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Britten in Pictures [Paperback]

Lucy Walker

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Book Description

Nov. 26 2012
Benjamin Britten was one of the most important cultural figures in England in the twentieth century. Internationally renowned as a composer, performer, and founder of the Aldeburgh Festival and English Opera Group, he had a career spanning nearly five decades, producing a series of works such as Peter Grimes and the War Requiem that caught the public imagination, and becoming a familiar figure to worldwide concert and TV and radio audiences through his conducting and song recitals with his partner, the tenor Peter Pears. Behind this public face, however, Britten was an intensively private man, who valued perhaps more than anything the time he spent at home on the Suffolk coast, composing and enjoying a settled domestic life. Britten in Pictures celebrates the many facets of Britten's life in a major new photographic treatment timed to coincide with the composer's centenary in 2013. Using the wealth of images housed in the collections of The Britten-Pears Foundation at Aldeburgh, the book charts the curve of Britten's life, using a selection of rare and previously unpublished images to reveal him anew in all phases of his career, catching a multitude of informal glimpses of the man 'behind the scenes' at work and play as well as in more familiar formal settings. The result is a new and often surprising portrait of this major musical genius. Published in association with The Britten-Pears Foundation.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Boydell Press (Nov. 26 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843837498
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843837497
  • Product Dimensions: 25.1 x 25.1 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #686,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

It is a fascinating collection and one that keeps the reader utterly enthralled ... The final chapters are deeply powerful and intensely moving - I certainly had not managed to retain dry eyes by the end. SPIRITED MAGAZINE, December 2013 Superbly laid out spreads of photographs from premieres of Britten's stage works ... Britten in Pictures is sure to delight its intended audience, that of the music lover. MUSIC AND LETTERS, January 2014 Walker has worked diligently on telling the full story of Britten's life throughout pictures (...) Walker's superb collation of this visual material will prove indispensable during the centenary year and beyond. CLASSICAL MUSIC Given that no biography ever contains enough illustrations, Lucy Walker's Britten in Pictures (...) is especially welcome (...) A fascinating essay by Christopher Grogan analyses the way Britten presented himself in photographs and paintings, and the book also includes pictures of opera sets, costume designs, photographs of manuscripts and - most touchingly - some of the letters Britten and Pears wrote to each other. DAILY TELEGRAPHBritten was uncomfortable in front of a camera, at best hiding his true self behind an 'enigmatic smile'. (...) but (these pictures) reveal a more relaxed, happier man to set against the tense, darkly troubled persona suggested by many of his later works. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE(O)ne need go no further than Lucy Walker's handsome compilation to get the essence of this composer, his life, and his works. Highly Recommended. THE DELIAN A unique and highly recommended body of captioned images, "Britten in Pictures" will be of special interest to his legions of fans and students of his life and accomplishments. MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW Every Britten lover will want to own this sumptuous book. STRINGENDO For anyone interested in Britten an essential buy, with much to discover. BMS NEWS (A) truly magnificent collection of hundreds of images in color and black and white from the composer's childhood to a poignant chapter on the events immediately after his death, and in his memory. (...) Britten in Pictures is a vibrant and colorful addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in understanding the music and musicianship of Britten in his centenary year. CLASSICAL.NET This collection is a must-buy for all devotees of one of the greatest composers of the last century. MUSIC.WEB.INTERNATIONAL

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful treasure-house of images. March 18 2013
By S. Southall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The archives at The Red House contain thousands of documents and photographs of the great composer Benjamin Britten and his circle: these are the source for the pictures in this beautiful book, compiled with the Britten-Pears Foundation for the centenary of Britten's birth in 2013. Britten was a private man with an immense public following: his guardedness, essential given his then illegal status as a homosexual, is evident in the photographs published during his lifetime. Britten felt, too, that the composer should be secondary to his works: he didn't want to be a celebrity; he wanted his music to be heard. The result was the 'enigmatic smile' he adopted for his image. When photographed with his musical and domestic partner Peter Pears, but also with most others, women as well as men, he directed his attention objectively outward, towards the camera but not engaged with it, or downward towards the score or the keyboard. From a small child, he was accustomed to be adored, and we can see him accepting without visual comment the admiring eyes of Pears and other people. Even in a formal portrait, he seems most relaxed when photographed with his dogs. Although his face is closed to interpretation, though, his hands are most eloquent. The collection has released previously unseen photographs that show a less serious side: lovely early portraits of Britten in America; family snapshots with his nieces and nephews; holiday pictures: he had much charm, and could enjoy himself. The fascinating introduction discusses paintings and sculptures of Britten as well as photographs. Many famous musicians passed through Britten's life: Rostropovich, Menhuin, Fischer-Dieskau can be found here. Each photograph is surely worth many words. This book is a treasure-house for anyone interested in Britten and Pears, or in Aldeburgh and its Festival.

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