Knowing Britten
Title Details

208 Pages

19.8 x 12.9 cm

42 b/w illus Illustrations

Imprint: Bittern Press

Knowing Britten

by Steuart Bedford

With Christopher Gillett

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
  • Reviews
Knowing Britten is a vivid and insightful account of Steuart Bedford's long association with both Britten the man and his music.
The conductor and pianist Steuart Bedford (1939-2021) could not remember a time when he did not know Benjamin Britten. His mother, Lesley Duff, sang with the English Opera Group in the premieres of The Rape of Lucretia and Albert Herring in the late 1940s, and the whole family was closely involved with Britten and Peter Pears for many years. Following his music studies and time on the music staff at Glyndebourne, Bedford joined the English Opera Group, gradually becoming Britten's trusted surrogate conductor. As the composer's health began to fail, he took on responsibility for the premiere performances of Britten's final opera, Death in Venice, including its US premiere at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and the dramatic cantata Phaedra among others. He served as an Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival, 1974-98, recorded the Collins Classics series of Britten works and in 2013, Britten's centenary year, conducted 'Grimes on the Beach' for the Aldeburgh Festival.
Knowing Britten is a vivid and insightful account of Bedford's long association with both Britten the man and his music.
List of Illustrations
1 My mind beats on
2 A thirst, a leaping, wild unrest, a deep desire
3 Should I give up the fruitless struggle with the word?
4 So be it
5 What lies in wait for me here?
6 My head is heavy, my eyelids ache
7 I must go elsewhere, I must find a clearer sky, a fresher air
8 How much better to live, not words but beauty, to exist in it, and of it
9 The power of beauty sets me free
10 Yet I am driven on
11 O voluptuous days, O the joy I suffer
12 So the moments pass
13 And now, Phaedrus, I will go
No epilogue, I pray you, for your play needs no excuse
Acknowledgements
Index

STEUART JOHN RUDOLF BEDFORD OBE (31 July 1939 - 15 February 2021) was an English orchestral and opera conductor and pianist.

"Playing Janáček as a student with Steuart, a man who seemed to be music from his fingertips to his toes, inspired me to become an opera conductor. This fascinating book reveals his typically selfless devotion to serving a great composer, and is a window into his own personality, immensely strong but paradoxically never wanting to draw attention to himself. An enthralling read!" Sir Simon Rattle
"Steuart Bedford's long and important association with Benjamin Britten made it almost a duty that he should write down his memories, which are vivid, and as full of insight as one might expect. But he has been especially blessed in his Boswell. Christopher Gillett proves an expert siphon, forming and shaping Bedford's recollections into a book unique in its form: a brilliant and often witty duet between memoirist and amanuensis that pirouettes back and forth through the decades like Tadzio on the Lido. Essential for devotees of Britten, this book should also fascinate and entertain anyone who cares about music, life, and the art of memoir." Oliver Soden

Paperback

9780957167223

May 2021

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£18.00 / $24.95

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Title Details

208 Pages

1.98 x 1.29 cm

42 b/w illus Illustrations

Imprint: Bittern Press