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Episode 1

Duration:
1 hour
First broadcast:
Monday 15 November 2010

Donald Macleod reveals some of the wealth of music English composer Benjamin Britten wrote during his remarkably successful career in the light of two enduring influences - his life partner, the tenor Peter Pears and his beloved native county of Suffolk.

The BBC helped advance Britten's career by broadcasting two chamber pieces he had composed while still a student at the Royal College of Music. He was soon writing soundtracks for the GPO Film Unit as well as incidental music for the theatre, TV and radio. In programme 1, Donald introduces music from those early years including one of Britten's best known soundtracks for the GPO - 'Night Mail', and two works written during his wartime years in America - the Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, written for Pears, and his first opera, based on the story of the mythological lumberjack, Paul Bunyan.

Music Played

6 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Image for Benjamin Britten

    Benjamin Britten Sally Gardens

    Performer: Peter Pears (tenor) Performer: Benjamin Britten (piano)

    BBC BBCB8015-2

  • Image for Benjamin Britten

    Benjamin Britten A Boy was Born (finale)

    Performer: Holst Singers Performer: St Paul’s Cathedral Choristers Performer: Conductor Stephen Layton

    Hyperion CDA66825

  • Image for Benjamin Britten

    Benjamin Britten Night Mail

    Performer: Simon Russell Beale

    NMC NMCD112

  • Image for Benjamin Britten

    Benjamin Britten Britten

    Performer: Seven Sonnets of Michaelangelo Performer: Peter Pears (tenor) Performer: Benjamin Britten (piano)

    BBC BBCB8015-2

  • Image for Benjamin Britten

    Benjamin Britten Young Apollo

    Performer: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Performer: Conductor Simon Rattle

    EMI CZS 573983-2

  • Image for Benjamin Britten

    Benjamin Britten Paul Bunyan (extract)

    Performer: Leah-Marian Jones (mezzo soprano) Performer: Timothy Robinson (tenor) Performer: Peter Coleman-Wright (baritone) Performer: Jeremy White (bass) Performer: Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Performer: Conductor Richard Hickox

    Chandos 9781

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