My Beloved Man

My Beloved Man

The Letters of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears

Edited by Vicki P. Stroeher, Nicholas Clark, Jude Brimmer


Boydell Press



'It's a life of the two of us.' The complete surviving correspondence between Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears.
'To read these letters is to climb up a wall and peer into the secret garden of two giants.' From the Foreword by FIONA SHAW

This volume comprises the complete surviving correspondence between Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. The 365 letters written throughout their 39-year relationship are here brought together and published, as Pears intended, for the first time. While the correspondence provides valuable evidence of the development of Britten's works, more significant is the insight into his relationship with Pears and their day-to-day life together. Entertaining to read, domestic and intimate, the letters provide glimpses of cultural and artistic life in the twentieth century, including pacifism and conscientious objection, critical assessments of music and other artists, transport and communications development in the twentieth century, the 'Aldeburgh corpses', art collecting, gossip, everyday life in an English country house, the development of the Aldeburgh Festival, performance practice in early music, looking after dachshunds, travel, and a host of other topics. Above all, when read together, Britten and Pears's letters allow the clearest possible look 'behind the scenes' of one of the most productive creative partnerships of the twentieth century.

VICKI P. STROEHER is Professor of Music History at Marshall University where she is also Coordinator of the Music History & Literature area.

NICHOLAS CLARK is the Librarian at the Britten-Pears Foundation at The Red House, Britten and Pears's home in Aldeburgh, Suffolk.

JUDE BRIMMER is an Archivist at the Britten-Pears Foundation.


June 2016
10 colour, 46 black and white illustrations
488 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Aldeburgh Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781783271085
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC BIO004000, MUS006000, SOC012000
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Table of Contents

Foreword by Fiona Shaw
Introduction: Britten and Pears's 'personal and consistent' correspondence
'When I am not with you..': August 1937 to January 1941
'My life is inextricably bound up with yours': May 1942 to November 1944
'I don't know why we should be so lucky, in all this misery': July 1945 to April 1949
'You are potentially the greatest singer alive': Late 1949 to January 1954
'Why shouldn't I recognise that you are such a large part of my life. ': May 1954 to December 1959
'Far away as you are, at least I feel there is contact!': January 1960 to March 1968
'It is you who have given me everything': January 1970 to June 1975
'My days are not empty': January to November 1976
List of Works
Select Bibliography


It is difficult not to be moved by the personal and artistic courage of the relationship of which these letters, and the accompanying texts, present such a vivid...complete, picture. FONTES ARTIS MUSICAE Published here in full for the first time, these letters bear witness to a relationship in which love and creativity and romantic and professional lives are so tightly entwined that to try and separate them would make a nonsense of both. THE SPECTATOR

'To read these letters is to climb up a wall and peer into the secret garden of two giants.' From domestic dramas and dachshunds to ideas for the Aldeburgh Festival, a new book captures the lives of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears in their own words. (...) While it does feel as if we're steaming open the envelopes and reading the letters while the house is still quiet, the editors of the book make it clear both men wanted their story to be told. EAST ANGLIAN DAILY TIMES

(...) These are primarily communications by two loving partners who wish to share quotidian details (...) in order to bridge the gap as best they can during times of separation. (...) Still, there are occasional insights into Pears's musicianship, and particularly his and Britten's profound admiration of Bach. BBC MUSIC AUTUMN

These letters are important. . . (and) have never had quite the impact they do here. TELEGRAPH

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