Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears | dayline.info
From the Foreword by FIONA SHAW This volume comprises the complete surviving correspondence between Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. The letters. The social landscape has changed so much that it's hard to remember how gay relationships worked when commitment could not be affirmed. The relationship between the tenor Peter Pears and the composer Benjamin Britten is part of our cultural and national furniture. A partnership.
He chafed at subsisting on a student's limited funds, and wanted a good, steady income. In Burra was killed in an air crash.
Pears and Britten volunteered to clear his possessions from the cottage, and their daily contact during this period cemented their friendship.
With the stimulus of Britten's music written for him he became much more focused. After their deaths John Amis wrote that Britten would have become a great composer without Pears, but that Pears would probably not have become a great singer without Britten. Their relationship ceased to be platonic, and from then until Britten's death they were partners in both their professional and personal lives.
He suggested to Britten that the section about the fisherman Peter Grimes would make a good subject for an opera.
Love letters between Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears go on display
Britten agreed, and, a Suffolk man himself, was struck with a deep nostalgia by the poem. He later said, "I suddenly realised where I belonged and what I lacked".
He and Pears began to plan their return to England. The composer had envisaged the central figure, based on Crabbe's brutal fisherman, as a villainous baritone, but he began to rethink the character as "neither a hero nor a villain" and not a baritone but a tenor, written to fit Pears's voice.
In January Britten and Pears began a long association with the Decca Record Companyrecording four of Britten's folk song arrangements. It was a chamber piece for eight singers and an orchestra of twelve players. After the festival, the work was taken on tour to provincial cities under the banner of the "Glyndebourne English Opera Company", an uneasy alliance of Britten and his associates with John Christiethe autocratic proprietor of Glyndebourne.
The group's express purpose was to produce and commission new English operas and other works, presenting them throughout the country. Pears played the title role — one of his fairly rare excursions into comedy.
Reviews of the opera were mixed, but Pears's performance as Albert, the mother's boy who kicks over the traces, received consistently good notices. Britten had bought a house there, and the town was his principal residence for the rest of his life. They included operas in which leading roles were created by Pears, and written with his voice in mind. Unlike the other three dedicatees of Britten's War RequiemDunkerley "survived the war but committed suicide in Junetwo months before his wedding" and three years before the premiere of the requiem at Coventry Cathedral 's reconsecration.
They were on holiday in Cornwall together and Bridcut recounts that Harry claimed that Britten made "what he understood as a sexual approach from Britten in his bedroom". Harry left the next morning and told his mother what had happened, but she did not believe him. They became close friends a few years later when Humphrey was at Eton.
Humphrey's father Sir John Maudwho was then Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education and would therefore have been wary of any potential scandal, eventually intervened to ask Britten to stop inviting Humphrey to spend school holidays with him at Aldeburgh. Humphrey himself told Bridcut: I think it was a precautionary measure; just in case others might think ill of it, it would be as well that it should be seen to stop.
Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy was another friend of Britten. Fourteen-year-old Jonny "could not help flirting slightly" and was "at once aware I attracted him". David Spenser was thirteen years old when he had the role of Harry in Britten's opera Albert Herring. When he first went to stay with Britten at Crag House, they shared a double bed, Britten explaining that with the recent move from the Old Mill at Snape it was the only bed in the house.
He was very fond of a local boy Robin Long, known as "Nipper", and he used to take the boy sailing. Hemmings was twelve when he came into Britten's life as the creator of the role of Miles in Britten's The Turn of the Screw.
The conductor Charles Mackerras observed, "David Hemmings was an extremely good looking young chap and he also very much played up to Ben's obvious adoration of him, and drank it in," and adds, "Obviously it was a sexual attraction but I'm sure that it was never actually fulfilled. The answer to that question, as I have often said, is: I have slept in his bed, yes, only because I was scared at night Duncan was aged eleven when he first met Britten.
Their relationship was unusual in that Britten persuaded Roger's father to share him and Roger spent many weeks staying with Britten.
Love letters between Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears go on display | Music | The Guardian
Both Roger and Humphrey Stone, another young friend, recall enjoying regular naked midnight swims with Britten. Bridcut makes it clear that Britten was inspired by his love of young boys to write extensively for children, and particularly for boy trebles. Among his finest works are The Turn of the Screwwith the dark relationship between Quint and Miles, and Death in Venicebased on Thomas Mann 's novella about the tragic love of a novelist for the beautiful boy Tadzio. Jonathan Keates' review in The Daily Telegraph sums up the dilemma of writing about Britten's children: