Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Benjamin Britten: New Perspectives on His Life and Work

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Benjamin Britten: New Perspectives on His Life and Work

Article excerpt

Benjamin Britten: New Perspectives on His Life and Work. Edited by Lucy Walker. (Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: The Boydell Press, 2009, Pp. xiii, 191. $90.00.)

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) is remembered for his choral, instrumental, and operatic works and as the co-founder of the English Opera Group and the Aldeburgh Festival. A Britten Study Day in April 2008 included the first public demonstration of the catalog and scholarly papers presented by current researchers. The essays in New Perspectives are revisions of those papers; Lucy Walker is an academic research officer at the Britten-Pears Foundation. This collection truly is a "new" addition to the volumes previously written on Britten. Many things have changed in the decade since Mervyn Cooke's TL· Cambridge Companion to Benjamin Britten (Cambridge, 1999); many issues that clouded our perspective on Britten's work, his sexuality and pacifism, for example, seem less controversial today and are handled more objectively in New Perspectives. Also, Walker's collection includes writers either new to Britten scholarship or new to scholarly research and writing (2).

New Perspectives includes a broad range of topics, all written with intelligence and passion. "Going Behind Britten's Back" by Colin Matthews, considers posthumous publication and/or performance of Britten's compositions. If Britten chose not to release them to the public, do modem scholars and performers have a right to play or study them? This is a big question; as Sharon Choa wrote in "Performing Early Britten," the Thematic Catalogue lists over seven hundred distinct works of juvenilia (17). Several authors discuss Britten's mature works and how they reflect his faith, friendships, sexuality, and pacifism. Brian McMahon proposes that it was pacifism that brought Britten back to England during the World War Two, and that Britten returned because of his "human frailty and a strong desire to avoid personal disruption" (183). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.