The Britten Era

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:
The Britten Era

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The world of art music witnessed, in the nineteenth century, a tendency to focus upon a single figure representation of national musical pride, a perception that was complemented by the relationship between the leading composer of the day and the British public. It surely helped in Britten's case that he decided to become a composer of opera, a genre in which for one reason or another British composers had not managed to make an impact on the standard repertory, but which also encouraged thought about self-presentation. Britten never wanted to hide behind a cloud of abstract modernism or avant-garde ideas, and functionally endorsed the practice of “pure art.” Besides, opera seemed to be just the appropriate platform to enable the audience to identify with an allegorical figure and, instead of dissecting homosexuality as the problem, dealing with the society's vicious treatment of difference.

Keywords: art music; British public; allegorical figure; abstract modernism; pure art; avant garde

Chapter.  7293 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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