Photographs and Audio-visual collections

Photograph collection

Production photograph of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, June 1967. Photographer John Richardson

The Archive holds thousands of photographs and negatives covering many aspects of the lives of Britten, Pears and their friends and colleagues. The core collection, originally belonging to Britten and Pears, ranges from numerous professional portraits and photographs of them performing, through to their holiday snaps and pictures of informal gatherings with friends.

The related collections include the English Opera Group archive with production photographs of the premieres of many of Britten’s operas, ‘behind-the-scenes’ images of the company in rehearsal, and of the musicians and sets. Some include performances at the Aldeburgh Festival which provide a record of the Festival through the years.

Peter Pears and Julian Bream in New York, 1974. Photographer Victor Parker

The collections include work by photographers Cecil Beaton, Erich Auerbach, Maria Austria, Angus McBean, Zoe Dominic, Nigel Luckhurst, Enid Slater, George Rodger, Lotte Meitner-Graf, Kurt Hutton, Roger Wood, Hans Wild, Clive Strutt, Brian Seed, Walter Rawlings, Edward Morgan, Houston Rogers, Victor Parker, and many others.

Audio-visual collections

The Audio-visual collections is wide-ranging and includes Britten and Pears’ own record collection, historic live recordings from the Aldeburgh Festival featuring premieres of works by many 20th century British composers – some of which have never been made commercially available. There are also recordings of broadcasts relating to Britten and Pears and their work, along with an extensive oral history archive.

We also seek to acquire a copy of every new commercial release of works by Britten.

Oral history

There has been a long tradition of gathering oral history at The Red House: from early cassettes and hard copy typewritten transcripts to recent DVCam films and audio files.

We run an ongoing oral history programme capturing the memories of people who knew and worked with Britten and Pears.

For similar projects, visit Oral History – Aldeburgh Voices, a resource created by the Aldeburgh and District Local History Society, which include recordings of interviews with people from Aldeburgh.

We are in the process of cataloguing and digitising our photographic and audio-visual collections. Many have been both catalogued and digitised and are available to view on our online archive catalogue.