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  • Published: 11 April 2014
  • ISBN: 9781846142338
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 688
  • RRP: $29.99

Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century



Benjamin Britten was Britain's greatest twentieth-century composer, who broke decisively with figures such as Elgar and Vaughan Williams and recreated English music in a fresh, modern, European form.

Benjamin Britten was Britain's greatest twentieth-century composer, who broke decisively with figures such as Elgar and Vaughan Williams and recreated English music in a fresh, modern, European form.  Paul Kildea's biography is now the definitive account of Britten's extraordinary life, exploring his passionately held and controversial pacifism; his complex forty-year relationship with Peter Pears; and his determined - sometimes ruthless - making of an artistic community in Aldeburgh.  Above all, the book helps us understand the relationship of Britten's music to his life, and takes us as far into his creative process as we are ever likely to go. 'Enthralling . . . a truly fascinating portrait of a genius.' Richard Morrison, The Times 'Indispensable . . . this is a masterly, highly readable account.' Barry Millington, Evening Standard 'It feels definitive.' Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times 'Bracingly opinionated and beautifully articulated.  Brings all Britten's complexities vividly to life.' Rupert Christiansen, Spectator 'A compelling portrait of Britten not just as a brilliant composer, but a significant historical figure.' Adam Lively, Sunday Times, Books of the Year 'A major achievement.  Kildea is a dazzling writer . . . who writes so naturally and musically and well.  There are a million brilliant, beautiful or striking sentences.' Jay Nordlinger, Standpoint 'Delightful and compelling.' Matthew Bell, Independent on Sunday

  • Published: 11 April 2014
  • ISBN: 9781846142338
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 688
  • RRP: $29.99

About the author

Paul Kildea

Paul Kildea is a writer and conductor who has performed many of the Britten works he writes about, in opera houses and concert halls from Sydney to Hamburg. He has written extensively on the relationship between music and culture in the twentieth century: his previous books include Selling Britten (2002) and (as editor) Britten on Music (2003). He was Head of Music at the Aldeburgh Festival between 1999 and 2002 and subsequently Artistic Director of the Wigmore Hall in London. He lives in Berlin.

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