Archive Treasures: Letters from an American in London

Archive Treasures: Letters from an American in London

Monday November 30 2020

In October 1951 American baritone Theodor (‘Ted’) Uppman arrived in England to begin rehearsing the title role in Britten’s new opera Billy Budd with the premiere scheduled for 1st December. During his stay Uppman wrote regularly to his wife Jean back home in North Hollywood and we are fortunate that Uppman’s family has given these […]

Archive Treasures: Britten, Grainger and a Birthday Gift

Monday November 16 2020

As we approach Britten’s 107th birthday a tale from the Archive tells us of a birthday gift that was not only practical, but which also carried great personal meaning for the composer. ‘Lovingly and reverently dedicated to the memory of Percy Grainger’ is how Britten worded his dedication to the Suite on English Folk Tunes, op. […]

Archive Treasures: Britten’s centenary archive

Tuesday November 3 2020

To celebrate Britten’s 50th birthday in 1963 many of Britten’s friends and colleagues contributed to the volume ‘Tribute to Benjamin Britten on his Fiftieth Birthday’ edited by Anthony Gishford and published by Faber and Faber. For this birthday gift, Gishford asked contributors for ‘something that they themselves liked and that they thought would give the […]

Archive Treasures: Young Men and Fast Cars

Monday October 19 2020

What if…? The archive at the Red House documents, in remarkable detail, the lives and careers of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. Perhaps less obviously, it documents a whole parallel universe of the works that Britten did not compose: the ideas that were abandoned and the projects that were aborted. The archive, then, is a […]

Archive Treasures: Books for the Young and Young at Heart

Monday October 5 2020

Britten explained to his assistant Imogen Holst that the exuberance in the music he wrote for children arose from the fact that he was ‘still thirteen’. He looked back on his own childhood with great fondness. Some of the evidence for that nostalgia can be found amid his book collection. A number of the tales […]

Archive Treasures: Imogen Holst’s scrapbooks and The Pipers’ Guild

Monday September 21 2020

Amongst Imogen Holst’s papers held in our collections are ten large scrapbooks which she started as a student at the Royal College of Music in 1926, and continued to put together until 1941. These are fantastic, interesting and colourful volumes. She pasted a myriad of ephemera into the volumes – newspaper cuttings, tickets, programmes, photographs, […]

Archive Treasures: Britten and The Tempest

Monday September 7 2020

We know several stories about Britten being lured back to write for the big screen. Few such tales straddled the decades like that of his hope to work with John Gielgud on a film version of The Tempest. During the mid-1950s Gielgud discussed with Peter Brook a possible production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. He wrote […]

Archive Treasures: Britten’s wheelchair

Tuesday September 1 2020

In 1975 Benjamin Britten was a sick man: two years before he had suffered a stroke in the course of an operation to replace a failing heart valve, and his health had never fully recovered. His mobility was restricted, and he was physically fragile. He, and those around him, seem to have felt that he […]

Archive Treasures: Music manuscript for Britten’s Piano Concerto

Monday August 24 2020

Our archive preserves thousands of Britten’s music manuscripts from his juvenilia – his earliest notes written from the age of five – to his unfinished Praise We Great Men. Numerous treasures from every stage of the composition process – from first sketches to published editions. However, the full score fair copy of Britten’s Piano Concerto […]

Archive Treasures: Britten and Bennett

Monday August 17 2020

In 1965 film director John Schlesinger approached Britten to supply a soundtrack for what would become a film classic. The composer’s reluctant decline provided an opportunity for one of his most gifted followers. The Archive tells their story. ‘Dear Mr Britten, I hope you will forgive me for writing to you out of the blue […]