Great Britten

"It is the quality which cannot be acquired by simply the exercise of a technique or a system - it is something to do with personality, with gift, with spirit. I quite simply call it magic, a quality which would appear to be by no means unacknowledged by scientists, and which I value more than any other part of music."
From Britten's acceptance speech when awarded the first Aspen Award.

Benjamin Britten was born on 22nd November 1913 in Lowestoft, Suffolk.

The anniversary of the birth of the most important British composer of the second half of the 20th century is shared with several other events. Happily today is also St Cecilia's Day, and she is of course the patron saint of musicians.

Less happily today is the anniversary of the assasination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963.

I know it is of several orders of magnitude less important than those events, but I also was born on 22nd November. I listened to my favourite travel writer, Patrick Leigh-Fermor, on my favourite radio programme, Private Passions, two weeks back. Leigh-Fermor (who celebrated his 90th birthday this year!) mentioned Robert Byron's classic book about Mount Athos, The Station, which I have never read. I checked the excellent online Norfolk Library database to find a single copy in the county, acquired in 1949 - the year of my birth. I ordered it, thinking that the chance of it being found was zero. Today the copy arived for me to collect - on my birthday. I wonder how many html files of music blogs will be traceable in the year 2061?

Picture credit - Britten-Pears Foundation
Report broken links, missing images, and other errors to - overgrownpath at blogspot dot co dot uk

If you enjoyed this post take an overgrown path to
Easter at Aldeburgh, and Death of a library.


Garth Trinkl said…
Happy birthday, pliable. Have a safe and wonderful trip to Berlin.

And thanks for the past year of -- now certified -- highest quality blogging (whatever blogging is).
Pliable said…
Thanks Garth, appreciated. Yes, we are off to the airport in a few hours to revisit that political flashpoint - Berlin. We should be there to catch the end of the excitement over Angela Merkel's installation as Chancellor.

But On An Overgrown Path never takes a holiday.The articles will continue (including one more today I think) - so say tuned....

And I wish all my US readers a great, and peaceful, Thanksgiving holiday.
Pliable said…
Should also have added that among the books I am taking is an English translation of Peter Schneider's Berlin novel The Wall Jumper which is getting a lot of 'word of mouth'recommendations. I'll report back on it, and would welcome any other reader's views. Ian McEwan and others are singing its praises loudly.
Kathy said…
Have a wonderful birthday and a great trip!
Henry Holland said…
Some of the greatest nights in the theatre I've ever had have come courtesy of Britten's music: a staggering War Requiem with Sir Thomas Allen and Andre Previn here in Los Angeles during the first Gulf War; a searing Billy Budd with Robert Tear's Vere just out of this world; James King -- RIP, died at 80 recently -- in the same opera, with James Morris a scary as all heck Claggart; a beautifully sung and staged Turn of the Screw that had me in a daze for days and most of all, a mind bending Death in Venice with Kenneth Riegel in San Francisco.

What a profoundly great composer, he'd easily make my 2nd tier of opera composers (Verdi, Wagner, Puccini and Mozart are the top shelf).

I was able to visit his and Peter Pears grave in Aldeburgh in the 1990's; I still have that picture sitting on my desk.

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