Snapshot of History: Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten (Photo credit: blackbird76)

#AceHistoryNews says Benjamin Britten (1913–76) was an English composer, conductor and pianist, and a central figure in 20th-century British classical music. His wide compositional range includes opera, orchestral, choral, solo vocal, chamber, instrumental and film music. He showed talent from an early age, and first came to public attention with the choral work A Boy Was Born in 1934. His best-known works include the operas Peter Grimes (1945) and Billy Budd (1951), the War Requiem (1962) and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (1945). Recurring themes in his operas are the struggle of an outsider against a hostile society, and the corruption of innocence. He wrote copiously for children and amateur performers, including the opera Noye’s Fludde, a Missa Brevis, and the song collection Friday Afternoons. Britten often composed with particular performers in mind, most importantly his personal and professional partner, the tenor Peter Pears, with whom he co-founded the annual Aldeburgh Festival in 1948; the pair were responsible for the creation of its Snape Malting’s concert hall in 1967.

In 1976 Britten became the first composer to be awarded a life peerage.

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