A CHRONOLOGICAL VIEW OF WESTERN MUSIC HISTORY IN THE CONTEXT OF WORLD EVENTS

Benjamin Britten

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March 8, 1907: Three Idylls for string quintet by Frank Bridge (28) is performed for the first time, in Bechstein Hall, London. A theme in the second idyll will be used by Benjamin Britten in his Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge .
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November 22, 1913: Edward Benjamin Britten is born at 21 Kirkley Cliff Road in Lowestoft, Suffolk, United Kingdom, the youngest of four children born to Robert Victor Britten, a dental surgeon, and Edith Rhoda Hockey, an amateur pianist and singer, daughter of a Queen’s Messenger in the Home Office.
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October 30, 1924: Benjamin Britten (10) attends his first orchestral concert, at the Norwich Festival. He will recall that he is “knocked sideways” by The Sea by Frank Bridge (45).
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October 27, 1927: Enter Spring for orchestra by Frank Bridge (48) is performed for the first time, at the Norwich Triennial Festival, the composer conducting. At the festival, Bridge is introduced to Benjamin Britten (12).
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October 28, 1927: Frank Bridge (48) looks at some compositions by Benjamin Britten (12), whom he met yesterday, in Norwich. He agrees to take on Britten as a pupil starting next year.
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January 12, 1928: Benjamin Britten (14) begins composition lessons with Frank Bridge (48) at Bridge’s home in London. Britten tells his diary, “Had an absolutely wonderful lesson.” (Powell, 25)
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September 20, 1928: Benjamin Britten (14) begins studies at Gresham’s School, Holt.
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March 1, 1930: Bagatelle for violin, viola, and piano by Benjamin Britten (16) is performed for the first time, at Gresham’s School, Holt, Norfolk. The composer plays the viola part.
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June 19, 1930: Benjamin Britten (16) takes the open scholarship exams at the Royal College of Music. His judges in the oral exam include Ralph Vaughan Williams (57) and John Ireland (50). He wins the competition.
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September 22, 1930: Benjamin Britten (15) enters the Royal College of Music, London.
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October 16, 1930: Benjamin Britten (16) has his first full composition lesson with John Ireland (51) and the Royal College of Music. Britten finds Ireland “terribly critical.” (Evans, 55)
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January 5, 1931: Two works for chorus, by Benjamin Britten (17) to anonymous words, are performed for the first time, in St. John’s Church, Lowestoft: A Hymn to the Virgin and I Saw Three Ships. The latter will be revised as The Sycamore Tree.
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July 22, 1932: Phantasy for string quintet by Benjamin Britten (18) is performed for the first time, at the Royal College of Music in London, as winner of the Cobbett Chamber Music Prize.
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December 12, 1932: Three Two-Part Songs, to words of de la Mare by Benjamin Britten (19) are performed for the first time, at the Ballet Club Theatre (later the Mercury Theatre), London, the composer at the piano.
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January 31, 1933: Sinfonietta op.1 by Benjamin Britten (19) is performed for the first time, in the Ballet Club (Mercury Theatre), London.
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February 8, 1933: During a London performance of the BBC Orchestra wherein Arnold Schoenberg (58) conducts his Variations for Orchestra, Benjamin Britten (19) briefly meets the illustrious composer.
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March 16, 1933: Benjamin Britten’s (19) Sinfonietta op.1 is played at the Royal College of Music, London the only one of his works performed there during his college days.
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March 26, 1933: An Alla Marcia for string quartet by Benjamin Britten (19) is performed for the first time, privately, at the home of the composer’s teacher, Frank Bridge (54), in Friston, Sussex. Bridge plays the viola part. The work will be withdrawn and used in Les Illuminations.
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August 6, 1933: Phantasy for oboe quartet op.2 by Benjamin Britten (19) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC National.
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December 11, 1933: Two Two-Part Songs for chorus and piano by Benjamin Britten (20) to words of Wither and Graves are performed for the first time, at the Ballet Club (Mercury Theatre) in London. Also premiered are three movements from Britten’s Alla Quartetto Serioso “Go Play, Boy, Play” for string quartet.
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December 13, 1933: Benjamin Britten (20) passes the ARCM examination and leaves the Royal College of Music.
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February 23, 1934: A Boy Was Born op.3 for boys’ chorus, female chorus, and male chorus by Benjamin Britten (20) to anonymous 15th and 16th century words, is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC originating at Broadcasting House, London.
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March 6, 1934: Simple Symphony op.4 by Benjamin Britten (20) is performed for the first time, in Stuart Hall, Norwich conducted by the composer.
