Percy Grainger: A Great Composer

Saturday, April 16, 2022 5:08:33 AM

Percy Grainger: A Great Composer

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Percy Grainger interviewed by John Amis

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To Tippett he was "simply the most musical person I have ever met", with an "incredible" technical mastery; [] some contemporaries, however, were less effusive. In Tippett's view, Walton and others were convinced that Britten and Pears were leaders of a homosexual conspiracy in music, [n 20] a belief Tippett dismisses as ridiculous, inspired by jealousy of Britten's postwar successes. He got into the valley of the shadow of death and couldn't get out".

In the decade after Britten's death, his standing as a composer in Britain was to some extent overshadowed by that of the still-living Tippett. In any event this was a short-lived phenomenon; Tippett adherents such as the composer Robert Saxton soon rediscovered their enthusiasm for Britten, whose audience steadily increased during the final years of the 20th century. Whittall believes that one reason for Britten's enduring popularity is the "progressive conservatism" of his music. He generally avoided the avant garde, and did not challenge the conventions in the way that contemporaries such as Tippett did. Britten, though a reluctant conductor and a nervous pianist, was greatly sought after in both capacities.

Singers and players admired Britten's conducting, and David Webster rated it highly enough to offer him the musical directorship of the Covent Garden Opera in Britten, like Elgar and Walton before him, was signed up by a major British recording company, [n 24] and performed a considerable proportion of his output on disc. For the Decca Record Company he made some monaural records in the s and s, followed, with the enthusiastic support of the Decca producer John Culshaw , by numerous stereophonic versions of his works. In May Britten made his debut in the Decca studios, accompanying Sophie Wyss in five of his arrangements of French folk songs. The following January he and Pears recorded together, in Britten's arrangements of British folk songs, and the following day, in duet with Curzon he recorded his Introduction and Rondo alla burlesca and Mazurka elegiaca.

In he conducted The Prince of the Pagodas in an early stereo recording, supervised by Culshaw. As a pianist and conductor in other composers' music, Britten made many recordings for Decca. As a conductor he recorded a wide range of composers, from Purcell to Grainger. The Red House, Aldeburgh , where Britten and Pears lived and worked together from until Britten's death in , is now the home of the Britten-Pears Foundation, established to promote their musical legacy. The converted hayloft was designed and built by H T Cadbury Brown in and was described by Britten as a "magnificent work". A memorial stone to Britten was unveiled in the north choir aisle of Westminster Abbey in Other creative artists have celebrated Britten.

Britten was played in the premiere production by Alex Jennings. In , Britten's War Requiem was selected by the U. Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant". In September , to mark the composer's forthcoming centenary, the Britten-Pears Foundation launched "Britten ", a collaboration of leading organisations in the performing arts, publishing, broadcasting, film, academia and heritage.

Centenary performances of the War Requiem were given at eighteen locations in Britain. Internationally, the anniversary was marked by performances of the War Requiem , Peter Grimes and other works in four continents. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Britten. English composer, conductor, and pianist — For other uses, see Britten disambiguation. For the British scientist, see Ben Britton. See also: List of compositions by Benjamin Britten.

Bridge was against this, saying that the instrument didn't vibrate properly with this interval: it should be divided between two instruments". In the critic Derrick Puffett wrote that in the s Britten was still regarded with suspicion on account of his technical expertise; Puffett quoted remarks by the Professor of Music at Oxford in the s, Sir Jack Westrup , to the effect that Britten was to be distrusted for his "superficial effects", whereas Tippett was considered "awkward and technically unskilled but somehow authentic. Either he couldn't score at all, or he could only score like Wagner, using enormous orchestras with so much going on that you couldn't hear anything clearly.

Above all, he was not original. In other words, nothing for a young student! His style is free from excessive personal mannerisms, and his scores are models of how the modern virtuoso orchestra should be used, nothing being left to chance and every note sounding. The opera's first performance under Koussevitzky's aegis was at the Tanglewood Music Festival in , conducted by the young Leonard Bernstein. The usual philistine charges brought against it, as against so much contemporary music 'no tunes — ugly, discordant sounds', and the rest , are beneath consideration. On the other hand, those who found Gloriana ill-suited to the occasion may be allowed to have some right on their side. Bridcut views this as manifest both in the Letts diaries Britten bought and used well into his adult life, in which he wrote several statistics relevant to himself when that age, [] and in his remark to Imogen Holst , "I'm still thirteen".

His fondness for me was something that was beyond my normal social connections, and I was a little overwhelmed that someone should be so fond of me I can still remember us talking late at night one time, and finding when it was really time to call it quits and go to sleep And I've got to say I really did not know what to do except say, 'no, no I don't mind', and he gently got up and gave me a gentle hug and kiss and said goodnight. Britten declared himself "tremendously impressed" by the music, though he thought the performance "execrable". If it is not curbed soon, Covent Garden and other precious musical heritages could suffer irreparable harm.

