Benjamin Britten





Benjamin Britten

Part 1

Edward Benjamin Britten was an English conductor, composer and a pianist. He was born in 1913 in Suffolk, England. Sadly, he contracted the deadly pneumonia disease and almost died at the age of three months while the world was faced with the historical World War I. He lived to recover and began embracing music at his tender age with the support of his mother. He received his first lessons in notation and piano and began composition at the age of five. Britten loved cricket and football while at school, but still maintained his passion for music despite its absence in the institution. As a boarder in a different school, he almost contemplated suicide.

            Britten used his time to learn on the use of piano, composing of songs and receiving multiple prizes for his efforts in compositions. He attended concerts before finishing his undergraduate studies in Vienna. His early professional life was marked with a role in the film contribution sector of the British Broadcasting Corporation. He consummated his relationship with Pears before the Second World War. Having traveled to America, he improved on his literary work on drama and music. He returned to England with his wife after 1942 and succeeded in doing opera work. His profession and contribution towards music was recognized through his award of baron status. He died in 1976 from congestive failure of the heart.

Part 2

One of the most significant contributions of Britten was through operas. He wrote and composed notably the most influential operas ever recorded in the history of England. Musical elements contained in the operas are referenced by the use of themes in his works. Atonalism is one of the elements significant in the style and presentation. This was after a change from the tonal composition. Britten is fondly remembered of employing the gamelan sounds of the early years. He instituted this with eastern harmonies that presented tonal variation and shift from the traditional aspects of opera music. Secondly, he used the dynamism aspect of music in employing the percussive harp sounds. This was in conjunction with the use of the keyboard, mechanicals and warm strings. It helped enhance the variety and increase richness of the music. The third element was use of themes to present the societal view through his opera music. It showed the perceptions of the nation, innocence corruption and the pacifist nature of the people.

            The second major significant contribution of Britten was through the vocal works. One of the key musical elements in his works included language inflexions in poetry. In British history of set poetry Britten was responsible for intersperses between the use of foreign language and different tonal variations. In the War Requiem, chorus singing and soprano voices were used as compared to the counterpart. It was during the First World War that baritone and tenor had been used to present the same piece. The second element of Britten’s work in vocals was through the five canticles. This was demonstrated by compositions in five different voices and accompaniments. The latter was presented with a piano and harp. The canticles were spread over twenty-seven years from 1947 to 1974. The third element was through the orchestral works. Britten used integration, incisiveness, and individuality in compositions along with the musical material. Comedic parodies and operatic clichés signified historical transformations.

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