Benjamin Britten

The Making of Peter Grimes

Facsimile of Benjamin Britten's Compositional Draft.

Notes and Commentaries: Paul Banks, Philip Brett, Benjamin Britten, Eric Crozier, Donald Mitchell, Peter Pears, Philip Reed, Rosamund Strode. Edited by Paul Banks.

Issued on the occasion of  50th anniversary of the 1st production on June 7, 1945 by the Sadler's Wells Opera Company .

Cambridge, 1996. 2 vols, 4°, 241 facs, 251 pp. 
ISBN 0-85991-256-6  Special OMI price: $250 (originally $450)

Britten, Peter Grimes, 1 

Britten, Peter Grimes, 2
During the summer of 1941, while working in California, Britten came across a copy of
The Listener containing an article about George Crabbe by E.M. Forster. Reading about this "entirely English" poet evoked a longing for the realities of the grim and exciting seacoast around Aldeburgh. Crabbe's The Borough—and particularly the story of Peter Grimes—became  the subject and background from which Britten and Peter Pears began to construct the scenario of an opera.

        They made a number of draft scenarios in America while they waited for passage to England; after their return, Montagu Slater was asked to write the libretto. The compositional draft begun in early 1944—the basis of this full-color facsimile edition—is the single most important document in the creation of the work, showing the composer wrestling with text and music, and gradually fashioning the opera into its final version. It was a work, at least in the prevailing operatic culture of its time in Britain, radically to overturn the expectations and conventions that the image of opera summoned up (Mitchell). Britten helped to establish that English opera was capable of cogency and that it could be entertaining while at the same time addressing profound psychological, social and moral issues (Banks).

The commentary volume consists of  essays by a team of Britten scolars, including the personal accounts of Britten and Pears. Beautiful bibliophile edition bound in linen.

(see listing of other 20th-century works)

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