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Benjamin Britten


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About the Author

Michael Oliver, who sadly died in 2002, was a well known as a writer and broadcaster, having written and compiled numerous programmes for BBC Radio 3 and written regularly for Gramophone and other magazines for over 20 years


Similar to other volumes in Phaidon's "20th Century Composers" series, including Oliver's own Igor Stravinsky (LJ 2/15/96), this latest effort treats British composer Britten's life and works in strict chronological order, with detailed, easily intelligible discussions of major compositions. He deals forthrightly with Britten's homosexuality and its influence on his music without stooping to innuendo and gossip. Some personal opinions surface but do not detract measurably from the text, which illustrates Britten's development from youthful studies with Frank Bridge and John Ireland to later acclaim as one of Great Britain's most important contemporary composers. Abundant photographs and illuminating quotes from Britten's own writings are interspersed throughout. This book covers the same territory as Humphrey Carpenter's excellent Benjamin Britten: A Biography (LJ 6/15/93), albeit in a considerably condensed format. Enthusiastically recommended for all music collections as well as for general academic or public libraries that do not hold Carpenter's work.-Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, Ohio

"Enthusiastically recommended."-Library Journal

"Finely balanced and beautifully written."-Opera

"Masterfully written. A highly recommended book."-Scenaria

"Michael Oliver's Phaidon volume on Britten is one of the best in the series to date. The only regret, says Michael Tanner, is that the book isn't longer."-Classic CD

On the 20th Century Composers Series

"As a series, Phaidon's 20th Century Composers has brought remarkable variety and a welter of information, both necessary and delightfully trivial. Intended both for the general reader and for the more enthusiastically musical."-The Scotsman

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