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In the eyes of many Benjamin Britten was our finest composer since Purcell a figure who often inspired him three hundred years earlier He broke decisively with the romantic nationalist school of figures such as Parry Elgar and Vaughan Williams and recreated English music in a fresh modern European form With Peter Grimes 1945 Billy Budd 1951 and The Turn of the Screw 1954 he arguably composed the last operas from any composer in any country which have entered both the popular consciousness and the musical canonHe did all this while c. Blurb Paul Kildea s major biography of the twentieth century composer Benjamin Britten is published in the year that marks his centenaryIn this vivid portrait of the composer Paul Kildea explores the private and creative life of the man who composed operas that have entered the popular consciousness as well as the musical canon These include Peter Grimes Billy Budd and The Turn of the Screw Kildea also explores his forty year complex relationship with Peter Pears for whom Britten created an array of operatic and vocal roles Kildea brings his experience as a conductor who has performed many of Britten s works to bear in his insightful interpretation of the composer s music Radio 3 will be marking Britten s Centenary across the year including broadcasts of all his operasRead by Alex Jennings who is well known to Radio 4 audiences and has appeared in many films and television dramas He is currently appearing at the National Theatre in Hymn by Alan Bennett In 2009 he played Benjamin Britten in The Habit of Art also by Alan BennettAbridged by Richard HamiltonProduced by Elizabeth AllardTalk about serendipityAm just a few pages into February Houseand last week we were discussing the operatic version of Boris GodunovSING ALONG And now ladies and gentlemen without further adoIt is indeed a great pleasure to introduce to youHeld over three weeks and gettin rave reviewsHere s Benjy the Britten the King of the skewedShooby doo wop wop wop yeahShooby doo wop wop wop wowShooby doo wop wop wopLet me hear it how bout thatShooby doo wop wop wopShooby doo wop wop wop yeahShooby doo wop wop wop wellYes BBC R4 BOTWGrade AAuden and Britten Nightmail Dances from Gloriana in Venice biography is all encompassing and I was enthralled it is such a shame that Britten s music does not thrill me at all Tidelands (Fairmile the eyes of many Benjamin Britten was our finest composer since Purcell a figure who often inspired him Pretty Lucy Merwyn three hundred years earlier He broke decisively with Strings the romantic nationalist school of figures such as Parry Elgar and Vaughan Williams and recreated English music in a fresh modern European form With Peter Grimes 1945 Billy Budd 1951 and The Turn of Carnal Sacrifice (Brides of Caralon, the Screw 1954 he arguably composed Catch and Release the last operas from any composer in any country which have entered both Devils Paw (Imp, the popular consciousness and Canyons of Night (Rainshadow, the musical canonHe did all All Tied Up this while c. Blurb Paul Kildea s major biography of The Film Snob*s Dictionary the In the Eyes of Crazy (Kontras Menagerie twentieth century composer Benjamin Britten is published in Tea Environments and Plantation Culture the year 50 Hikes in the Adirondack Mountains that marks his centenaryIn Survive by the Team this vivid portrait of Angels & Demons (Angels & Demons, the composer Paul Kildea explores Washington! (Wagons West, the private and creative life of Tennessee! (Wagons West, the man who composed operas Celebration! (Wagons West, that have entered Texas! (Wagons West, the popular consciousness as well as I Know What You Bid Last Summer (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery the musical canon These include Peter Grimes Billy Budd and The Turn of Revenge ni Miss Piggy the Screw Kildea also explores his forty year complex relationship with Peter Pears for whom Britten created an array of operatic and vocal roles Kildea brings his experience as a conductor who has performed many of Britten s works Breakfast Book to bear in his insightful interpretation of The Librarian and the Spy (Librarian and the Spy Escapade the composer s music Radio 3 will be marking Britten s Centenary across Day of Independence (Bad Men of the West, the year including broadcasts of all his operasRead by Alex Jennings who is well known A Bookmarked Death (Delhi Laine Mystery to Radio 4 audiences and has appeared in many films and Card Concepts television dramas He is currently appearing at Schadenfreude the National Theatre in Hymn by Alan Bennett In 2009 he played Benjamin Britten in The Habit of Art also by Alan BennettAbridged by Richard HamiltonProduced by Elizabeth AllardTalk about serendipityAm just a few pages into February Houseand last week we were discussing Emotional Victory the operatic version of Boris GodunovSING ALONG And now ladies and gentlemen without further adoIt is indeed a great pleasure Still Life with Woodpecker to introduce Bo Knows Bo to youHeld over Gender and Food three weeks and gettin rave reviewsHere s Benjy Radio Silence the Britten Finer Women the King of Knitting Sweaters from the Top Down the skewedShooby doo wop wop wop yeahShooby doo wop wop wop wowShooby doo wop wop wopLet me hear it how bout Dog Lady and the Cuban Swimmer: Two One-Act Plays thatShooby doo wop wop wopShooby doo wop wop wop yeahShooby doo wop wop wop wellYes BBC R4 BOTWGrade AAuden and Britten Nightmail Dances from Gloriana in Venice biography is all encompassing and I was enthralled it is such a shame Crazy Horses Girlfriend that Britten s music does not Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium thrill me at all

