Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Britten's got talent

In today's Independent you can find my two pence ha'penny on the Britten centenary. It's about why Britten has gone global, perhaps becoming the only British composer to have done so - and how his humanity gives his music a universal appeal, however unlikely a hero he may seem.

Who do they think Benjamin Britten is? Mozart? That's the first thought that comes to my mind, gazing at the phenomenal programme of events for the composer's centenary, which falls in November 2013. It's the most widely celebrated anniversary of any British composer, ever. Few worldwide could compete. Wagner and Verdi, whose bicentenaries are both due next year, won't stand a chance.
The UK's musical life will be dominated by Britten while this goes on – his image will even appear on a new 50p coin – and the Britten 100 online diary currently lists more than 1,150 events worldwide, and rising. Britten is the only British composer who has gone truly global, and the international roster of performances, books, films, exhibitions, festivals, broadcasts and commissions proves the point. Russia, where Britten is well-known, will enjoy high-profile commemorations, but anniversary events also pop up in corners of the globe where he is less recognised, among them Chile, Brazil, China, the Palestinian Territories and possibly the Amazonian rainforest...
Read the rest here.

Meanwhile, over in Independent Voices, Dominic Lawson has written an essay about getting older. Click on it and you find yourself facing an enormous picture of my favourite composer, not. Dominic quotes at length from my rather unfortunate little piece about said composer (I appreciate his kind words), and explains that it's the vastness of Bruckner's symphonies that makes them so valuable to him: they seem to hold off the passage of time.

It's a good point. None of us are as young as we used to be. I share much of his feeling about the inexorable tramp of year upon year; and, like him, I lost my mother and a sister (and my father too) while they were all still young. Read the whole thing here.

But his final sentence brings out the difference between us: "Time to listen to some Bruckner: either that, or to grow up, however late in the day." Personally, I have no intention of doing either!