In essence

Up close with composers

A brave New World: Britten and Pears I

Having resisted the sexual advances of WH Auden, who eventually turned rather spiteful and detailed Benji’s defects of character in an acerbic letter, “I am certain too that it is your denial and evasion of the demands of disorder that [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 25th, 2013
From Purcell to Mahler: Britten, Purcell and Mahler

Besides studying and emulating the works of 20th century composers, Benjamin Britten became increasingly fascinated by English music of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, most notably the music of Henry Purcell. He wrote, “One of my chief aims [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 23rd, 2013
Au Clair de la Lune

The French folk song Au Clair de la Lune is a greater celebrity than its simple tune might suggest. Not only is it well known especially in France (even used by some mid-wives to teach labour breathing techniques) and popularly [...] more >>

by Ian Pong | September 22nd, 2013
Ferdinando and his Magical Keyboard

Lodovico Giustini: 12 Sonate da cimbalo di piano e forte, Op. 1, No. 1 Sometimes, the course of musical history is utterly changed by the split decision of a single individual. When Ferdinando de’Medici, Grand Prince of the Duchy of [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 20th, 2013
Whatever Horowitz wants, Horowitz gets! Samuel Barber : Excursions

Excursions, Op. 20 Horowitz plays 1, 2 and 4 Excursions, Op. 20 No. 3 Nadia Reisenberg By the early 1940’s, the pianist Vladimir Samoylovich Horowitz — and his conducting father-in law Arturo Toscanini — had reached the pinnacle of fame [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 14th, 2013
The Three “B’s”. Britten, Bridge, and Berg

During his apprenticeship with Frank Bridge, Benjamin Britten began work on a set of variations on a theme by his teacher. It took Britten 5 years and a specific request from the conductor Boyd Neel and the Salzburg Festival in [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 11th, 2013
Tying the knot Medici style!

For most of us — and I have been down the aisles twice — weddings tend to be rather jolly affairs; amongst much food, drink and pageantry, a varying number of relatives and friends come together to witness the ritual [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 9th, 2013
Coming out! Britten, Auden, and Berkeley

While Benji Britten was delighting in his fondness for the young of his own sex, he himself became the object of the desires of the poet WH Auden and the composer Lennox Berkeley. In 1935, the General Post Office Film [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 7th, 2013