Definitely one of the greatest composers of the mid C20th. One of the greatest pieces written for string orchestra ever were the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, composed when he was in his twenties. This piece, first performed at the Salzburg Festival, took Europe by storm and established him as one of the most popular contemporary composers.
A relatively little known work which he only wrote in his teens was the Simple Symphony. Another interesting and comparatively mature work for string orchestra from someone so young.
I have recently acquired the four sea interludes from Peter Grimes Op. 33A and upon listening to it, it is not hard to draw comparisons between it and Arvo Part's Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten. Especially the way both employ bells. There's a really interesting synergy there, just thought I'd mention it. Has anyone else noticed this similarity?
Egad, I just finished watching The Turn of the Screw over youtube... he really knew how to finish his operas, doesn't he? I'm still speechless from the sheer power of the ending!
Lesser known (though deserved to be heard far more often) is the first of his three church parables, Curlew River. It is mesmerizing and, in the end, very emotionally powerful as well!
You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.
I'm just starting to appreciate Britten, but as always I come through the orchestral door first, then eventually listen to other works.
I have bought many different recordings, so I look forward to taking the plunge and discovering this composer's music.
Brittens music snuck up on me. I liked his music but it wasn't until I was sorting my CD's I realized I have several CD's of his music. The sea interludes and the simple symphony are personal favorites.
The serenade for Tenor horn and strings sounds amazing though I find it hard to take the songs he wrote for Peter Piers seriously after hearing a wickedly accurate parody by Dudley Moore.
Anyone have idea how long can take performance of complete The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra?
I suppose others have summed it up pretty well - Britten was a great all-rounder. He composed some of the best works of the last century in most genres.
& from what I've heard, a very influential conductor as well, bringing people's attention to many contemporary works with his Aldeburgh Festival. Indeed, he would conduct many of the first Western performances of Shostakovich's music...
Last edited by Mirror Image; Jul-03-2009 at 08:33.
Where to begin? First of all, dear mastro, thank you for Billy Budd! It was the first modern (that is, "after-Turandot") opera I've heard, and instant love. It's my favourite now - even Don Giovanni and the Ring can't beat it. And thank you for making me like tenors. Your tenors, of course - I still prefer lower voices over every other tenor type.
And thank you for your beautiful song cycles. And how you painted nature, especially sea, with music. And your problematic, non-conventional themes. Anyone tired of the "tenor and baritone killing each other over the soprano" scheme would find them refreshing.
May God keep shouting Wagnerians far from Grimes. I love Wagnerians - in their own realm.
And please, please, opera directors, let Russian or Italian basses try Claggart! I'd have some candidates - Petrenko and Silvestrelli to begin with. Melville said he had some sort of accent. So it's canon...
I'd be grateful for a good biography too. Which would handle your private life as natural thing, and not a scandal. (But neither lying about it.) And critics who don't like Pears' voice are simply prejudiced and snobs. It was beautiful.
I have a fair representation of Britten including the War Requiem, the Cello Concerto, several choral pieces and song cycles... but as much as I love opera, I'm somewhat mortified to admit that I have yet to pick up on an opera by Britten although several candidates are sitting on my wish list. And yes Peter Pears did have a marvelous voice; his recording of Schubert's Winterreise is a necessity.
Well, to like him, I think BB is the best. Grimes is a great opera, but it's hard to identify with a workaholic madman who treats his apprentices badly.
BB has more "traditional" characters - the Parsifal-type innocent blonde and the Hagen-type evil. And the music is maybe the most melodic. There are some tunes one can whistle after about 2-3 hearing. Big arias, big chorus scenes and a lot of drama and passion.