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Peter Pears

(1910—1986) singer


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(b Farnham, 1910; d Aldeburgh, 1986).

Eng. tenor and organist. Org., Hertford Coll., Oxford, 1928–9. Dir. of mus., Grange Sch., Crowborough, 1930–4. Had lessons from E. Gerhardt. In BBC Singers 1934–7, New Eng. Singers 1936–8. Went to USA with friend Benjamin Britten 1939, returning 1942. Stage début Strand Th., London, 1942 as Hoffmann in The Tales of Hoffmann. SW Opera 1943–6; EOG from 1946. Closely assoc. with mus. of Britten, giving f.ps. of many works (Serenade, Nocturne, Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, Holy Sonnets of John Donne) and creating several of Britten's operatic roles, i.e. title‐roles in Peter Grimes and Albert Herring and Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, Captain Vere in Billy Budd, Essex in Gloriana, Quint in The Turn of the Screw, Flute in A Midsummer Night's Dream (of which he was co‐librettist with Britten), Madwoman in Curlew River, Sir Philip Wingrave in Owen Wingrave, Aschenbach in Death in Venice. Created Pandarus in Walton's Troilus and Cressida, CG 1954. Sang ten. part in f.p. of Britten's War Requiem 1962. Notable singer of Schubert, Bach (Evangelist), and of Vašek in The Bartered Bride. The recitals Pears and Britten gave together from 1937 until Britten's stroke in 1973 were a feature of international musical life throughout the period. Salzburg Fest. 1952 (recital, accomp. Britten). NY Met début 1974 (Aschenbach). Writer on mus. and ed. (with Britten) of Purcell. CBE 1957. Knighted 1978.

Subjects: Opera.


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