Benjamin Britten

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Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten of Aldeburgh,[1] OM CH (22 November 1913 – 4 December 1976) was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. Showing prodigious talent from an early age – he composed his Quatre Chansons françaises for soprano and orchestra at the age of fourteen – he first came to public attention with the a cappella choral work A Boy Was Born. With the premiere of his opera Peter Grimes in 1945 he leapt to international fame, and for the next fifteen years he devoted much of his compositional attention to writing operas, several of which now appear regularly on international stages. Britten's interests as a composer were wide-ranging; he produced important music in such varied genres as orchestral, choral, solo vocal (much of it written for the tenor Peter Pears), chamber and instrumental, as well as film music. He also took a great interest in writing music for children and amateur performers, and was considered a fine pianist and conductor.



Britten was born in Lowestoft, Suffolk, the son of a dentist and a talented amateur musician. He showed musical gifts very early in life, and began composing prolifically as a child. He was educated at Old Buckenham Hall School in Suffolk, an all-boys prep school, and Gresham's School, Holt. In 1927, he began private lessons with Frank Bridge; by the following year he had composed Quatre Chansons françaises for soprano and orchestra, though it appears that his abilities as an orchestrator were essentially self-taught rather than learned from Bridge.[2] He also studied at the Royal College of Music under John Ireland, with some input from Ralph Vaughan Williams. Although ultimately prevented by his parents (at the suggestion of College staff), Britten had also intended to study with Alban Berg in Vienna. He studied both the piano and the viola; the piano was his only instrument as an adult, but the viola would play a significant role in many of his adult works.[citation needed]

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