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March 28, 1934: Benjamin Britten (20) departs London on his first foreign trip, to the ISCM festival in Florence.
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November 30, 1934: Holiday Diary op.5, a suite for piano by Benjamin Britten (21), is performed for the first time, in Wigmore Hall, London.
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December 17, 1934: Movements 1, 3, and 4 of the Suite for violin and piano op.6 by Benjamin Britten (21) are performed for the first time, in Wigmore Hall, London. See 13 March 1936.
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April 27, 1935: Benjamin Britten (21) has lunch with filmmaker Alberto Cavalcanti and painter William Coldstream, both of whom work for the GPO film unit. He is asked to write the music for a short documentary Coldstream is currently engaged in called The King’s Stamp. Britten will go on to write music for several GPO films.
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May 17, 1935: Music for the film The King’s Stamp by Benjamin Britten (21) is recorded at the GPO film studio in Blackheath.
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July 5, 1935: Benjamin Britten (21) meets WH Auden for the first time as they begin to work together on a series of films for the General Post Office. Britten is very impressed and Auden rekindles Britten’s interest in poetry. They meet in Colwall, Worcestershire since Auden is a master at the Elms School there.
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July 20, 1935: Music for two films by Benjamin Britten (21) is recorded: CTO: the Story of the Central Telegraph Office and The Tocher.
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September 3, 1935: Music for the film Gas Abstract by Benjamin Britten (21) is recorded.
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September 16, 1935: Music for two films by Benjamin Britten (21) is recorded: Dinner Hour and Men Behind the Meters.
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October 1, 1935: Music for five films by Benjamin Britten (21) is recorded: Conquering Space: the Story of Modern Communications, How the Dial Works, The New Operator, The Savings Bank, and Sorting Office.
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October 27, 1935: The GPO short film Coal Face, with music by Benjamin Britten (21), is shown for the first time, in London. The narration is written by Montague Slater, who will collaborate on many works with Britten, including Peter Grimes.
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November 6, 1935: Benjamin Britten (21) and his sister Beth move in to a flat in West Cottage Road, West End Green in London.
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November 13, 1935: Te Deum for treble, chorus, and organ by Benjamin Britten (21) to words of the Book of Common Prayer is performed for the first time, in the Church of St. Michael’s, Cornhill, London.
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November 19, 1935: Incidental music to Shakespeare’s play Timon of Athens by Benjamin Britten (21) is performed for the first time, in Westminster Theatre, London.
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December 4, 1935: Incidental music to Slater’s play Easter 1916 by Benjamin Britten (22) is performed for the first time, in a private setting in Islington Town Hall.
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December 8, 1935: Incidental music to Slater’s play Easter 1916 by Benjamin Britten (22) is performed publicly for the first time, in the Phoenix Theatre, London.
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February 4, 1936: The short film Night Mail, with music by Benjamin Britten (22), is shown for the first time, at the Arts Theatre in Cambridge.
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February 25, 1936: Three Divertimenti for string quartet by Benjamin Britten (22), a reworking of his Alla Quartetto Serioso “Go Play, Boy, Play” is performed for the first time, in Wigmore Hall, London.
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March 8, 1936: Russian Funeral for brass and percussion by Benjamin Britten (22) is performed for the first time, in Westminster Theatre, London.
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March 13, 1936: Two works by Benjamin Britten (22) are performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC National: Suite for violin and piano (first complete), and The Birds, a song for voice and piano to words of Belloc. See 17 December 1934 and 21 April 1936.
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March 19, 1936: Two Lullabies for two pianos by Benjamin Britten (22) are performed for the first time, privately at Broadcasting House, London by Adolph Hallis and the composer. See 22 June 1988.
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March 21, 1936: Music for the film Peace of Britain by Benjamin Britten (22) is recorded.
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April 9, 1936: The three-minute film Peace of Britain, with music by Benjamin Britten (22), is released.
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April 19, 1936: Three works are performed for the first time, in Barcelona: Violin Concerto by Alban Berg (†0), composed to the memory of Manon Gropius, Fragmente aus dem Bühnenwerk Karl V for soprano and orchestra by Ernst Krenek (35), and Ariel, a ballet by Roberto Gerhard (39) to a story by Foix and the composer, in a concert setting. In the audience is Benjamin Britten (22).
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April 21, 1936: Suite for violin and piano op.6 by Benjamin Britten (22) is performed publicly for the first time, in Barcelona. See 13 March 1936.
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May 10, 1936: Incidental music to Slater’s play Stay down Miner by Benjamin Britten (22) is performed for the first time, in the Westminster Theatre, London.
