Benjamin Britten's Aldeburgh house project gets £1.4m

The Red House in Aldeburgh was Britten's home for almost 20 years

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A project to mark the centenary of the birth of composer Benjamin Britten in two year's time has been awarded £1.4m from the National Lottery.

The money will be spent by the Britten Pears Foundation (BPF), which is based at the composer's house in Aldeburgh.

His studio will be restored and there will be outreach work with schools.

Lucy Walker, from BPF, said: "It's terrific because we've wanted to expand in this way for a long time and now we've got the opportunity to do so."

Britten, who was born in Lowestoft in 1913, lived in the Red House on Golf Lane with his partner, the singer Peter Pears, from 1957 until his death in 1976.

Some of the major works he wrote there included Noye's Fludde and War Requiem.

Pears died in 1986 and since then the house and its collections have been cared for by the BPF, which says it is the most comprehensive archive dedicated to a single composer.

'Magical place'

The house will have a larger exhibition space and an interactive learning room for school groups featuring costumes from the operas.

Ms Walker, who is the director of development and learning at the BPF, said: "The main aim is to open up his house as never before.

"We've got a lot to do before 2013, but it's going to be terrific and Aldeburgh's really going to draw people in.

"People have this idea that his music is challenging, but there are many engaging works that people could be drawn to like the Simple Symphony, the Peter Grimes Sea Interludes and some cabaret songs he wrote in the late 1930s which really show his more playful side."

Robyn Llewellyn, Eastern regional head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: "Britten pioneered the idea that music-making should not be the preserve of the privileged few - whether amateur, professional or child.

The Red House, Aldeburgh The Red House is on a private road near Aldeburgh Golf Club

"It is this idea that is carried forward with this project, creating new opportunities for everyone to explore, learn about and enjoy the wonderful legacy of Britten's work and collections."

The actor Alex Jennings, who is playing Britten in Alan Bennett's play The Habit of Art, said: "I was fortunate enough to stay at the Red House and it's easy to see how this magical place inspired him and his work.

"This project will help more people than ever enjoy the work of this great composer."

The 2013 centenary project will also involve creating an audio trail around Aldeburgh taking in the church, Jubilee Hall, beach and Maggi Hambling's Scallop sculpture which commemorates Britten.

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