Benjamin Britten

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About Benjamin Britten

A composer, conductor, and pianist, Britten was born in Lowestoft in 1913 and later made the Suffolk coast his creative home, inaugurating the Aldeburgh Festival in 1948. Though a master of orchestral and chamber music, Britten truly excelled as a composer for the voice. Often working with his partner, tenor Peter Pears, he produced some of the finest songs of the 20th century, most notably the Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings (1943), and initiated the revival of English opera with Peter Grimes in 1945. Reaching a wider audience—especially children—was a lifelong interest, achieved through popular works (The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,1945) and an accessible, though distinctive, musical style, which remained essentially tonal. Many later works combine personal and social concerns, from his fascination with the young-male voice (Billy Budd, 1951, and The Turn of the Screw, 1954) to his strongly held pacifism (War Requiem, 1961). On his death in 1976, he left a precious legacy of recordings of his own works.

Lowestoft, Suffolk, England
November 22, 1913

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