Benjamin Britten: A Life For Music

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Listing : Palmerston North, Manawatu, NZ. View Count: 0. Ping Add this item to Cart for a combined free shipping deal. The phenomena of that coast—the sea, the wind, the isolation—informed and animated his music, as Powell often reminds us as he discusses each major piece of it.

That any of them will manifest a more intelligently affectionate appreciation of him seems unlikely.

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Paperback Very good condition. There is of course no charge for shipping if you collect this book from my shop in Palmerston North following the auction.

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Reviewed: Benjamin Britten: a Life in the 20th Century by Paul Kildea

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    What's Afterpay? Britten was always happiest when working on the scale of the nuclear family, writing music about family relations and composing for ensembles that would fit neatly around a large dinner table. Individualism is prized as a subject, and individuality is enacted through vocal and instrumental lines that are allowed a great deal of florid freedom and contrapuntal independence.

    Throughout his musical language are telling echoes of the vestigial ambitions of the middle class, trumpets heard from afar suggesting a grander, more adventurous world beyond the horizons of an essentially settled existence. He loves poetry, chamber music, children, and nostalgia, and he would rather dither incoherently than say something untoward.

    And he never seems quite as genial as on those rare occasions, as in Albert Herring , when he takes a second martini. He may have distanced himself from the taste for folk song, yet he was accomplished at writing off-kilter, slightly alienated folk-song pastiche, which is often the best thing to be found in his work.

    When he does rise to a different standard of greatness, when his music transcends its self-imposed smallness, it generally has something to do with a deep sense of unfairness. In his second Canticle, a re-telling of the story of Isaac and Abraham, Britten breaks free of his parlor manner and writes music—much of it in his inflected folk style—of uncommon power.

    (Edward) Benjamin Britten

    The subject is the cruel and arbitrary unfairness of God, the conflict between duty and love distilled to an intolerable degree. The music recovered, but it is precisely this sort of thing, the wrenching of art from celestial intensity to the aesthetic of a church-cellar coffee hour, that is characteristic of Britten.

    That particular psychosexual key may seem to unlock many Britten mysteries. Decrying cruelty to innocent young men or boys was a prism through which Britten transcended his own inclinations to smallness. But that same smallness—the middle-class propriety that suffuses everything he wrote with occasional cathartic exceptions—was also a compensation mechanism for the frightening sexual allure of sadism and pederasty.

    The trope of sadism and innocence was both a form of protest and a heavily cathected nexus of desire that could not be contained within his immensely proper lifestyle. Spiritually and intellectually, the way out of his limitations was too terrifying a road to travel. Nor does one have to accept the reflexive British evaluation that Britten was a transformative figure in the world-historical arc of art music.

    Yet he accomplished a great deal.

    Book Review: 'Benjamin Britten' by Neil Powell | 'Benjamin Britten' by Paul Kildea

    Despite his strange tics with text setting, Britten made sung English comprehensible, a lesson that too many young composers do not bother to digest. The centenary of his birth is being widely celebrated. The St. Yet the music is resistant to large, public presentation. Even some fanatical lovers of Britten acknowledge that his last major work, Death in Venice , is best heard alone, in a darkened room, over a set of good headphones.

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