Benjamin Britten

Biography

Born: 1913   Died: 1976   Country: England   Period: 20th Century
With the arrival of Benjamin Britten on the international music scene, many felt that English music gained its greatest genius since Purcell. A composer of wide-ranging talents, Britten found in the human voice an especial source of inspiration, an affinity that resulted in a remarkable body of work, ranging from operas like Peter Grimes (1944-1945) and Death in Venice (1973) to song cycles like the Serenade for tenor, horn, and strings (1943) to Read more the massive choral work War Requiem (1961). He also produced much music for orchestra and chamber ensembles, including symphonies, concerti, and chamber and solo works. Britten's father was a prosperous oral surgeon in the town of Lowestoft, Suffolk; his mother was a leader in the local choral society. When Benjamin's musical aptitude became evident, the family engaged composer Frank Bridge to supervise his musical education. Bridge's tutelage was one of the formative and lasting influences on Britten's compositional development; Britten eventually paid tribute to his teacher in his Op. 10, the Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge (1937). Britten's formal training also included studies at the Royal College of Music (1930-1933).

Upon graduation from the RCM, Britten obtained a position scoring documentaries (on prosaic themes like "Sorting Office") for the Royal Post Office film unit. Working on a tight budget, he learned how to extract the maximum variety of color and musical effectiveness from the smallest combinations of instruments, producing dozens of such scores from 1935 to 1938. He rapidly emerged as the most promising British composer of his generation and entered into collaborative relationships that exerted a profound influence upon his creative life. Among the most important of his professional associates were literary figures like W.H. Auden, and later, E.M. Forster. None, however, played as central a role in Britten's life as the tenor Peter Pears, who was Britten's closest intimate, both personally and professionally, from the late '30s to the composer's death. Pears' voice inspired a number of Britten's vocal cycles and opera roles, and the two often joined forces in song recitals and, from 1948, in the organization and administration of the Aldeburgh Festival.

A steadfast pacifist, Britten left England in 1939 as war loomed over Europe. He spent four years in the United States and Canada, his compositional pace barely slackening, as evidenced by the production of works like the Sinfonia da Requiem (1940), the song cycle Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo (1940), and his first effort for the stage, Paul Bunyan (1940-1941). Eventually, the poetry of George Crabbe drew Britten back to England. With a Koussevitzky Commission backing him, the composer wrote the enormously successful opera Peter Grimes (1944-45), which marked the greatest turning point in his career. His fame secure, Britten over the next several decades wrote a dozen more operas, several of which -- Albert Herring (1947), Billy Budd (1951), The Turn of the Screw (1954), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1960), Death in Venice (1973) -- became instant and permanent fixtures of the repertoire. He also continued to produce much vocal, orchestral, and chamber music, including Songs and Proverbs of William Blake (1965), the three Cello Suites (1961-1964) and the Cello Symphony (1963), written for Mstislav Rostropovich, and the Third String Quartet (1975).

Britten suffered a stroke during heart surgery in 1971, which resulted in something of a slowdown in his creative activities. Nonetheless, he continued to compose until his death in 1976, by which time he was recognized as one of the principal musical figures of the twentieth century. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 52 Available Recordings
1 2 3
  • 1.
    Britten The Performer - Complete Decca Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001922102 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 27
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Henry Purcell,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Adrian Thompson,  John Tobin,  Jenny Hill,  Robert Tear  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  Wandsworth School Choir  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $104.49
    In Stock
    CD:  $104.49 Add CD to Cart

  • 2.
    Britten: Vocal Works
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 151642 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten,  Henry Purcell,  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Heather Harper,  Neil Mackie,  Barry Tuckwell,  Roger Vignoles  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Steuart Bedford,  Richard Armstrong,  Jeffrey Tate  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Scottish Chamber Orchestra,  Welsh National Opera Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $24.99
    In Stock
    CD:  $24.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 3.
    The Voice Of Peter Pears
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1393 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Ford,  John Dowland,  Thomas Morley,  Philip Rosseter  ... 
    Performer:  Julian Bream,  Peter Pears,  Benjamin Britten
    Recommendation
    On sale! $13.98
    CD: $9.99
    In Stock
    On sale!   $13.98   CD:  $9.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 4.
    Folk Songs Of The British Isles
    Label: Griffin   Catalog: 4078 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Charles Jeffreys,  James L. Molloy,  Delia Murphy  ... 
    Performer:  Phyllis Spurr,  Owen Brannigan,  Gerald Moore,  Peter Pears  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Wilson,  Hugh S. Roberton,  Bob Sharples,  Ivor E. Sims  ... 
    CD: $13.99
    Low Stock
    CD:  $13.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 5.
    Clifford Curzon Edition - Complete Recordings [23 CDs + DVD]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001728400 Release Date: 09/11/2012   Number of Discs: 24
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Clifford Curzon,  Irmgard Seefried,  Horst Günther,  Julius Patzak  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch,  George Szell,  Benjamin Britten,  Eduard Van Beinum  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $104.49
    In Stock
    CD:  $104.49 Add CD to Cart