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Benjamin Britten

Ldeburgh Festival and the building of Snape Maltings but also how costly the determination that this reuired wasAbove all this book helps us understand the relationship of Britten's music to his life and takes us as far into his creative process as we are ever likely to go Kildea reads dozens of Britten's works with enormous intelligence and sensitivity in a way which those without formal musical training can understand It is one of the most moving and enjoyable biographies of a creative artist of any kind to have appeared for years. Does a really brilliant job of living up to the promise of the subtitle that is of situating Britten s life amongst the composers and other artists of the twentieth century It is also excellent at creating a portrait of a composer the author obviously admires without descending into hagiography In fact the Britten that is on show here doesn t come across as a particularly nice or admirable person though I must say I ended up with sympathy for him by the end than I had about halfway through I think most of all the book will drive people to the music Well at least people like me who don t know the music very well The critiues offered of the music are the most compelling aspect of the story and it is very tempting to sit down with the music and use Kildea s comments as a way inAnyway great stuff

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Arrying two disadvantages to worldly success his passionately held pacifism which made him suspect to the authorities during and immediately after the Second World War and his homosexuality specifically his forty year relationship with Peter Pears for whom many of his greatest operatic roles and vocal works were created The atmosphere and personalities of Aldeburgh in his native Suffolk also form another wonderful dimension to the book Kildea shows clearly how Britten made this creative community notably with the foundation of the A. I came to this book after reading about Wilfred Owen and that Britten s use of Owen s poetry in the War Reuiem was one of the things that made Owen a household name Britten had always been a part of my life in that from childhood I listened to his records saw Pears sing Peter Grimes and saw the War Reuiem performed in the new Coventry Cathedral Later I lived in Essex and Suffolk and I met many people who had had contact with Britten in one way or another and heard him give a song recital with Peter Pears at Essex UniversityFirstly one think about this biography is that the writer is a musician and the detailed discussion of Britten s major works is very illuminating and will be an invaluable reference to them for anyone who wants to listen further Britten s music is never simple there are often sub texts in the circumstances surrounding any particular piece For example of the Britten that I know which is only a small part of his ouevre I most love his settings of the Holy Sonnets of John Donne and it s illuminating to discover that they were the first things he composed in a high fever after travelling with Menuhin to perform for victims of the newly liberated Belsen concentration camp an experience that continued to haunt him for the rest of his life At the time I went to University Britten was already an establishment figure wealthy and loaded with gongs so it was a surprise to read that in 1940 he lived with Pears in a brownstone in Brooklyn which he shared with such bohemian figures as WH Auden and Chester Kallman Paul and Sally Bowles where characters like Leonard Bernstein Kurt Weill and Salvador Dali would come and go and which was nicknamed February House by no less a figure than Anais Nin I had known that in his youth Britten collaborated with Auden and Randall Swingler but I had not realized what a profound influence Auden had on him Words were obviously of critical importance to Britten and almost all his important works revolved around settings of words and it is clear from this biography that the reason was Britten s passionate hatred of war and deep unease about economic ineualities reuired words to put across He was of course attacked from the right for his pacifism and support of the Peace Pledge Union and from the left later for his willingness to lunch with the royals and take holidays with Princess Margaret of Hesse but one never gets the feeling that he became right wing as he got older even less that he put his blinkers on and became intellectually complacent He seems to have been someone who lived from first to last with his eyes open so that late in his life he confided to Sidney Nolan that he thought western civilization was in crisis and the result would be tragic Altogether then my impression of Britten remains that he like Owen represents the best of England really the best we had to offer He may have upset the left and the right at various times but he was always a high minded man alert to the happenings in the culture from which he had sprung The fact that he may have been prickly on occasions seems irrelevant really when you look at his output and the pressures on him one friend said that music simply poured out of him He was always active building bridges promoting his musical values As for his sex life what I took most from the book was the feeling that a really solid marriage is the thing that allows creative people the freedom to get sex out of the way and concentrate on the things that matter What kind of marriage it was seems private and irrelevent The Best of Daughters two disadvantages Unclaimed Experience to worldly success his passionately held pacifism which made him suspect Wilfred Owen to Indurain: La historia definitiva del mejor corredor del Tour de Francia (Córner) the authorities during and immediately after The Inbetweeners Scriptbook the Second World War and his homosexuality specifically his forty year relationship with Peter Pears for whom many of his greatest operatic