Jennifer Vyvyan and Benjamin Britten

Jennifer Vyvyan and Benjamin Britten

Thursday November 26 2020

A new website has recently been launched to commorate the soprano Jennifer Vyvyan. To mark this new resource for information on her life and career, we feature some material from our own collection that highlights her important connection with Britten. Jennifer Vyvyan made her debut with the recently-formed English Opera Group in May 1948, taking […]

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. […]

Basil Coleman papers catalogued

Monday November 9 2020

The papers of Basil Coleman have been newly catalogued and are now available to researchers. Details of the collection’s contents can be found on our online catalogue. The papers represent the life of a noted opera, theatre, and television director, who was an essential part of the Britten story and a pioneer of television operas. […]

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 […]

Lockdown Accessions

Friday October 2 2020

Our Archive has been fortunate to be able to continue receiving items to add to the collections during the 2020 pandemic. As people sorted through their cupboards and drawers, decluttering their houses during lockdown, some discovered old programmes, photographs, magazines and letters which they have now kindly passed on to us. These are mostly items […]

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 […]