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Donald Macleod presents music from Britten's early years, including one of his best known soundtracks written for the GPO, Night Mail, and two works written in America.

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.

1 hour

Last on

Mon 23 Jan 2012 18:30

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Music Played

  • Benjamin Britten

    Sally Gardens

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

    • BBC BBCB8015-2.
  • Benjamin Britten

    A Boy was Born (finale)

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

    • Hyperion CDA66825.
  • Benjamin Britten

    Night Mail

    Performer: Simon Russell Beale

    • NMC NMCD112.
  • Benjamin Britten

    Britten

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

    • BBC BBCB8015-2.
  • Benjamin Britten

    Young Apollo

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

    • EMI CZS 573983-2.
  • 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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