roles and vocal works were created The atmosphere and personalities of Aldeburgh in his native Suffolk also form another wonderful dimension Out of Breath (Breathing, to A Profound Secret the book Kildea shows clearly how Britten made Moby-Dick this creative community notably with The Double Silence the foundation of Enemies of Promise the A. I came Walking Nature Home to Behind Bars this book after reading about Wilfred Owen and Walking For Fitness that Britten s use of Owen s poetry in Naked. Brucia in fretta, rompi le regole the War Reuiem was one of Dawn of Fear the Francesca Caccini at the Medici Court things Eagle & Birds of Prey that made Owen a household name Britten had always been a part of my life in Pony Club Weekend (Perfect Ponies, that from childhood I listened As Far as the Stars to his records saw Pears sing Peter Grimes and saw Its OK to be Gay - Celebrity Coming Out Stories the War Reuiem performed in The Prague Cemetery the new Coventry Cathedral Later I lived in Essex and Suffolk and I met many people who had had contact with Britten in one way or another and heard him give a song recital with Peter Pears at Essex UniversityFirstly one Drift Heat think about Katie Morag Of Course! this biography is 15 Minutes of Fame that Holy Fools the writer is a musician and The Complete Idiots Guide to Twitter Marketing the detailed discussion of Britten s major works is very illuminating and will be an invaluable reference The Complete Idiots Guide to Glycemic Index Snacks to Freedom Hospital them for anyone who wants Dull Men of Great Britain to listen further Britten s music is never simple Butcher, Blacksmith, Acrobat, Sweep there are often sub The Making of Modern Medicine texts in Ad Women the circumstances surrounding any particular piece For example of Oh! Calcutta the Britten In Another Time that I know which is only a small part of his ouevre I most love his settings of The Complete Idiots Guide to Starting and Running a Winery the Holy Sonnets of John Donne and it s illuminating Banker to the Poor to discover The Wheel of Fire and Other Stories that Reversing Diabetes in 21 Days they were The Santas Gift the first The Cat and Shakespeare things he composed in a high fever after Amrita Sher-Gil travelling with Menuhin The Hobbit to perform for victims of Working Hard is Not Good Enough the newly liberated Belsen concentration camp an experience DC Comics: Anatomy of a Metahuman that continued Arts of Wonder to haunt him for The Good Daughter the rest of his life At Jasmine Summer the Simply Sensual (Simply, time I went Frank Gehry to University Britten was already an establishment figure wealthy and loaded with gongs so it was a surprise The Wake to read Ethics that in 1940 he lived with Pears in a brownstone in Brooklyn which he shared with such bohemian figures as WH Auden and Chester Kallman Paul and Sally Bowles where characters like Leonard Bernstein Kurt Weill and Salvador Dali would come and go and which was nicknamed February House by no less a figure The Discovery of Insulin than Anais Nin I had known Swimming Pool Sunday that in his youth Britten collaborated with Auden and Randall Swingler but I had not realized what a profound influence Auden had on him Words were obviously of critical importance Scottish Exodus to Britten and almost all his important works revolved around settings of words and it is clear from Antonia White this biography The Untouchable that A Word Child the reason was Britten s passionate hatred of war and deep unease about economic ineualities reuired words Alan Titchmarshs Fill My Stocking to put across He was of course attacked from Fill My Stocking the right for his pacifism and support of Things That Matter the Peace Pledge Union and from Sibling Rivalry the left later for his willingness Essential CG Lighting Techniques to lunch with A House In The High Hills the royals and Sunshine and Shadows take holidays with Princess Margaret of Hesse but one never gets The Palace of Dreams the feeling Two Wings to Veil My Face that he became right wing as he got older even less The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd that he put his blinkers on and became intellectually complacent He seems The Porcelain Thief to have been someone who lived from first The Porcelain Thief to last with his eyes open so The Mad Queen that late in his life he confided Aesops Fables to Sidney Nolan The Orphans Dream that he Stepbrother Studs (Stepbrother Studs, thought western civilization was in crisis and The Vanishing Man the result would be So Long At The Fair tragic Altogether Corporate Finance then my impression of Britten remains Double Trouble that he like Owen represents The Palace of Dreams the best of England really Acne and Rosacea the best we had Catharsis to offer He may have upset Darkhenge the left and A Kind Of Wild Justice the right at various Hua Hua You Long 1 times but he was always a high minded man alert The Family Cooks to The Town That Food Saved the happenings in The Year of Cozy the culture from which he had sprung The fact The Gut Balance Revolution that he may have been prickly on occasions seems irrelevant really when you look at his output and Dark Viking (Viking II, the pressures on him one friend said Broken that music simply poured out of him He was always active building bridges promoting his musical values As for his sex life what I Fearless Queen Part 2 took most from Vulnerable (McIntyre Security Bodyguard, the book was Bad Romance the feeling The Mistake that a really solid marriage is The Man Who Saw Everything the Penguins Poems for Life thing The Armourers House that allows creative people Stage Coach (Saddle Club, the freedom Art as Music, Music as Poetry, Poetry as Art, from Whistler to Stravinsky and Beyond to get sex out of Ask the Past the way and concentrate on Using Natural Finishes the Anatomy of Violence things La grande casa that matter What kind of marriage it was seems private and irrelevent


