Archive Treasures: Thirty-seven love – Britten, Pears, sport and recreation at the Red House

Archive Treasures: Browsing the Bookshelves – Reading Britten and Pears

Friday February 12 2021

Close inspection of the bookshelves in The Red House reveals a number of volumes that must have had special resonance for Britten and Pears. These titles come under the category of ‘gay literature,’ though they were part of The Red House library well before that term gained common usage. What is interesting is that, whether […]

Archive Treasures: Love in the accounts

Thursday February 4 2021

The archive at The Red House spans all aspects of Britten and Pears’ lives together – from their professional activities, the compositions and performances that made them world famous, to the everyday details of their household here.  Every scrap of paper tells a story – and they kept virtually everything.  The story of their long relationship, the […]

Archive Treasures: East meets West in the Archive

Thursday January 21 2021

Rostropovich, Menuhin, Richter – asked to compile a list of musicians who worked with Britten and Pears, there are some obvious names. Likewise, asked to name Western musicians who explored Indian culture in the 1960s, most people would come up with names from the world of rock music. Less well known is the way that […]

Archive Treasures: Young composers and ancient carols

Monday December 14 2020

In August 1918 Gustav Holst gave his 11 year old daughter a volume of Christmas carols which Imogen treasured all her life and now forms part of her collection of papers and manuscripts held in our archive. The volume is entitled Ancient English Christmas Carols 1400-1700, collected and arranged by Edith Rickert and published by […]

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 […]

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