Essential Britten

Faber and Faber

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For the Britten centenary in 2013, a special updated edition of John Bridcut's Pocket Guide to the composer.  It contains fresh material, including the full text of Britten's acceptance speech at the first Aspen Award ceremony in Colorado in 1964.

Its 446 pages cover the nooks and crannies of Benjamin Britten's life and music which other books often overlook, with chapters on his cars, his pets, his homes, his ailments.  There is a year-by-year account of his life, and a piece-by-piece account of all his music, capped with collections of witty, affectionate, sometimes cruel quotes: 'What They Said About Britten', and 'What Britten Said About Them'.  

The book can be purchased from this website at the sale price of £8.99.




'Get ahead with this smartly organised and attractively written guide.

'Eschewing a full-dress life, Bridcut expertly spans a wide gamut of genres – quizzes to lists; catalogues to chronicles – to capture every side of the life and work.

'Playful, eclectic, virtuosic, this browsable delight is like some scholarly equivalent of Britten's early showpiece, the Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge.'

Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

'This invaluable book ... is essential for anybody interested in the composer, and deserves a place in many a Christmas stocking.'

Peter Spaull, Liverpool Daily Post


5.0 out of 5 stars
Fun Guide to Britten, 26 Mar 2013
By M. D. Holley (Kent, UK)

A light hearted and fun guide for Britten's anniversary year. This is full of lists of trivia and other bits and pieces. But the most useful is the section containing reviews of all the major music, together with Bridcut's one to five rating system. Britten was extremely prolific, so I am finding the rating system very handy to help me prioritise my listening.


5.0 out of 5 stars
Written with enthusiasm, 7 Mar 2013  By 5:8:13

This is a book which you don't have to read cover to cover, although you will end up having read all the pages. It approaches many aspects of Britten's work and life in an unusual and engaging way. Bridcut is clearly an enthusiast and admirer, but this is a personal view and in no way sycophantic: he is not afraid to admit that he rates some of Britten's works less than others. If you are already well-informed about Britten you will find the format refreshing with its list of 'must hear works', views on Britten from other notable figures in the arts and comments on all Britten's works by genre. There is a lot packed into this small book and it would make an ideal gift.


5.0 out of 5 stars
Indispensable book on a major composer, 24 Dec 2012
By G. Slater (Cambridge UK)  

I have bought most previous books on Britten whom I have admired since my schooldays in the 1940s. Even so I find this little book a fascinating guide to his life and work. It is very inexpensive for what it is and were I younger I would insist on a hardback as it is the sort of book one turns to first for information.

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