Peter Grimes, Benjamin Britten's first opera, established his stature as a composer, marked a turning point in the fortunes of English opera, and conquered operatic stages around the world. Though its setting and music reflect Britten's greatlove for his native East Anglia, the inspiration for the work was a chance encounter with the poetry of George Crabbe while Britten and the tenor Peter Pears (who eventually created the title role) were staying in California in 1941; they made a number of draft scenarios while they waited for a passage to England, and after their return Montagu Slater was asked to write the libretto. The full score was completed by February 1945.
The single document that reveals most about the work's creative history is the composition draft in which the composer wrestled with text and music, gradually fashioning the opera into its final version. The colour facsimile of this fascinating manuscript is published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of its first production. It is accompanied by a commentary volume containing a series of essays on the work's history and its contemporary significance by leading Britten scholars, together with a brief note on the work by PETER PEARS(apparently never before published) and an account of the first production by the late ERIC CROZIER, who directed it. The volume is illustrated with colour reproductions of some of the original costume designs by Kenneth Green, his portrait of BenjaminBritten, and contemporary black and white photographs.
Volume I: the composition draft. Volume II: Introduction (1945), Benjamin Britten; "Peter Grimes" (1945), Peter Pears; notes on the production of "Peter Grimes" (1946), Eric Crozier; chronology, Philip Reed; "Peter Grimes" - the growth of the libretto, Philip Brett; finding the right notes, Philip Reed; the later history of the composition draft, Rosamund Strode; "Peter Grimes" - 50 years on, Donald Mitchell; bibliographical notes and narratives, Paul Banks; personalia, Philip Reed.