Benjamin Britten

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Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten, OM CH (22 November 1913 – 4 December 1976) was an English composer, conductor and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces. His best-known works include the opera Peter Grimes (1945), the War Requiem (1962) and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1945).

Born in Suffolk, the son of a dentist, Britten showed talent from an early age. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London and privately with the composer Frank Bridge. Britten first came to public attention with the a cappella choral work A Boy was Born in 1934. With the premiere of Peter Grimes in 1945, he leapt to international fame. Over the next 28 years, he wrote 14 more operas, establishing himself as one of the leading 20th-century composers in the genre. In addition to large-scale operas for Sadler's Wells and Covent Garden, he wrote "chamber operas" for small forces, suitable for performance in venues of modest size. Among the best known of these is The Turn of the Screw (1954). Recurring themes in the operas are the struggle of an outsider against a hostile society, and the corruption of innocence.

Britten's other works range from orchestral to choral, solo vocal, chamber and instrumental as well as film music. He took a great interest in writing music for children and amateur performers, including the opera Noye's Fludde, a Missa Brevis, and the song collection Friday Afternoons. He often composed with particular performers in mind. His most frequent and important muse was his personal and professional partner, the tenor Peter Pears; others included Kathleen Ferrier, Jennifer Vyvyan, Janet Baker, Dennis Brain, Julian Bream, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Mstislav Rostropovich. Britten was a celebrated pianist and conductor, performing many of his own works in concert and on record. He also performed and recorded works by others, such as Bach's Brandenburg concertos, Mozart symphonies, and song cycles by Schubert and Schumann.

Together with Pears and the librettist and producer Eric Crozier, Britten founded the annual Aldeburgh Festival in 1948, and he was responsible for the creation of Snape Maltings concert hall in 1967. In his last year, he was the first composer to be given a life peerage.

