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Britten's Children Hardcover – 1 Jun 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • 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)

More About the Author

John Bridcut is an author and film-maker. He has published two books: 'Essential Britten' (Faber and Faber 2012) and 'Britten's Children' (Faber and Faber 2006), both available on Amazon.

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.

Product Description

Review

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
so far.
-- 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

Book Description

A unique and moving re-assessment of Benjamin Britten by the award-winning film director, John Bridcut.

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Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book deal with the contentious subject of Benjamin Britten's intense friendships with adolescent boys. It expands on the author's television documentary which was shown to great critical acclaim in June 2004.

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.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent read as well as giving enormous detail on Britten's music. Coming at his music from a different perspective, John Bridcut makes a good case for the influence of children upon his composing and gives much insight as to why Britten's music was so successful, particularly for voices. It also gives details of how his special ability to relate to children led him often to assist financially with their education. The book is highly informative and, working chronologically through Britten's life, provides much fascinating detail on individual works.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book with great interest because I was a Britten 'child'. Sadly I did not make the 'cut' because I was a girl and like all girls at Aldeburgh I was there but not seen! The problem seems to be that John Bridcut never looked and he should have done because it makes a big difference. In fact it can alter the way in which we judge this famous and in some way infamous composer. Britten liked both. He was a perfect gentleman who liked children, girls and boys and didn't have any of his own.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A good book if you don't take it for what it is NOT: a biography of Britten. But a good complement to a biography (especially for the years 1938 to 1941) if you have already read one, or to "Letters from a Life" (which come very close to a detailed biography).
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a superb book - well written and entertaining to read, excellently researched, personal in tone but measured in the author's viewpoint and his appraisal of the difficult subject of Britten's relationships with young and adolescent boys. It paints a well-rounded picture of Britten himself, including his great personal kindness to the children he befriended, and the book is particularly good on the subject of the composer's own fixation on boyhood. I learned a great deal from it.
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