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With only a limited time to create an opera for the opening performance at the Aldeburgh Festival on 11 June 1960, Britten and Pears selected Shakespeare’s comic play, and by shortening and tightening it they were able to employ Shakespeare’s own text rather than rewriting it. The music, meanwhile, transforms the stage into the woods, and ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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writing large portions of prose while Eric Crozier focused on the dramatic execution. Accordingly, Billy Budd was one of the most meticulously researched and well-written librettos of any Benjamin Britten opera. Typically for a Britten protagonist, the seafaring title character is an outsider pitted unwittingly against Claggart, the master-at-arms, and it is the tensions and clashes between ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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– at the request of managing director, soprano Joan Cross. This opera, and its success, provided the momentum that the post-war arts environment needed. From the moment Britten read ‘The Borough’ he began making plans to compose an opera, although unlike Crabbe’s negative and villainous protagonist, Britten’s title character is a partly misunderstood idealist and visionary. ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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of variations based upon 16 scenes (divided equally between two acts), each with a different tonal centre. By reappearing in every scene, this theme tightens the tension, while Britten demonstrates his genius for orchestration when evoking an eerie, semi-real world that is punctuated with children’s nursery rhymes. Composed: 1954 Premiered: 1954, Venice Libretto by Myfanwy Piper, ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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1913–76 English composer The finest English composer of his generation, Britten reacted against the folksong-derived pastoralism of his elder compatriots, finding inspiration in Purcell and influences as various as Mahler and Stravinsky. The international success of his opera Peter Grimes (1945) brought financial security, but he continued to appear as a pianist, accompanying his partner and outstanding ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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1913–76, English Lord Edward Benjamin Britten was one of England’s most important composers. Britten was a musical ambassador who, working with a close-knit group of collaborators, helped develop a thriving and vital British opera scene. Indeed, Peter Grimes (1945) heralded a new era for British music and for the post-war performing arts in general. A Musical Start ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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, often grouped together to form song cycles. They were followed by a long line of composers of songs including Brahms, Gustav Mahler (1860–1911), Claude Debussy (1862–1918) and Benjamin Britten (1913–76), who formed a highly successful partnership with the tenor Peter Pears. The combination of voice and piano is also very popular in cabaret and comedy acts, and it ...

Source: The Illustrated Complete Musical Instruments Handbook, general editor Lucien Jenkins
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(1955), and a number of guitar solos, no other piece ever had the same impact, much to the composer’s annoyance. Other important guitar music has been written by Britten, Walton and Arnold. In addition, composers such as Mahler and Schoenberg have included it in chamber ensemble or orchestral works. The guitar was a central part of the ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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of music that continues to grow. The guitar repertoire has been enlarged by works from some of the composing heavyweights of the twentieth century, including Francis Poulenc (1899–1963), Benjamin Britten (1913–76), Michael Tippett (1905–98), Hans Werner Henze (b. 1926), William Walton (1902–83) and Rodney Bennett (b. 1936). Segovia’s zeal for encouraging new work has been taken up by a number ...

Source: The Illustrated Complete Musical Instruments Handbook, general editor Lucien Jenkins
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The term ‘horn’ is generally used to refer to the orchestral horn, also known as the French horn. Although it is used in jazz slang to indicate any wind instrument played by a soloist, the name here refers to the orchestral horn. History The early history of the horn is bound intimately to that of the trumpet. Both instruments ...

Source: The Illustrated Complete Musical Instruments Handbook, general editor Lucien Jenkins
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A trombone is a brass instrument sounded by buzzing the lips into a mouthpiece. It is peculiar amongst brass instruments in using a double ‘U’-shaped slide to alter its pitch. The early history of the trombone is confused, mostly due to a lack of clarity in naming instruments. It is generally accepted that the immediate precursor to the trombone was ...

Source: The Illustrated Complete Musical Instruments Handbook, general editor Lucien Jenkins
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has a narrower bore and more penetrating tone. It is often used to play Baroque parts but has also been specifically written for by composers including Maurice Ravel (1875–1937), Benjamin Britten (1913–76) and Stravinsky. The piccolo trumpet in Bb sounds an octave above the standard trumpet. This was originally developed by Adolphe Sax in the 1840s and revived by Goeyens in ...

Source: The Illustrated Complete Musical Instruments Handbook, general editor Lucien Jenkins
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Tubular bells, also known as orchestral or symphonic chimes, are a set of tuned steel tubes with a chrome finish, hanging vertically in a stand with a pedal damper. The optimum range for a chromatic set of tubular bells is 11⁄2 octaves rising from middle C (c'–f''), as notes above or below this range are difficult to tune ...

Source: The Illustrated Complete Musical Instruments Handbook, general editor Lucien Jenkins
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for solo playing. The great works for viola, though, came in the twentieth century. Composers including Bartók, Walton, Paul Hindemith (1895–1963), Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958), Benjamin Britten (1913–76), Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–75) and Luciano Berio (1925–2003) all wrote excellent solo works. Not only that, but the viola took up a more prominent position in the orchestra. It ...

Source: The Illustrated Complete Musical Instruments Handbook, general editor Lucien Jenkins
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several times. At Covent Garden, where she first appeared as Hermia in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, her roles included Berlioz’s Dido, Kate in Owen Wingrave (which Britten wrote for her), Mozart’s Vitellia and Gluck’s Alceste. At Glyndebourne she sang in Cavalli’s La Calisto, Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and Gluck’s Orfeo. Introduction | Contemporary | ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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