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Discography

Album

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1973 Peter und der Wolf / Orchesterführer für junge Leute Sergej Prokofjew / Benjamin Britten 3
1981 Britten: Scottish Balad / Martinů: Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra Britten, Martinů; Joshua Pierce, Dorothy Jonas, The Luxembourg Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ettore Stratta 1
1981 Our Hunting Fathers (Peter Pears, Helen Watts Acc. Benjamin Britten) Benjamin Britten 1
1982 Symphonic Suite Gloriana / Prelude and Dances from the Prince of the Pagodas (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra cond. Uri Segal) Benjamin Britten 1
1983 Respighi: La Boutique fantasque / Britten: Soirées musicales / Matinées musicales Rossini/Respighi, Rossini/Britten; National Philharmonic Orchestra, Richard Bonynge 1
1985 Peter Grimes (Orchestra & Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden) Britten; Peter Pears, Benjamin Britten 2
1985 War Requiem Benjamin Britten; Galina Vishnevskaya, Peter Pears, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau 4
1986 Britten: Four Sea Interludes / Passacaglia / Bridge: The Sea / Bax: On the Sea Shore Benjamin Britten, Frank Bridge, Sir Arnold Bax; Ulster Orchestra, Vernon Handley 1
1986 Piano Concerto No. 20 / Piano Concerto No. 27 Mozart; English Chamber Orchestra, Benjamin Britten, Clifford Curzon 1
1987 Music for Voice and Piano Benjamin Britten 1
1987 Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata / Schumann: Fünf Stücke im Volkston / Debussy: Cello Sonata Schubert, Schumann, Debussy; Rostropovich, Britten 2
1988 The Three Cello Suites Benjamin Britten; Timothy Hugh 1
1988 A.M.D.G. / Hymn to St Cecilia / A Boy Was Born / A Shepherd's Carol Benjamin Britten 1
1988 Britten: Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge / Tchaikovsky: Serenade for strings / Mozart: Divertimento K 137 Mozart, Britten, Tchaikovsky; The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Iona Brown 1
1988 Neil MacKie Sings Britten Benjamin Britten 1
1988 Prokofiev: Classical Symphony / Bizet: Symphony in C / Britten: Simple Symphony Prokofiev, Bizet, Britten; Orpheus Chamber Orchestra 1 2
1988 Unaccompanied Choral Music Benjamin Britten; London Sinfonietta Chorus, Choristers of St Paul’s Cathedral, Terry Edwards 1
1989 Britten: The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra / Symphony for Cello and Orchestra / Four Sea Interludes from "Peter Grimes" / Pärt: Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten Benjamin Britten, Arvo Pärt; Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 1
1989 Saint Nicolas / Hymn to Saint Cecilia Benjamin Britten; Corydon Singers, English Chamber Orchestra, Matthew Best, Anthony Rolfe Johnson 2
1989 Albert Herring, Op. 39 (The English Chamber Orchestra feat. conductor: Benjamin Britten) Benjamin Britten 1
1989 Cello Symphony / Sinfonia da Requiem Benjamin Britten 1
1989 Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge / Les Illuminations / Lachrymae Benjamin Britten 1
1989 Barber: Cello Concerto / Britten: Symphony for Cello and Orchestra Barber, Britten; Yo‐Yo Ma, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, David Zinman 1
1989 Les Illuminations / Bridge Variations / Simple Symphony (The English Chamber Orchestra feat. conductor: Gilbert Levine, soprano: Elisabeth Söderström) Benjamin Britten 1
1989 Music for Oboe & Strings Bax, Bliss, Britten; Pamela Woods, Audubon Quartet 1
1989 Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf / Britten: Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra Serge Prokofiev, Benjamin Britten; Lorin Maazel, Alec Clunes 2
1989 Sonata for Cello & Piano R. Strauss, Britten; Yo‐Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax 2
1989 War Requiem, Op. 66 Britten; Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Robert Shaw 1
1990 The Complete Suites for Solo Cello Benjamin Britten; Torleif Thedéen 1
1990 Death in Venice Britten 1
1990 The Turn of the Screw (English Opera Group Orchestra feat. conductor: Benjamin Britten) Benjamin Britten 1
1990 A Ceremony of Carols / Rejoice in the Lamb / Missa Brevis / Festival Te Deum / Jubliate Deo / Hymn to St Peter / A Hymn of St Colomba / A Hymn to the Virgin Benjamin Britten; The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, George Guest 1
1990 A Midsummer Night's Dream (London Symphony Orchestra & Choirs of Downside and Emanuel Schools feat. conductor: Benjamin Britten) Benjamin Britten 1
1990 The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult) Benjamin Britten 1
1990 Young person's guide to the Orchestra / Sea interludes Benjamin Britten; London Symphony Orchestra 1
1991 Britten / Hindemith / Reger / Schnittke Britten, Hindemith, Reger, Schnittke; Yuri Bashmet, Moscow Soloists 1
1991 The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra / Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge / Four Sea Interludes & Passacaglia from Peter Grimes Britten; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Davis 2
1991 Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf / Britten: Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra / Ravel: Mother Goose Sergei Prokofiev, Benjamin Britten, Maurice Ravel; Alec McCowen, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Haitink 1
1991 String Quartets / Simple Symphony (The Britten Quartet) Benjamin Britten 1
1991 War Requiem / Sinfonia da Requiem / Ballad of Heroes Benjamin Britten; London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Richard Hickox 1
1992 Sinfonietta, op. 1 / Serenade, op. 31 / Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal / Nocturne, op. 60 Benjamin Britten; Christoph Prégardien, Ib Lanzky-Otto, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Osmo Vänskä 1
1992 Tavener: The Protecting Veil / Britten: Cello Suite No 3 / Tavener: Thrinos John Tavener, Britten; Steven Isserlis, London Symphony Orchestra, Gennadi Rozhdestvenski 2
1992 Variations & Fugue on a Theme of Purcell / Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes / Suite on English Folk Tunes Britten; Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic 2
1992 War Requiem Benjamin Britten; John Eliot Gardiner, NDR‐Sinfonieorchester 2
1992 Serenade, Michelangelo Sonnets, Winter Words Benjamin Britten 1
1992 The Three Cello Suites Britten; Pieter Wispelwey 2
1992 Violin Concertos Walton, Britten; Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Berglund, Ida Haendel 1
1992 War Requiem Britten; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Boys of Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford, Simon Rattle 1
1993 Noye's Fludde / The Golden Vanity Benjamin Britten 1
1993 A Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28 / Missa Brevis in D, Op. 63 / Hymns (Westminster Cathedral Choir feat. conductor: David Hill) Benjamin Britten 1
