A Musical Eye

July 2013
220 colour illustrations
156 pages
31x24 cm
ISBN: 9781843838869
Format: Paperback
Boydell Press
BISAC ART020000, MUS006000

A Musical Eye

The Visual World of Britten and Pears

Edited by Judith LeGrove

This heavily illustrated publication considers the importance of art and design in the lives of composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears.
Anyone who has visited the Red House in Aldeburgh will have been struck by the range and quality of art collected by Benjamin Britten and, in particular, by Peter Pears. A Musical Eye is illustrated with more than 200 works from the Britten-Pears collection and considers more widely the importance of art and design in their lives and work. There is also a comprehensive checklist of over 300 paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures in the collection with details including size, medium, date and purchase price.

The book is edited by former Britten-Pears Foundation Curator Judith LeGrove, who also explains how the collection evolved and provides a checklist of key works. Colin Matthews, who worked with Britten and is now BPF's Director of Music, provides an introduction, while the current Curator at The Red House, Caroline Harding, uses correspondence in the BPF archive to explore the patronage by Britten and Pears of a wide range of artists.

Julian Potter writes on the friendship between his mother, the artist Mary Potter, and Britten. Broadening the scope of the visual arts, architectural historian Alan Powers considers the buildings commissioned or modified by Britten and Bloomsbury; Britten's work for film; Sidney Nolan's artistic responses to Britten's music; and the designs for Britten's stage works, most notably by John Piper.


This fascinating collection ... provides a rich and timely conspectus of the synaesthetic background to the life and work of Britten and Pears ... I cannot recommend this book too highly to anyone with the least interest in Britten or indeed the visual arts, let alone both: it is thoughtful and perceptive, authoritative yet sensitive, enlightening, stimulating and produced to a befittingly attractive technical standard. SPIRITED MAGAZINE, December 2013