Benjamin Britten

November 2009
8 black and white illustrations
205 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Aldeburgh Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781843835165
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press

Benjamin Britten

New Perspectives on His Life and Work

Edited by Lucy Walker

An essay collection which examines Britten's juvenilia, influences such as Shostakovich and Verdi, his opera Owen Wingrave and a libretto written by Australian novelist Patrick White with the hope of a future collaboration.
Benjamin Britten: New Perspectives on his Life and Work reveals the extent to which Britten scholarship is reaching outside the confines of Anglo-American criticism. The volume engages with juvenilia and other orchestral works from the 1920s and examines a broad range of influences on Britten, including the works of Shostakovich and Verdi, the poetry of Ovid, and the cinema. Among his operatic works the dramatic qualities of Owen Wingrave are discussed through a close study of Piper's libretto and we witness the genesis of a libretto written by Australian novelist Patrick White and submitted to Britten with the hope of a future collaboration. The volume uncovers the generally hostile reception Britten's operas received in Paris until around the 1990s. Britten's status as 'outsider' in both the USA and in his own country when he returned in 1942 is discussed: the possibility is that Britten was becoming nervous of the gathering US involvement in the war and the real chance he may be called up to serve in the US forces is also discussed here.

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Table of Contents

Introduction - Lucy Walker
Going Behind Britten's Back - Colin Matthews
Performing Early Britten: Signs of Promise and Achievement in Poemes Nos 4 and 5 (1927) - Sharon Choa
Shostakovich's Fourteenth Symphony: A Response to War Requiem? -
Six Metamorphoses After Ovid and the Influence of Classical Mythology on Benjamin Britten - George Caird
Britten and the Cinematic Frame - David Crilly
Storms, Laughter and Madness: Verdian 'Numbers' and Generic Allusions in Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes - Jane Brandon
Dramatic Invention in Myfanwy Piper's Libretto for Owen Wingrave - Frances Spalding
'The Minstrel Boy to the War is Gone': Father Figures and Fighting Sons in Britten's Owen Wingrave - Arne Muus
Made You Look! Children in Salome and Death in Venice - J.P.E. Harper-Scott
From the Borough to Fraser Island - Claire Seymour
Britten and France; or the Late Emergence of a Remarkable Lyric Universe - Maena Py
Why did Britten Return to Wartime England? - Brian McMahon


This book contains substantive discussion of one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. It is a solid contribution to the libraries of those who admire the composer and his work. ANGELICAN AND EPISCOPAL HISTORY

These essays should spark discussion among scholars and fans of Britten. BOOK NEWS
Walker's book... paves the way to a freer, more balanced view of the man and musician. CLASSICAL MUSIC
Read and reflect, discuss and argue: [the contributors] are mostly new to Britten studies... and it must be a healthy sign if they are generating controversial ideas. It is also good to see two writers from continental Europe... Britten was an internationalist and it is surely right that Britten studies should be too. GRAMOPHONE
It is [the] critrical distance, and the absence of for-or-against defensiveness which has often scarred Britten scholarship, that distinguishes Walker's volume. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

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