Spotlight on Great Classical Composers: Britten


It has been two months since our last Spotlight blog post ~!  We hope you haven’t been missing it too much (: ! 

Following features on Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and more, the final Great Classical Composer we will be looking at before moving on from names starting with the letter ‘B’ is Britten ~!  

Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976) was a leading British composer, pianist and conductor of the mid-20th century.  Particularly known for his operas and song cycles, Britten is recognised as the central figure who changed the face of British opera.

Born in Lowestoft, Suffolk, England, young Britten contracted pneumonia at only 3 months old and he struggled with his health throughout his life.  Despite this, he began composing as a child and by the age of 12, he was studying under the English composer Frank Bridge. 

In 1930, Britten won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied with John Ireland and Ralph Vaughan Wiliams.  Whilst there, he composed a set of choral variations A Boy Was Born and soon after, in 1937, his Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge for string orchestra, which won him international attention.

Britten’s wide influence on opera began with his Peter Grimes, an opera commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation.  Following which, he wrote multiple operas – many considered the finest English operas since those of Henry Purcell in the 17th century.

In 1948, Britten founded the Aldeburgh Festival following tours by the English Opera Group (where he held the roles of artistic director, composer, and conductor) that revealed a need for a home venue.  The Aldeburgh Festival quickly became one of the most important English music festivals and the centre of Britten’s musical activities.

Beyond operas, Britten’s song cycles and choral works are also well-admired.  Not to mention his ever popular Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra which continues to illustrate Britten’s reverence for Henry Purcell ~ following his monumental second String Quartet created in commemoration of the 250th death anniversary of the earlier composer.

There is so much more to learn from Britten’s illustrious life – his experience as a pacifist during World War II, his lifelong friendship with Peter Pears, the inspiration behind his Chacony, and his acceptance of a life peerage in the last year of his life.

To find out more about Britten, as well as other Great Classical Composers, do visit us in The Glasshouse and join us in #origins ~! 

December 2020 collections featuring Benjamin Britten ~ are now available within our creative virtual sphere The Glasshouse, and collections from January and February 2021 have also been uploaded ! 

Through unique monthly collections of Storyboards, Activity and Canvas sheets, each focused on a different Great Classical Composer, The Glasshouse #origins programmes are definitely the best way to introduce quality sustained exposure to classical music for both you and your child ~!

Join us now ~!  We hope to see you in The Glasshouse, and stay tuned for our next Spotlight on Great Classical Composers coming to you in March !