The composer Benjamin Britten was a central figure of 20th century music; and the national composer that Britain had been searching for since the death of Henry Purcell in 1695. He never shook his Communist and pacifist sympathies –– even as he rose to the highest levels of elite British cultural production. A fervent pacifist, antinationalist, and homosexual –– with a deep, complex, and troubling love of children –– Britten, through the strength of his music and through the nation’s desire to have a musical hero of its own, became an utterly unlikely national celebrity.
Content warning: this episode contains discussions of sexual attraction to children.
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Bridcut, John. Britten’s Children. Main edition. London: Faber and Faber, 2006.
Britten, Benjamin. Peter Grimes. London: BBC, 1969. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MyBUetbE38&t=1705s
Conlon, James. “Message, Meaning and Code in the Operas of Benjamin Britten." Hudson Review LXVI, no. 3 (Autumn 2013). https://hudsonreview.com/2013/10/message-meaning-and-code-in-the-operas-of-benjamin-britten/
Kildea, Paul. Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century. Allen Lane, 2013.
Ryan, Hugh. When Brooklyn Was Queer: A History. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2019.
Our intro music is Arpeggia Colorix by Yann Terrien, downloaded from WFMU's Free Music Archive and distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Our outro music is by DJ Michaeloswell Graphicsdesigner.