On November 22, 1913, the feast day of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of Music, was born a child who showed a great interest and talent in music. Benjamin Britten was born in Lowestoft in Suffolk. Though his father was a dentist, he had great interest in music, and his mother also was an amateur singer, and so it could be said that Britten inherited his interest in music from his parents. Even as a child, he could compose creatively. Benjamin Britten was educated at Gresham’s School. In 1927, Britten started his private training with Frank Bridge, an eminent English composer.
He also studied under John Ireland at the Royal College of Music and under Ralph Vaughan Williams. After his graduation, Britten was very clear about his future. He was determined to be a composer and composed music for a number of plays. His first notable compositions were the Sinfonietta and A Boy was Born, and from there his fame grew, and he was Benjamin Britten 2 popular. In 1936, Benjamin met tenor Peter Pears, which set off a great relationship. Peter Pears was his inspiration, and they eventually became partners. Peter Pears had a great influence on his life and his music, and to him, Britten had composed a number of songs.
Peter had a great influence on Britten, both in his personal life as well as his professional life. He was among the greatest English composers of the 20th century. Though some critics found Benjamin’s social and sexual relationships not appropriate of a young English musician, his perfect technique and his knack of treating the traditional musical forms with originality and freshness compensated the charges. He was excused from army service and was allowed to practice his composition work provided he performed as a pianist at concerts at wartime sponsored by the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts.
Over the years, he had also started writing for operas. As an opera composer, Benjamin Britten gained worldwide reputation. It is indeed interesting to note that he was the first musician to be honored with the title of “Lord” by the Queen. He also was approached for writing for special occasions. Benjamin went to America for some time but later returned to England. In 1945, with his opera Peter Grimes, Benjamin became a celebrity. It was a great success. His successive operas like the Church Parables were also greatly appreciated.
Benjamin’s best known orchestral music, popularly known as The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, a tribute to the great composer Henry Purcell, is very informative. His Reflections on a Theme of Dowland is also a tribute, this time to the lutenist John Dowland, which is indeed a moving Benjamin Britten 3 performance. Benjamin Britten was an outstanding English composer popular throughout the world. In 1948, he successfully planned the first Aldeburgh Music Festival which later became an annual event. Benjamin also excelled in chamber music, his notable ones being Cello Sonata and three Cello Suites.
Benjamin often worked with the renowned poet W. H. Auden who offered the texts for which Britten provided music. Britten was awarded the Order of Merit in March 1965. This was his most treasured honor. Since its inception in 1902, only two people had got it prior to Britten. He also won the Robert O. Anderson Aspen Award in the Humanities. He was the first musician to be honored with the title of Baron. During the latter years of his life, Benjamin often complained of ill health. In May 1973, he had an open heart surgery which made him an invalid for life.
He still attended the London premiere of Death in Venice in October 1973. He then traveled to Germany and Italy. According to Pears, Britten was not scared of death. On December 4, 1976, in his hometown in Suffolk, he died of a heart attack. He is buried in the resting place of the Aldeburgh Parish Church with his colleague Peter Pears resting in peace adjacent to his grave. Benjamin Britten 4 Works Cited 2007 Naxos Digital Services, Britten Benjamin, biography [Electronic Version] Retrieved on June 6, 2007, from www. naxos. com
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