on 5 February 2014
Britten once wrote to Pears : "what have I done to deserve such an artist and man to write for?" If the artist seems well known, it may be of interest to try and learn more about the man. But the book is valuable in both respects.
This biography of Sir Peter Pears is written by a person who knew him well and is more reliable and of course also more detailed than what can be found about Pears in some of Britten's biographies. It is also a good complement to any Britten biography and especially corrective of Kildea's speculations. It gives Pears his proper place in Britten's life - a "rock" and "a mother hen" among other things - and reveals much of Pears's interesting personality through a well researched narrative and many excerpts of letters to Britten (some of them unpublished in "Letters from a Life") and to others, parts of his travel diaries, commentaries of Britten's and others' music (Schubert, Bach). I found the many details about Pears's singing and his other musical skills (as a piano accompanist for example, but he also played the bassoon and the viola and had been an organist) and the stories and anecdotes (musical and otherwise) exceptionally interesting. A pleasant reading also.