Thursday April 25 2019
Visitors to the Archive building will find a new display case in the foyer where they can view recent acquisitions to The Red House collections. Currently displayed are a selection of items we were delighted to receive in 2018. A number of our 2018 acquisitions have already proved useful to researchers in the reading room or displayed in our temporary exhibitions.
We were pleased to add to the archive letters from Britten to, amongst others, Suffolk historian Norman Scarfe, University of Glasgow’s Cecilian Society, and broadcaster and music critic John Amis. It is great to be able to join these letters with the ones received by Britten and so present both sides of the correspondence. Letters deposited with us from Britten to Charles Tait (son of Britten’s doctor in Aldeburgh) from the 1970s are wonderfully chatty as Britten relates everyday happenings at The Red House giving us a glimpse of his daily life: in December 1971 Britten writes about his walks with dachshund Gilda and her habit of collecting stones!
Photographs given to the archive last year include images of Britten with Gilda and The Red House garden. A folder of snaps taken in June 1966 by Pears have found their way back to The Red House: Pears gave these to Scarfe to use when mounting an exhibition entitled ’20 Aldeburgh Festivals’ in the old railway station during the 1968 Aldeburgh Festival exhibition.
A gift of The Red House visitors’ book from the period when artist Mary Potter and her husband Stephen lived there reveals an interesting history of the house before it was Britten and Pears’ home. Signatures of those staying at the house show that Henry Moore and his wife Irina visited during the 1952 Aldeburgh Festival. Britten and Pears themselves stayed with the Potters at the beginning of February 1953 following the disastrous flood which hit the East Coast of England in the early morning of 1 February. They took refuge at The Red House as Crag House, their home located on the seafront in Aldeburgh, was flooded.
Programmes have been given to our collections filling in gaps in our holdings, including Noye’s Fludde, War Requiem (including the first performance in the USSR on 25 December 1964 in Leningrad), St John Passion and Cocteau’s The Eagle has Two Heads.
Other acquisitions include costume designs by Margaret Harris for the first stage performance of the revised version of Paul Bunyan at Snape Maltings in June 1976 and memories of Britten recorded by his nephew Sebastian Welford, singer Tim German and director Gordon McKechnie. Altogether a varied collection of items newly available to our researchers!
The Britten-Pears Foundation actively collects items relating to Britten and his works, to Pears and to composers, artists, performers and organisations closely associated with Britten. We are always pleased to be offered material to add to our collections: to be preserved and made available to researchers and visitors.