  • 6.
    Label: Heritage   Catalog: 224 Release Date: 07/17/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Ford,  Philip Rosseter,  John Dowland,  Thomas Morley  ... 
    Performer:  Julian Bream,  Peter Pears,  Benjamin Britten
    On sale! $16.98
    CD: $12.49
    Low Stock
    On sale!   $16.98   CD:  $12.49 Add CD to Cart

  • 7.
    Britten Rarities / Hahessy, Bowden, Procter, Pears
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4802296 Release Date: 07/03/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten,  Henry Purcell
    Performer:  Benjamin Britten,  John Hahessy,  Michael Berkeley,  Norma Procter  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten,  Sir David Willcocks,  Bryan Balkwill,  Walter Goehr
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir,  Cambridge University Musical Society Chorus,  Suisse Romande Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    Import CD
    $12.99
    In Stock
    CD:  $12.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 8.
    Schubert: Lieder On Record (1898-2012) [17-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27575 Release Date: 07/03/2012   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Peter Schreier,  Steven Zehr,  Thomas Hampson,  Wolfgang Sawallisch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
    On sale! $67.98
    CD: $58.99
    In Stock
    On sale!   $67.98   CD:  $58.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 9.
    Folksongs / Peter Pears, Benjamin Britten
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 430063 Release Date: 04/03/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Benjamin Britten,  Peter Pears
    ArkivCD $16.99
    Low Stock
    ArkivCD:  $16.99 Add to Cart

  • 10.
    Kathleen Ferrier - The Complete Decca Recordings [14 CDs + DVD]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001654200 Release Date: 03/20/2012   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Schubert,  Franz Xaver Gruber  ... 
    Performer:  Zoe Vlachopoulos,  Ann Ayars,  Kathleen Ferrier,  Thornton Lofthouse  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Stiedry,  Reginald Jacques,  Boyd Neel,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus,  Southern Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bach Choir  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $97.49
    In Stock
    CD:  $97.49 Add CD to Cart

  • 11.
    Mstislav Rostropovich - The Complete Decca Recordings  [5-CDs]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001649502 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Frank Bridge,  Claude Debussy,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Benjamin Britten,  Sviatoslav Richter
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
    CD: $34.99
    In Stock
    CD:  $34.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 12.
    British Composers - Britten, Berkeley & Rubbra
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 29006 Release Date: 08/23/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten,  Edmund Rubbra,  Lennox Berkeley
    Performer:  Joan Cross,  Tom Culbert,  Peter Pears,  Denis Dowling  ... 
    Conductor:  Reginald Goodall,  Benjamin Britten,  Herbert Menges,  Norman Del Mar  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  BBC Theater Chorus,  English Opera Group  ... 
    CD: $34.99
    In Stock
    CD:  $34.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 13.
    Britten: Serenade For Tenor, Horn & Strings; Winter Words; Seven Sonnets Of Michelangelo
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1365 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Peter Pears,  Dennis Brain,  Benjamin Britten
    Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
    On sale! $13.98
    CD: $9.99
    In Stock
    On sale!   $13.98   CD:  $9.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 14.
    Holst: Humbert Wolfe Songs, Part-songs, Hymn Of Jesus / Pears, Britten, Holst
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4802327 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Holst
    Performer:  Peter Pears,  Benjamin Britten
    Conductor:  Imogen Holst,  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Purcell Singers,  BBC Chorus,  BBC Symphony Orchestra
    Import CD
    $12.99
    Low Stock
    CD:  $12.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 15.
    The Britten-Pears Collection [6 DVDs]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001445909 Release Date: 07/13/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Traditional,  Charles Dibdin,  Henry Purcell,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Pears,  Benjamin Britten,  Rae Woodland,  Anthony Williams  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten,  Meredith Davies,  Sir Charles Mackerras
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Opera Chorus,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Ambrosian Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
    DVD: $66.99
    Low Stock
    DVD:  $66.99 Add DVD to Cart

