Britten, Benjamin

Britten earns his place in music history with monumental works like Peter Grimes and the War Requiem, both with nationalistic sentiments, but it is in the more intimate genres of song, chamber music and chamber opera where Britten’s talent for clearly crafted communication shines bright. Britten’s chamber operas, which include The Rape of Lucretia (first performed in the United States on Broadway in 1948), Albert Herring, Death in Venice and The Turn of the Screw, display his mastery of storytelling, musical innovation, and text setting. Every contemporary composer writing in English needs to do a comprehensive study of Britten’s miraculous ability to make the English language sing in a way that is idiomatic, unpretentious, and naturalistic. This is the secret to Britten’s popular success and the reason that his operas have entered the standard repertory while the scores of his esoteric contemporaries languish in academia.

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