Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976)

Benjamin Britten was born in Lowestoft, England, on November 22, 1913 - St. Cecilia's Day. His father was a dentist and a talented amateur musician and his mother was a singer. His family recognized his talents when he was quite young but they let him grow up with a normal life. As a young boy he enjoyed mathematics, and was the captain of the cricket team.

Britten began composing at the age of five and continued throughout his childhood. He would get up early and compose before breakfast and then go to school.

As a composer Britten was an important British musical leader in the last half of the 20th century. He also was an excellent pianst, accompanist and conductor and loved experimenting with his music. For example, for the music to the film Coal Face, he wanted to create the sound of a train approaching through a tunnel. This was done by recording a cymbal crash, and reversing it. He also had a special talent for setting words to music and so wrote many works for singers.

Britten was always interested in writing for young people. One of his most well known works is The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. It was orginally for a film and consists of a series of variations on a theme by Henry Purcell, a 17th century English composer. It is often used today to teach children about the different instruments in an orchestra. This is the piece for this concert.