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Benjamin Britten: A Life For Music Hardcover – 31 Jan 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson (31 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091931231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091931230
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 471,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Neil Powell is a poet, and it shows. Fluent… intimate… psychologically adept… [Powell does] an exceptional job of bringing this strange, neurotic and evasive man to life." (Bryan Appleyard Sunday Times)

"A sensible, well-written book by an author who is a literary scholar: this is the biography to choose if you are new to Britten and want an introduction to his life." (Country Life)

"Powell carries the torch into the present, naming those singers now performing the work anew, painting a portrait of the Aldeburgh festival as it is today. His account has air and light, and brings alive the sense of landscape – the East Anglian coast, the marshes, the wind and waves – which have coloured so much of Britten's music." (Observer)

"[A] fine biography... Powell has a more personal touch... takes a more literary approach, and is good at relating the vocal pieces to their sources." (Daily Telegraph)

"Tightly focused... sympathetic. Powell lives in Suffolk and has a strong understanding of the composer’s cultural rootedness in that part of the world." (Economist)

Book Description

Benjamin Britten is the greatest of our English composers and 2013 marks the centenary of his birth: Neil Powell’s Benjamin Britten: A Life for Music is the landmark biography of this pioneering musician's rich life and work.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In the Preface to this book the author states that 'Benjamin Britten was the greatest of English composers - rivalled only by Henry Purcell and Edward Elgar - and one of the most extraordinarily gifted musicians ever to have been born in this country.' I have no quarrel with the second part of that opinion but vigorously dispute the first : Ralph Vaughan Williams is also fit to be mentioned in the same breath as Purcell (next to whose tomb in Westminster Abbey he is buried) and Elgar. The general tenor of this lengthy and (in the first half especially) perhaps over-detailed biography is that Britten was the 'Sun King' around whom his contemporaries were merely satellites. Thus in the infrequent references to the works of other English composers the tone is decidedly dismissive : for example Ireland's beautiful Piano Concerto and Walton's wonderfully entertaining one-Act opera The Bear are given pretty short shrift. But, to be fair, Powell has not written a hagiography : neither the composer himself nor his (astonishingly large) body of work is exempt from critical comment. Yet any fair-minded reader can surely only admire Britten's huge achievement, especially given that throughout his working life he was hampered by frequent illnesses and general bad health. His long-time professional and personal partner, Peter Pears, naturally looms large in the story : their collaboration was unique in the history of music.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marjorie Harrison on 20 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Britten has been my favourite British composer for as long as I can remember. A ceremony of Carols was my introduction to his music.. This book is interesting because it explores in detail the music and some of the processes of composition. Also it provides an honest picture of Britten the man behind the music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AH on 7 Jun. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Loved this book. Gave different insights into Britten and his world. Would recommend this to Britten aficionados out there. Excellent.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Suzette A. Hill on 21 April 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Plenty of material here both for the general reader and for Britten afficionados: a searching, succinct and sympathetic analyisis of Britten's musical and personal life. Vivid vignettes of his friends and colleagues.
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