Rethinking Britten offers a fresh portrait of one of the most widely performed composers of the 20th century. In twelve essays, a diverse group of contributors-both established authorities and leading younger voices-explore a significant portion of Benjamin Britten's extensive oeuvre across a range of genres, including opera, song cycle, and concert music. Well informed by earlier writings on the composer's professional career and private life,
Rethinking Britten also uncovers many fresh lines of inquiry, from the Lord Chamberlain's last-minute censorship of the Rape of Lucretia libretto to psychoanalytic understandings of Britten's staging of gender roles; from the composer's delight in schoolboy humor to his operatic revival of Purcellian dance rhythms; from
his creative responses to Cold-War-era internationalism to his dealings with BBC Television. Each essay blends awareness of overarching contexts with insights into particular expressive achievements. Balancing biographical, archival, and analytic commentary with cultural and historical criticism, Rethinking Britten broadens the interpretive context surrounding all phases of Britten's career and is essential reading for scholars and fans alike.
Philip Rupprecht is Associate Professor of Music at Duke University. He is the author of Britten's Musical Language (Cambridge) and co-editor of Tonality 1900-1950: Concept and Practice (Steiner, 2012).
Contents ; Contributors ; Introduction: Britten's Music and its Audiences ; Philip Rupprecht ; I Public and Private ; 1 On Ambiguity in Britten ; Paul Kildea ; 2 "O Hurry to the Feted Spot of your Deliberate Fall": Death in Britten, 1936-1940 ; Stephen Arthur Allen ; 3 Love Knots: Britten, Pears, and the Sonnet ; Lloyd Whitesell ; II Opera ; 4 Britten, Grimes, and the "Tuneful Air" ; Arved Ashby ; 5 Post-War Women in Britten ; J.P.E. Harper-Scott ; 6 Be Flat or Be Natural? Pitch Symbolism in Britten's Operas ; Mervyn Cooke ; III Post-War Encounters ; 7 Britten and the Avant-Garde in the 1950s ; Philip Rupprecht ; 8 Curlew River and Cultural Encounter ; Heather Wiebe ; 9 Britten's Rhetoric of Resistance: the Works for Rostropovich ; Arnold Whittall ; IV Late Modern ; 10 An Excess of Less? Critiquing Britten's Late Song-Cycles ; Christopher Mark ; 11 Animating Owen Wingrave: Ghosts and Global Television ; Danielle Ward-Griffin ; 12 The Dye-line Rehearsal Scores for Death in Venice ; Christopher Wintle ; Works Cited ; Index