To commemorate the centennial birthday celebration of Benjamin Britten,
CPR Classical will air his War Requiem in its entirety on Saturday nght at 9.
"The model of a composer," said Francis Poulenc. Arguably the most important British composer since Henry Purcell, Edward Benjamin Britten was born in Lowestoft, Suffolk, England on the feast day of the patron saint of music, St. Cecilia: November 22, 1913.
Britten began composing at the age of five. He later studied with composer Frank Bridge and at the Royal College of Music before landing a job at the Post Office film unit, where he wrote music for documentaries. Along with poet W.H. Auden and tenor Peter Pears, he emigrated to America in 1939, returning to England in 1942. He was a consciencious objector during World War II, and in response wrote his War Requiem (hear it Saturday evening on CPR Classical; see below) for the rededication of Coventry Cathedral in England, destroyed during the war, which intermingled the Latin text of the traditional requiem with the poetry of a British poet who was killed in the final days of the First World War. He founded the English Opera Group and the Aldeburgh Festival, composing a string of operas all the while: Peter Grimes, Billy Budd, Death in Venice, The Turn of the Screw and 11 others. Other works include Ceremony of Carols, Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Simple Symphony and Sinfonia da Requiem.
Britten was honored throughout his lifetime; he was the first musician to accept a life peerage, and he was awarded the very first Aspen Award in 1964. In an acceptance speech that summer in Colorado, Britten said: "I believe in roots, in associations, in backgrounds, in personal relationships. I want my music to be of use to people, to please them, to 'enhance their lives'... ."
Benjamin Britten died December 4, 1976, in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England.
Listen through the weekend for the music of Benjamin Britten on CPR Classical, including:
Thursday, Nov. 21
7p: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 94, & “Perpetual Motion” from Suite, Op. 6
Friday, Nov. 22
6a: Peter Grimes: 4 Sea Interludes: Dawn & Sunday Morning
11a: Hymn to Saint Cecilia
3p: Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
5p: Simple Symphony
8p: Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge
Saturday, Nov. 23
8a: Gloriana: Courtly Dances
2p: Cello Sonata
9p: War Requiem
Sunday, Nov. 24
6a: Festival Te Deum & 2 Sacred Songs
7a: Rejoice in the Lamb, Antiphon & A.M.D.G.: Rosa Mystica
9a: Hymn to Saint Cecilia