Benjamin Britten in Context


Liverpool Hope University

11 – 12 June 2010

‘Benjamin Britten in Context’

As we approach the centenary of the composer’s birth, this conference will examine and contextualise the work of Benjamin Britten. It is hoped that selected papers will be published in a new collection by Boydell & Brewer. Sessions will be built around the following themes:

Britten and collaboration

Throughout Britten’s life he worked with a number of distinguished artists and thinkers, including W.H. Auden, John Grierson, Alberto Cavalcanti, Paul Rotha, William Coldstream Mifanwy Piper, Montagu Slater et al. These sessions will explore the nature and outcomes of those collaborations.

Britten and modernism

Although a product of the English Musical Renaissance, Britten’s interest in European musical developments and his desire to seek out a wider frame of stylistic reference will be reconsidered.

Britten and Englishness

The issue of artistic tensions in Britten’s compositional style are amplified by personal tensions in the composer’s life. Although essentially English in outlook and identity, Britten’s pacifism and homosexuality forced him into temporary exile during the war years. These sessions will explore the nature of Englishness in Britten’s music in the context of his sense of community and national identity.

Speakers and session convenors will include:

Paul Banks (Royal College of Music)

David Crilly (Liverpool Hope)

J.P.E. Harper-Scott (RHUL)

Philip Reed (English National Opera)

Abstracts of around 250 words for twenty-minute papers should be sent to Dr David Crilly at before the deadline of 1 February 2010. The schedule will be published on March 1, 2010.

The conference will also include a number of social and musical events, including a conference dinner and a performance of Britten's music by Joanna MacGregor et al.