- Hardcover: 334 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (1 Jun. 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571228399
- ISBN-13: 978-0571228393
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.9 x 22.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 186,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Britten's Children Hardcover – 1 Jun 2006
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More About the Author
His most recent film is 'Britten's Endgame', made for the centenary of Benjamin Britten in 2013 and now available on a Decca DVD, as is his earlier film 'Britten's Children' (2004). He also wrote and directed 'Requiem' (BBC Four, 2013) and 'Colin Davis in His Own Words' (BBC Four, 2013), which has won a gold award at the French television festival FIPA. Among other films he has directed are: 'Rostropovich: The Genius of the Cello' (2011), 'Delius: Composer, Lover, Enigma' (2012), 'A Jubilee Tribute to the Queen by the Prince of Wales' (2012, and available on DVD through Amazon) and 'The Prince and the Composer' (2011), a film about Hubert Parry by HRH The Prince of Wales (also available on DVD). His 2010 portrait, 'Elgar: The Man behind the Mask', won awards at BAFTA and at the Golden Prague TV festival.
He has also made film profiles of Vaughan Williams, Rudolf Nureyev, Prince Charles, Hillary Clinton and The Queen.
Bridcut's fair, open-minded and superbly written book ... deserves
to achieve the status of a classic. -- Michael Kennedy, Opera Magazine
By following a single thread, he creates a narrative more
illuminating and more gripping than those found in many an exhaustive
cradle-to-grave biography. -- Lucasta Miller, The Guardian
Gripping, revelatory and a bit shocking... The outstanding music
book of the year. -- Richard Morrison, The Times
One of the most enlightening studies of Britten that has appeared
-- David Matthews, The Times Literary Supplement
Unstuffy, often funny, frequently heart-rending, and always hugely
readable... It sends you back to the work well-informed and newly
enthused. -- Peter Parker, The Daily Telegraph
A unique and moving re-assessment of Benjamin Britten by the award-winning film director, John Bridcut.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
In today's society, these friendships would undoubtedly be viewed with suspicion. But what comes across is the depth of affection between the boys and Britten. Dare one call it love?
The book also deals with Britten's own children, ie his music. The author analyses the music that Britten wrote for children to perform (eg: 'Noye's Fludde', 'Cermony of Carols') as well as those works in which boys' voices are utilised (eg: 'Spring Symphony'). These analyses are succinct and non-academic and, in some cases, revealed aspects of his music I had not noticed before, even though I have been listening to Britten's music for over thirty five years.
The author also looks at various childish aspects of Britten's personality, for example his fondness for the card game 'Happy Families', his delight in gobbledegook, his love of fast cars.
It is telling that the book is entitled 'Britten's Children' when it more accurately should be called 'Britten's Boys'. I guess the author and/or publishers felt that that would be a step too far.
Bridcut was not only one in overlooking Britten's women. Carpenter did the same until years after publication I got in touch and he was horrified at his oversight. It is just that sometimes biographers see what they want to see and never look for contrary evidence that might alter their narrative. I mean 'everyone' knows Britten was 'gay', 'everyone' says so but Britten didn't. He said he was normal! I wouldn't go quite that far but he did like ladies too and this does make a difference.
I knew Britten well. I was his favourite for over five years. I worked for him for the first performance of 'Noyes Fludde' with Michael Crawford who too hardly features in this book but after Hemmings was a tremendous favourite . I was Britten's first young 'Flora' in 'The Turn of the Screw'. Britten had looked for a 'Flora' for years and had put 'The Screw' on the shelf until he found one. Once he did he saw to it that I was looked after by doing it himself. I was there for five years and yet nobody saw me until now! Britten watched me grow up!
So how many other children were missed out?
However I still give it a four stars as it is an interesting read and well worth the money.
There are a few assumptions which seem to me unlikely, e.g. the withdrawal of Young Apollo for personal reasons (whereas "Antique" from Les Illuminations composed at the same period and bearing the same dedication was never withdrawn). But the author is always cautious and makes it clear when he is only making assumptions (which he does not often).
If Bridcut states in his Preface that "there is no obligation on those who admire, even adore, the music to feel the same about the man ", well... the book eventually rather confirms St Matthew's "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Mt 7,16) - or, in Peter Pears's words: "He was a good man. How could he not be having written all that beautiful music?"
The author was, as he says, "lucky enough to work with Britten" (as a singer) and the book is also insightful into Britten's music in so far as children's voices are involved.
A very pleasant reading too.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you love the music of Britten, then you will absolutely love this remarkably sensitive yet honest treatment of a really difficult subject. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Guy Chapman
I very much enjoyed this book. Having recently moved to Suffolk I have become even more interested in Britten and this book didn't disappoint.Published on 23 Jan. 2014 by walby
If I could only own one book (apart from the Bible) this would be it. John Bridcut's story of this great British composer is written with sensitivity, honesty and fairness. Read morePublished on 27 Nov. 2013 by Robert Attewell
Well written and interesting. It gave a fair account of Britten's relationship with children, as well as some useful tips about the whole process of composition.Published on 25 Nov. 2013 by Hugo