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Britten digitisation

The British Library is pleased to announce the launch of a new exhibition on Benjamin Britten, running from 31 May to 15 September 2013. This free exhibition explores the literary influences on Britten's music, from Shakespeare and Jonson to Auden and Isherwood, as well as some of the political and musical influences that shaped his work. Included are:

  • the draft score of Britten's music for Instruments of the Orchestra (repurposed as The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra), acquired by the British Library in 2012
  • other autograph manuscripts, including the music for Night Mail, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings
  • photographs, concert programmes and archival material drawn from the Muir Mathieson, Malcolm Sargent and Donald Mitchell archives at the British Library
  • extracts from rare or unique sound recordings, including the first productions of Paul Bunyan (1941) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (1960), the whole of the first broadcast performance of Curlew River (1964), and unpublished test pressings of Funeral Blues and Tell me the truth about love performed by Britten and Peter Pears.

To mark Britten's centenary, the British Library has also digitised all of its Britten manuscripts, which are now available online at in a special arrangement with the rights holders. Many of the manuscripts are on permanent loan to the Britten-Pears Library in Aldeburgh, under the terms of Britten's will, so we hope the digital facsimiles will make it easy for researchers and others with an interest in Britten to study his manuscripts wherever they are.

In addition, a number of talks and performances have been arranged.


Posted: 1 June 2013 by Sandra Tuppen

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