  • 16.
    Britten: Noye's Fludde / Norman Del Mar, English CO
    Label: London/Decca British Collection   Catalog: 425161 Release Date: 06/07/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Kathleen Petch,  Owen Brannigan,  Sheila Rex,  David Pinto  ... 
    Conductor:  Norman Del Mar,  Russell Burgess
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  East Suffolk Children's Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir
    Recommendation
    ArkivCD $16.99
    Special Order
    ArkivCD:  $16.99 Add to Cart

  • 17.
    Britten: Serenade, Winter Words, Etc / Britten, Pears
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 425996 Release Date: 01/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Dennis Brain,  Peter Pears,  Benjamin Britten
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boyd Neel String Orchestra
    Recommendation
    ArkivCD $16.99
    Low Stock
    ArkivCD:  $16.99 Add to Cart

  • 18.
    Bridge: Enter Spring, Summer, Christmas Dance / Marriner, Britten
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470189 Release Date: 10/22/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frank Bridge
    Performer:  Benjamin Britten,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Frederick Stone,  Kathleen Ferrier
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
    Recommendation
    ArkivCD $16.99
    Low Stock
    ArkivCD:  $16.99 Add to Cart

  • 19.
    Britten At Aldeburgh - Shostakovich, Janacek, Bridge
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 466823 Release Date: 10/21/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leos Janácek,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Frank Bridge
    Performer:  Benjamin Britten,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Emanuel Hurwitz,  Galina Vishnevskaya  ... 
    Recommendation
    ArkivCD $16.99
    Low Stock
    ArkivCD:  $16.99 Add to Cart

  • 20.
    Benjamin Britten - The Rarities
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 468811 Release Date: 10/09/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Peter Pears,  Benjamin Britten,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Galina Vishnevskaya  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten,  John Iveson,  George Malcolm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  London Symphony Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $24.98
    ArkivCD $21.99
    Low Stock
    On sale!   $24.98   ArkivCD:  $21.99 Add to Cart

  • 21.
    The Hidden Heart - A Life Of Benjamin Britten And Peter Pears
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 16571 Release Date: 02/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Robert Tear,  James Gilchrist,  Galina Vishnevskaya,  Peter Pears  ... 
    Conductor:  Rupert Jeffcoatt,  Benjamin Britten
    Recommendation
    On sale! $23.98
    DVD: $21.99
    Low Stock
    On sale!   $23.98   DVD:  $21.99 Add DVD to Cart

  • 22.
    Composers In Person
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 17575 Release Date: 11/24/2008   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ernö von Dohnányi,  Paul Hindemith,  Aram Khachaturian  ... 
    Performer:  Béla Bartók,  Vilma Medgyaszay,  Ferenc Szekeres,  Zoltán Székely  ... 
    Conductor:  Lawrence Collingwood,  Paul Hindemith,  Aram Khachaturian,  Arthur Honegger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Percurama Percussion Ensemble
    Recommendation
    On sale! $100.98
    CD: $76.99
    In Stock
    On sale!   $100.98   CD:  $76.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 23.
    Salute To Percy Grainger / Pears, Britten
    Label: London/Decca British Collection   Catalog: 425159 Release Date: 09/16/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Percy Aldridge Grainger
    Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk,  Peter Pears,  Benjamin Britten,  Viola Tunnard
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten,  Steuart Bedford
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Ambrosian Singers,  Linden Singers
    ArkivCD $16.99
    Low Stock
    ArkivCD:  $16.99 Add to Cart

  • 24.
    Britten: World Of Britten
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 436990 Release Date: 09/02/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Peter Pears,  Benjamin Britten,  Galina Vishnevskaya,  Marisa Robles  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten,  George Guest,  Norman Del Mar
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Highgate School Boys Chorus  ... 
    Import CD
    $11.99
    Back Order
    CD:  $11.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 25.
    Kathleen Ferrier Edition
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4756060 Release Date: 08/26/2008  
    Composer:  Giovanni Battista Pergolesi,  Felix Mendelssohn,  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  Joan Taylor,  Thornton Lofthouse,  Eric Greene  ... 
    Conductor:  Roy Henderson,  Reginald Jacques,  Fritz Stiedry,  Boyd Neel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nottingham Oriana Choir,  Boyd Neel String Orchestra,  Jacques Orchestra  ... 
    Import CD
    $62.99
    Low Stock
    CD:  $62.99 Add CD to Cart

1 2 3