Benjamin Britten (1913 -- 76) was the greatest English composer of his time, and the first of his generation to enjoy a wide international reputation. With the great success of Peter Grimes (1945) he effectively reinvented English opera and was a pioneer of music for film and radio. For much of his life, however, British critics dismissed his music as merely 'clever'. Nor was his private life free from malicious gossip, yet his sexuality and his political and social convictions directly or indirectly inspired much of his art. In this masterly biography the author creates a portrait of a great artist and discusses the contradictions of his quintessential Englishness and his world stature, his outsider status and his membership of the establishment, his artistic adventurousness and his constant regard for musical forms and traditions.
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Benjamin BrittenUser Review - Book Verdict
Similar to other volumes in Phaidon's "20th Century Composers" series, including Oliver's own Igor Stravinsky (LJ 2/15/96), this latest effort treats British composer Britten's life and works in strict chronological order, with detailed, easily intelligible discussions of major compositions. He deals forthrightly with Britten's homosexuality and its influence on his music without stooping to innuendo and gossip. Some personal opinions surface but do not detract measurably from the text, which illustrates Britten's development from youthful studies with Frank Bridge and John Ireland to later acclaim as one of Great Britain's most important contemporary composers. Abundant photographs and illuminating quotes from Britten's own writings are interspersed throughout. This book covers the same territory as Humphrey Carpenter's excellent Benjamin Britten: A Biography (LJ 6/15/93), albeit in a considerably condensed format. Enthusiastically recommended for all music collections as well as for general academic or public libraries that do not hold Carpenter's work.-Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, Ohio
Review: Benjamin Britten (20th Century Composers) (20th Century Composers)User Review - Carol - Goodreads
This is one of the Phaidon series of books on 20th century composers, and, like the others I've read from the series, is a solid overview of the subject's life and works. They're not heavy on the ... Read full review