Paul Kildea may well regret the furore which surrounded the publication of this book early in 2013, because it has largely obscured objective criticism of his splendid biography. Setting aside the issue of syphilis and Britten's heart condition - readers can make up their minds about this for themselves - I believe this to be the most balanced and enlightening examination of the composer's life and creative process now available. Kildea's background as a conductor and his tremendous literary style make this a most compelling read. It offers a brilliant overview of the cutural and social context in which Britten composed, with many revealing insights into the motivations and influence of other leading musicians, writers, dancers, singers, poets and artists. Moreover it succeeds in whetting the reader's appetite for the music itself, not just the great works, but also the many smaller but often brilliant pieces which have already fallen into obscurity. It is a weighty tome, so I recommend purchase in the Kindle edition.
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