Friday, 31 May 2013

Britten at the British Library - special exhibition

Starting today at the British Library, a new, free exhibition about Benjamin Britten. It explores the literary influences on Britten's music, from Shakespeare and Jonson to Auden and Isherwood, as well as some of the political and musical influences that shaped his work.

Included are:
* the draft score of Britten's music for Instruments of the Orchestra
(repurposed as The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra), acquired by the British Library in 2012

* other autograph manuscripts, including the music for Night Mail, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings

* photographs, concert programmes and archival material drawn from the Muir Mathieson, Malcolm Sargent and Donald Mitchell archives at the British Library

* extracts from rare or unique sound recordings, including the first productions of Paul Bunyan (1941) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (1960), the whole of the first broadcast performance of Curlew River (1964), and unpublished test pressings of 'Funeral Blues' and 'Tell me the truth about
love' performed by Britten and Peter Pears.

To mark Britten's centenary, the British Library has also digitised all of its Britten manuscripts, which are now available online at in a special arrangement with the rights holders.  Many of the manuscripts are on permanent loan to the Britten-Pears Library in Aldeburgh, under the terms of Britten's will, so we hope the digital facsimiles will make it easy for researchers to study Britten's music wherever they are.

In addition, a number of talks and performances have been arranged. For further details, please see
photo: Christine Matthews

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