Archive Treasures: Music manuscript for Britten’s Piano Concerto

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 […]

Archive Treasures: Joan Cross’ wartime cast books

Monday August 3 2020

Joan Cross began her operatic career in 1923 when she joined the chorus of the Vic-Wells Opera Company, then throughout the 1930s she enjoyed success as one of the leading sopranos of the Sadler’s Wells Opera Company taking on a wide range of solo roles. In September 1940 Sadler’s Wells Theatre was requisitioned by Finsbury […]

Archive Treasures: Decimalisation

Monday July 27 2020

The archive at the Red House tells the story of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears: their lives together, their creative work and how they formed part of a wider creative circle. Like any archive, however, its content is broad and unpredictable: the story of a life is also the story of that person’s times, and […]

Archive Treasures: Hardy’s Time’s Laughingstocks and Other Verses

Monday July 13 2020

Britten owned a large collection of verse anthologies as well as volumes of specific authors in his library. Of these volumes the one with the most interesting provenance may be this first edition of Thomas Hardy’s poems – Time’s Laughingstocks and Other Verses. Two letters from Hardy found in the cover of the volume reveal […]

Archive Treasures: African National Congress

Tuesday July 7 2020

In the archive at the Red House, there is shelf after shelf of Benjamin Britten’s correspondence: its cataloguing was recently completed by a team of volunteers, after which the final total stood at over eleven thousand files. Much of it is professional and there is also personal correspondence such as the intimate, affectionate letters that […]

Archive Treasures: From Dr. Who’s Daleks to Britten’s baleful fisherman

Monday June 8 2020

Wonder what the above could possibly have in common? In three words: David Myerscough-Jones. Discover more about the work this artist did when he envisioned Britten’s Borough and ghosts for television Following studies in his native Lancashire this talented artist embarked on a career in designing for theatre first in Scotland and later in London. In […]

Archive treasure: Pears’ copy of Mansfield Park

Monday June 1 2020

As one would expect, the Britten Pears Archive strong room is full of stories about works Britten composed. Just as interesting though are the stories about works which weren’t written. Some projects got no further than a letter suggesting them to Britten. Such a letter was sent from poet Philip Larkin in 1974 explaining that […]

Reynolds Stone, Britten, Pears and their Bookplate

Wednesday May 6 2020

During a time when catching up on reading is a viable option for many of us, find out how Britten and Pears’ unique and beautiful bookplate came to be made. Britten and Pears were incorrigible bibliophiles. Like many booklovers, they were eager to declare ownership of their collection, to have a personalised Ex Libris. And […]

Acquisition of Lennox and Freda Berkeley’s papers

Thursday April 30 2020

Britten Pears Arts is delighted to have acquired for its collections the papers of composer Lennox Berkeley and his wife Freda. The purchase of these papers was made possible by grants provided by The Friends of the National Libraries, The Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, The Pilgrim Trust and one anonymous […]