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Benjamin Britten: A Life For Music Paperback – 27 Feb 2014

4.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Windmill Books (27 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099537362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099537366
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 561,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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] 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)

"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)

"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

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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Top 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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Format: Paperback
There is no doubt in my mind that Britten is a truly great composer. Powell would certainly concur with that, but to the point of wariness with any criticism of the man or his music. The book becomes a hagiography, which is a shame as there is much good in it, especially in its clear analysis of the music. As for the man, I would read other biographies which get to grip with some of the more awkward aspects of Britten's life. Powell seems to either gloss over them or defend him to the point where you wonder whether there is true integrity to his approach in this worthy, but flawed biography.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very well written, well researched and perceptive, particularly in his comments on the music. A little turgid in style at times and marred by an over-positive reaction to the really rather unsatisfactory evidence as to the cause of Britten's heart problems. However highly recommended.
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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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