According to Haltrecht, Lord Harewood and other Covent Garden board members wanted Britten for the post, but Webster believed that it was above all as a composer that Britten could bring glory to Covent Garden. The set includes Britten's folksong arrangements, but excludes his Purcell realisations. The London Gazette. ISBN JSTOR In Bostridge, Mark ed. Britten's Century: Celebrating Years of Britten.

Britten Choral Guide. Retrieved 13 November Retrieved 17 September Britten and the Guitar. Dublin: Carysfort Press. Decca Classical — , accessed 24 May The London Gazette Supplement. Robert F. Kennedy and 'Schoolhouse Rock! The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 March Banfield, Stephen Jerome Kern. Foreword by Geoffrey Holden Block. Banks, Paul Woodbridge: Boydell Press. Begbie, Jeremy ; Guthrie, Steven R. Resonant Witness: Conversations between Music and Theology. Blyth, Alan Remembering Britten. London: Hutchinson. Brett, Philip , ed. Benjamin Britten: Peter Grimes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bridcut, John Britten's Children.

London: Faber and Faber. The Essential Britten. Britten, Benjamin March Tempo : 14— Donald Mitchell ed. Britten, Benjamin London: The Boydell Press. Carpenter, Humphrey Benjamin Britten: A Biography. Craggs, Stewart R. Benjamin Britten: A Bio-bibliography. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing. Culshaw, John Putting the Record Straight. Grove Music Online.

Oxford University Press. The Music of Benjamin Britten. London: J M Dent. Evans, John Ford, Andrew Illegal Harmonies: Music in the Modern Age third ed. Collingwood, Vic: Black. Gilbert, Susie Opera for Everybody. Graham, Colin []. In David Herbert ed. The Operas of Benjamin Britten. London: Herbert Press. Haltrecht, Montague London: Collins. Headington, Christopher []. Peter Pears: A Biography.

Headington, Christopher Illustrated Lives of the Great Composers. London: Omnibus Press. Kennedy, Michael Kildea, Paul Benjamin Britten: A life in the twentieth century. London: Penguin Books. Mann, William In Mitchell, Donald; Keller, Hans eds. OCLC Matthews, David London: Haus Publishing. Mitchell, Donald 6 January Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 6 April Am I Too Loud? Harmondsworth: Penguin. Oliver, Michael Benjamin Britten. London: Phaidon Press. Powell, Neil Britten: A Life for Music. Piper, Myfanwy []. Ray, John The Night Blitz: — London: Cassell. Robinson, Suzanne Autumn American Music.

British Composers in Interview. Seymour, Claire Karen The operas of Benjamin Britten — Expression and Evasion. Steinberg, Michael The Symphony — A Listener's Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Tippett, Michael Those Twentieth Century Blues. London: Pimlico Books. Weeks, Jeffrey Sex, Politics and Society. London: Longman. White, Eric Walker Benjamin Britten: His Life and Operas. Whittall, Arnold The Music of Britten and Tippett. List of compositions. Piano Concerto , rev. Homage to Paderewski Variations on an Elizabethan Theme War Requiem film.

Modernist music. Ernst von Siemens Music Prize. Igor Stravinsky Barbara Hannigan Unsuk Chin Wihuri Sibelius Prize. Gramophone Hall of Fame. Classical music portal Opera portal Biography portal Music portal. Authority control. Artist Names Getty. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Played out through two yearning melodies that contrast the wonder and resilience of nature with the precarious state of our planet, the piece proved very successful as it felt propelled from start to finish by an underlying, albeit highly varied, pulse.

In this performance, the BBC Symphony Orchestra , under the baton of Sakari Oramo for the fifth time at a Last Night, revealed immense skill in rendering the variation sequence that is based on both themes with beauty and integrity. It felt fitting therefore for the piece to be included on this anniversary in a new arrangement by Jonathan Manners, thus combining the ideas of remembrance and renewal. Barber created a vocal version of his work in , Agnus Dei , but that is usually sung a cappella , though he did write optional organ or piano accompaniments.

This version began with just the voices of the BBC Singers before the strings were introduced, and the way in which the instruments underlay the human voice, thus bringing notable richness and depth to the work, was highly skilful not to mention exceptionally moving. Credit too to the audience for giving the performance the silence it deserved at the end before bursting into rapturous applause, quite an unusual thing to witness at a Last Night! Stuart Skelton Photo: Chris Christodoulou.

I had only ever heard her live once before, at Grange Park Opera in , but she brought everything we could wish for as she combined superb playing with the flair, panache and sheer sense of fun that the occasion demands. Unfortunately, following a good start, his voice started to crack during the third verse the Aftersong. It can happen to anyone at any time, and it was simply a shame that it happened here. My fear was for how this boded for the rest of his performances that evening, although it was allayed as soon as Skelton got stuck into the second half.

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