At the end of the nineteenth century Britain was a country without an opera culture, and in the concert halls the Austro-Germanic symphonic repertory reigned supreme. In the following fifty years the art-music culture changed dramatically. Radio, the gramophone and the recording industry, government arts subsidies, Covent Garden, and a post-war resurgence in national and civic pride which contributed to the spread of music festivals, were the agents of change.
Born in 1913, Benjamin Britten was well placed to take advantage of these market forces, which he did consistently and skilfully from the 1930s onwards. His relationships with Boosey & Hawkes, Decca, Covent Garden, the Aldeburgh Festival, the English Opera Group, and the Arts
Council, had a huge influence on the music he wrote. This book explores the effect of these commercial and national institutions on the music of one of the foremost British composers of the twentieth century.
`... likely to exercise a seminal influence upon our critical understanding of Britten.'
`What is so admirable about Kildea's work is that while his account is obviously intrinsic to a deeper understanding of Britten's creative context, his treatment - characterised both by its trenchancy and deftness - firmly engages with the music.'
`... a valuable social history that is distinguished not only by the acute observation and analysis it brings to bear on the institutionalisation and commodification of music in late-twentieth-century Britain but an essential sympathy for the art it is treating.'
`Selling Britten is a fascinating and vigorously written read'
`... frequently fascinating book.'
Times Higher Education Supplement
List of Illustrations and Tables
List of Abbreviations
1: Carrying Music to the Masses
2: Britten and the BBC
3: The Impresario and the English Opera Group
4: The Arts Council's Pursuit of 'Grand Opera'
5: Aldeburgh's Court Composer
6: Recording a Reputation