An important study on a rather neglected aspect of Britten's personality,
This review is from: Benjamin Britten: The Spiritual Dimension (Oxford Studies in British Church Music) (Hardcover)As Britten has defined himself as a "christian composer" one can wonder that such a book has not been written untill 30 years after the composer's death !
Britten's spirituality - this lesser explored yet important aspect of his personality - is thoroughly examined in his life and work ; the 1st part of the book includes comments from Sir Peter Pears and from two friends clergymen; the 2nd part concerns mainly Britten's music, i.e. the "parable" aspect of his sacred but also of his secular music, the theme of redemption which is also to be found in the operas, the christian dimension of the theme related to the vulnerability of innocence. Many musical examples are produced and most of their analysis is accessible also to the average music lover, for whom the book is also suited.
I was only a little disappointed by the fact that the author seems to explain Britten's spirituality only as "rooted in his childhood" ; why not also as a result of a personal questionning? Britten seems to have had an "agnostic" period in the Thirties, so it must have been a change, this time rooted in his individuality, between his youth and the moment when he prepared himself to receive the Holy Communion before his death (e.g. letter of 1940 to Lennox Berkeley in "Letters from a Life" vol 2, page 752: "more and more I am being pushed off my old materialistic beliefs").
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