1993 Peter Grimes Benjamin Britten; Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Felicity Lott, Sir Thomas Allen, Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Bernard Haitink 1
1993 Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 / Britten: Sinfonia da Requiem Shostakovich, Britten; Philharmonia Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle 1
1993 The Choral Works Vol.3 (The Sixteen, feat. conductor Harry Christophers) Benjamin Britten 1
1993 The Choral Works, Volume II Benjamin Britten; The Sixteen, Harry Christophers 1
1993 The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Suite on English Folk Tunes, Johnson over Jordan, Four Sea Interludes (Bournemouth Symplohny Orchestra, feat. conductor: Richard Hickox) Benjamin Britten 1
1994 Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf / Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals / Britten: Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (narrated by Melissa Joan Hart as Clarissa) Prokofiev, Saint-Saëns, Britten; Melissa Joan Hart, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa 1
1994 Piano Concerto / Soirées Musicales / Matinées Musicales Benjamin Britten; Ralf Gothóni, Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, Okko Kamu 1
1994 Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings / Simple Symphony / Sea Interludes Benjamin Britten 1
1994 Spring Symphony / Four Sea Interludes / The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra Benjamin Britten; Concertgebouw Orchestra, Eduard van Beinum, Kathleen Ferrier, Jo Vincent, Peter Pears 1
1995 St. John Passion Johann Sebastian Bach; Wandsworth School Boys' Choir, English Chamber Orchestra, Benjamin Britten 1
1995 Lachrymae / Frank Bridge Variations / Simple Symphony (Norwegian Chamber Orchestra feat. conductor: Iona Brown) Benjamin Britten 1
1995 Shostakovich: Symphony no. 4 / Britten: Russian Funeral Shostakovich, Britten; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle 1
1995 Purcell Realizations Henry Purcell / Benjamin Britten 1
1995 Christ's Nativity / A Boy Was Born (Holst Singers feat. conductor: Stephen Layton) Benjamin Britten 1
1995 A Ceremony of Carols / Saint Nicolas Benjamin Britten; Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Cambridge Girls Choir 1
1995 Music for Oboe / Music for Piano Britten; Sarah Francis, Michael Dussek, Delme Quartet 2
1995 Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf / Britten: The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra Prokofiev, Britten; Richard Baker, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Raymond Leppard 2
1995 Symphony No. 25, K. 183 / Serenata notturna, K. 239 / Symphony No. 29, K. 201 / Symphony No. 40, K. 550 / Symphony No. 38, K. 504 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; English Chamber Orchestra, Benjamin Britten 1
1995 The Little Sweep / Rejoice in the Lamb Benjamin Britten; Sir Philip Ledger 1
1996 A Midsummer Night’s Dream, op. 64 Benjamin Britten; London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis 1
1996 Cello Suites nos. 1-3 Benjamin Britten; Timothy Hugh 1
1996 Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius / Holst: The Hymn of Jesus / Delius: Sea Drift Elgar, Holst, Delius; Benjamin Britten, Yvonne Minton, Peter Pears, John Shirley-Quirk, London Symphony Chorus, Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, London Symphony Orchestra 1
1996 Peter and The Wolf / Carnival of the Animals / Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra Prokofiev, Saint-Saëns, Britten; Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy 1
1996 Ravel / Shostakovich / Janáček / Smetana / Britten Ravel, Shostakovich, Janáček, Smetana, Britten; The Medici String Quartet 1
1996 The Salley Gardens Benjamin Britten 1
1996 The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra / Canadian Carnival / An American Overture / Suite on English Folk Tunes / Sinfonia da Requiem Britten; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle 1
1996 War Requiem (BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, feat. conductor: Martyn Brabbins) Benjamin Britten 1
1997 Spring Symphony / Hymn to St. Cecilia / Five Flower Songs Britten; The Monteverdi Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra, John Eliot Gardiner 1
1997 A Ceremony of Carols Benjamin Britten 1
1997 Britten: Cello Symphony / Walton: Cello Concerto Britten, Walton; Julian Lloyd Webber, Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St Martin in the Fields 1
1997 A Ceremony of Carols Benjamin Britten 1
1997 A Ceremony of Carols (Westminster Abbey Choir; Martin Neary, Dir.) Benjamin Britten 1
1997 Albert Herring Benjamin Britten; Northern Sinfonia, Steuart Bedford 1
1997 Britten: Choral Edition, Volume 1 Benjamin Britten 1
1998 Britten: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, op. 13 / Elgar: Enigma-Variations Benjamin Britten, Sir Edward Elgar; Robert Leonardy, Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra, Stanisław Skrowaczewski 1
1998 Serenade / Les Illuminations / Nocturne Benjamin Britten; Adrian Thompson, Michael Thompson, Bournemouth Sinfonietta, David Lloyd-Jones 1
1998 Shostakovich: Symphonies 4 & 5 / Britten: Sinfonia da Requiem / Four Sea Interludes / Passacaglia (Peter Grimes) Shostakovich, Britten; André Previn 1
1998 String Quartets, Volume 1 Benjamin Britten; Maggini String Quartet 1
1998 British Composers: Britten: Serenade for tenor, horn & strings, Our Hunting Fathers, Folksongs Benjamin Britten 1
1998 Suites pour violoncelle seul Britten; Jean-Guihen Queyras 1
1998 War Requiem (New York Philharmonic feat. conductor: Kurt Masur) Benjamin Britten 1
1998 Waxman / Mjaskowskij / Schumann / Britten Waxman, Mjaskowskij, Schumann, Britten; David Grigorian, Ludmila Lissovaja 1
1999 Strauss: Hornkonzerte No. 1 & 2 / Britten: Serenade, Op. 31 Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten; Marie Luise Neunecker, Bamberger Symphoniker, Ingo Metzmacher 1
1999 Elgar: In the South / Walton: Partita / Britten: Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra / Britten: Sinfonia da Requiem Elgar, Walton, Britten; Hallé Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli 1
1999 Shostakovich: Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings / Britten: Piano Concerto / Enesco: Légende Shostakovich, Britten, Enesco; Leif Ove Andsnes, Håkan Hardenberger, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi 1
1999 Bernstein and Britten Bernstein, Britten; Dale Warland Singers 1
1999 Ian Bostridge Sings Britten Benjamin Britten 1
1999 String Quartets, Vol. 2: Quartet No. 3 / A Simple Symphony Benjamin Britten; Maggini String Quartet 2
1999 Britten: Cello Symphony / Elgar: Cello Concerto Britten, Elgar; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle, Truls Mørk 1
1999 Double Concerto / Two Portraits / Young Apollo / Sinfonietta Benjamin Britten; Kent Nagano, Yuri Bashmet, Gidon Kremer, Nikolai Lugansky 1

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