Auden's Britten

Philip Brett

in Music and Sexuality in Britten

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780520246096
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939127 | DOI:
Auden's Britten

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This chapter inquires into the inspiration that propelled Britten to produce Peter Grimes, depicting the internalized oppression of an allegorical figure undoubtedly signifying “the homosexual,” at least two decades prior to the commencement of liberation movements. The solution to the question lay in Britten's belonging to the upper-middle-class British Artists and intellectuals, dubbed the “Auden generation,” and his personal proximity to Auden himself. The twain met on the sets of John Grierson's documentary film unit. They first collaborated on the film Coal Face, but their most famous collaboration and most successful film was Night Mail. Earlier commentators on Britten who invested in the public/private binary were shy of reckoning the connection between the personal and political awakening of Britten, and their mutual synergy. Britten's collaboration with Auden proved to be the catalyst triggering this synergy.

Keywords: Peter Grimes; allegorical figure; Auden generation; Night Mail; upper middle class; John Grierson

Chapter.  5491 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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