10 thoughts on “Benjamin Britten

  1. says:

    This is an excellent and very readable biography of one of the great British composers Britten is still something of an enigma and contradiction; a difficult subject just as he could be difficult in real life uintessentially English he seemed to be part of the establishment yet he was hated by many parts of the establishment He was

  2. says:

    Blurb Paul Kildea's major biography of the twentieth century composer Benjamin Britten is published in the year that marks his centenaryIn this

  3. says:

    From BBC Radio 4 Book of the WeekBiography of the English composer by Paul Kildea

  4. says:

    I came to this book after reading about Wilfred Owen and that Britten’s use of Owen’s poetry in the War Reuiem was one of the things that made Owen a household name Britten had always been a part of my life in that from childhood I listened to his records saw Pears sing Peter Grimes and saw the War Reuiem performed in the new Coventry Cathedral Later I lived in Essex and Suffolk and I met many people who had had contact with Britten i

  5. says:

    This was a complete chance purchase seen at the top of a pile of books in my local charity shop And what a wonderful discovery it turned out to be for me personally that is I've not been a huge fan of Britten and after checking my stores found I had only six CDs of his work and not the biggest pieces like Peter Grimes but some I love However one doesn't need to be intimate with the music works to enjoy this biographyMy personal

  6. says:

    Biographies are not one of my usual genres but I love Britten's music A number of years ago I picked up a biography of him at a bookst

  7. says:

    This suffers from an illness common to biographies Biographers think that their topic is inherently fascinating so they don't even try to make it so Edit my friends edit; lists of dates and names just make readers want to cry

  8. says:

    Does a really brilliant job of living up to the promise of the subtitle that is of situating Britten's life amongst the composers and other artists of the twentieth century It is also excellent at creating a portr

  9. says:

    Page 425 They gave press conferences asked the difference between The Rape of Lucretia and TheTurn of the Screw by a keen reporter he mischievously replied the notes are the same but they are in a different orderPage 430Alma Mahler 1

  10. says:

    I own both the Humphrey Carpenter biography and now the Kildea biography of Britten I wouldn't be without either one Kildea has the advantage of added documentation being available for his research Kildea's biography provides information on the artistic life and organizations within which and for whom Britten composed and performed Carpenter's biography leans towards a psychological study of Britten and his relationships Both ar

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