Benjamin Britten

Britten, Benjamin, Baron Britten of Aldeburgh

Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten of Aldeburgh, 1913–76, English composer. Britten's most characteristic expression is found in his vocal music, much of which was written for his partner, the tenor Sir Peter Pears. His many song cycles and choral works include A Boy Was Born (1933) and A Ceremony of Carols (1942). Britten's great War Requiem (1962), setting the bitter war poems of Wilfred Owen, was first performed at the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral, built beside the ruins of the old, destroyed during World War II. In his operas, which include Paul Bunyan (1941), Peter Grimes (1945), The Rape of Lucretia (1946), The Beggar's Opera (1948), Billy Budd (1951), The Turn of the Screw (1954), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1960), and Death in Venice (1973), he displayed a sensitivity to text and a fondness for variation techniques, dynamic dissonance, and the use of ground basses. Britten's instrumental works, some composed when he was a youth, display considerable technical brilliance and colorful orchestration. A notable and popular example, The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1946), written for a film, is based on a theme by Purcell. He was created a life peer in 1976.

See selected letters ed. by P. Reed and M. Cooke (6 vol., 1991–2012); biographies by I. Holst (2d ed. 1970), E. W. White (new ed. 1970), H. Carpenter (1992), P. Kildea (2013), and N. Powell (2013); studies by P. Evans (1979), L. Walker (2009), H. Wiebe (2012), and M. Bostridge, ed. (2013).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Benjamin Britten: Selected full-text books and articles

Music and Sexuality in Britten: Selected Essays By Philip Brett; George E. Haggerty University of California Press, 2006
Britten By Christopher Headington Holmes & Meier, 1982
Studying Britten: The Current Landscape of Published Britten Scholarship By Manton, Jonathan Notes, Vol. 70, No. 2, December 2013
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
"How a Child's Mind Works": Assessing the "Value" of Britten's Juvenilia By Walker, Lucy Notes, Vol. 64, No. 4, June 2008
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Britten's Musical Language By Philip Rupprecht Cambridge University Press, 2001
Tribute to Benjamin Britten on His Fiftieth Birthday By Benjamin Britten; Anthony Gishford Faber and Faber, 1963
Revealing Masks: Exotic Influences and Ritualized Performance in Modernist Music Theater By W. Anthony Sheppard University of California Press, 2001
Librarian's tip: Chap. 9 "Britten's Parables"
The New Oxford History of Music By Martin Cooper Oxford University Press, vol.10, 1974
Librarian's tip: "Benjamin Britten" begins on p. 543
The Curious Case of Benjamin Britten: A Century after His Death, the Music of Gay Composer Benjamin Britten Is Very Much Alive By Rudolph, Christopher The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), No. 1066, April-May 2013
Benjamin Britten: A Bio-Bibliography By Stewart R. Craggs Greenwood, 2002
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