispel suspicion. Despite the circumstances, both lived and worked together from 1957 until Britten's death in 1976 and in this collection you will hear some of Britten’s finest compositions.

Curation: Lukas Krohn-Grimberghe

Speaker: David Hall

Visual Art: Philipp Nicolai Hertel

  • Introducing Benjamin Britten

  • An introduction to Britten — The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra op. 34

  • The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra op. 34 Preview Only

    Benjamin Britten

    Richard Hickox, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra1993
  • An introduction to Britten — Double Concerto

  • Double Concerto Preview Only

    Benjamin Britten

    Pieter Schoeman, Alexander Zemtsov, Vladimir Jurowski, London Philharmonic Orchestra2006
  • An introduction to Britten — Chorale on an old French carol

  • Chorale on an old French carol Preview Only

    Benjamin Britten

    The Britten Singers1991
  • An introduction to Britten — Cello Suite No. 1 op. 72

  • Cello Suite No. 1 op. 72 Preview Only

    Benjamin Britten

    Alban Gerhardt2003
  • An introduction to Britten — Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge op. 10

  • Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge op. 10 Preview Only

    Benjamin Britten

    Vladimir Jurowski, London Philharmonic Orchestra2008

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