I sit at home in Suffolk, typing and listening to Radio 3, while a nation celebrates, posthumously, the hundredth birthday of one of its greatest musical sons – it is Britten’s centenary. He had the good fortune to be born on St Cecilia’s day, patron saint of music. He also had the good fortune –
a) to compose a set of songs named Friday Afternoons
b) to have his centenary fall on a Friday
c) to have someone put two and two together, and devise an international day of singing Britten’s songs on November 22nd, 2013, which started in Auckland at 3am this morning, our time.
Today, too, the Britten 50p pieces are released to the general public. A first-class stamp has been in circulation since April. BBC Radio 3 is in residence at Aldeburgh, where Britten lived, for the weekend, and I am listening to an excerpt from Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings from In Tune right now.
The theme of my blogposts this year has been Death in Venice . I suppose it is the Visconti film which is the most widely known version of Thomas Mann’s novella. An excellent article by Ian Bostridge, however, is a fine introduction to Britten’s opera of the same name. Below, courtesy of Opera North, Richard Farnes and Alan Oke discuss Britten’s approach –
It is Britten’s final opera, and he wrote it when ill with the heart problem which finally caused his death. Britten is buried in the churchyard at Aldeburgh; nearby are the graves of Peter Pears and Imogen Holst, pictured with Britten in the photograph above. But today is a day for the celebration of his life. As Aldeburgh Music’s publicity for the centenary announces – Britten Lives Here. 1913-2013. Enjoy the weekend!