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September 25, 1936: Two new works by British composers for voices and orchestra are performed for the first time, in St. Andrew’s Hall, Norwich: Five Tudor Portraits for alto, baritone, chorus, and orchestra by Ralph Vaughan Williams (63) to words of Skelton, and Our Hunting Fathers op.8, a cycle for voice and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (22) to words of Auden and Ravenscroft. Britten conducts his work.
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October 20, 1936: Music for four films by Benjamin Britten (22) is recorded: Men of the Alps, The Saving of Bill Blewitt, Calendar of the Year, and Line to the Tschierva Hut.
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November 1, 1936: Incidental music to The Agamemnon of Aeschylus (tr. MacNeice) by Benjamin Britten (22) is performed for the first time, in the Westminster Theatre, London.
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November 12, 1936: An Organ Symphony by four British composers is performed for the first time, in St. John’s Church, Red Lion Square, London. The Theme for Improvisation is by Benjamin Britten (22) and the Adagio is by William Walton (34).
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December 15, 1936: Two Ballads for two voices and piano by Benjamin Britten (23) to words of Slater and Auden is performed for the first time, in Wigmore Hall, London. Also premiered is Britten’s Temporal Variations for oboe and piano. Britten and Auden are present.
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January 7, 1937: Love From a Stranger, a film with music by Benjamin Britten (23), is shown for the first time. It is the only feature-length film for which Britten will compose music.
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January 8, 1937: Benjamin Britten (23) meets with WH Auden in Tottenham Court Road in London. They say their farewells. Auden writes his poem “It’s farewell to the drawing-room’s civilized cry” on the score of Britten’s Sinfonietta. “It is terribly sad & I feel ghastly about it,” Britten will write. Tomorrow, Auden leaves for the Spanish Civil War.
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February 26, 1937: Incidental music to a play by Auden and Isherwood, The Ascent of F6 by Benjamin Britten (23) is performed for the first time, in the Mercury Theatre, London.
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February 28, 1937: Incidental music to Slater’s play Pageant of Empire by Benjamin Britten (23) is performed for the first time, in Collins’ Music Hall, London.
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March 6, 1937: While having lunch with the conductor Trevor Harvey, Benjamin Britten (23) meets a tenor named Peter Pears.
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March 13, 1937: Benjamin Britten (23) is introduced by a friend to squash.
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April 12, 1937: Reveille, a concert study for violin and piano by Benjamin Britten (23), is performed for the first time, in Wigmore Hall, London.
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April 23, 1937: Music for Bridson’s play King Arthur by Benjamin Britten (23) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC. See 21 October 1995.
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June 13, 1937: Up the Garden Path, with poetry chosen by WH Auden and music chosen by Benjamin Britten (23), is broadcast for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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August 25, 1937: Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge (58) op.10 for strings by Benjamin Britten (23) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of Radio Hilversum in the Netherlands. See 27 August 1937.
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August 27, 1937: Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge (58) for strings by Benjamin Britten (23) is performed live for the first time, in Salzburg. It causes a positive sensation. See 25 August 1937.
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September 29, 1937: The Company of Heaven, for speakers, solo voices, chorus, timpani, organ, and strings by Benjamin Britten (23) to words of Roberts, is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC National.
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October 26, 1937: The tenth and eleventh of Friday Afternoons op.7, twelve children’s songs for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (23) to various authors, are performed for the first time, over the airwaves of BBC Regional. See 18 May 1949.
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November 19, 1937: Benjamin Britten’s (23) cycle for voice and piano On This Island op.11 to words of Auden is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC originating in London, the composer at the keyboard.
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November 25, 1937: Music to Auden’s play Hadrian’s Wall by Benjamin Britten (24) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC originating in Newcastle, conducted by the composer.
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December 3, 1937: Not Even Summer Yet for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (24) to words of Burra is performed for the first time, in Berkshire.
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December 5, 1937: Incidental music to MacNeice’s play Out of the Picture by Benjamin Britten (24) is performed for the first time, in the Westminster Theatre, London.
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December 30, 1937: The earthly remains of Maurice Ravel are interred in Cimitière de Levallois-Perret, Haute-de-Seine, beside those of his parents.  Among those attending are Igor Stravinsky (55), Arthur Honegger (45), Darius Milhaud (45), Francis Poulenc (38), and Benjamin Britten (24).
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January 8, 1938: Mont Juic for orchestra by Benjamin Britten (24) and Lennox Berkeley is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC National.
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January 27, 1938: The first program in the radio feature Lines on the Map entitled “Communication by Land” with music by Benjamin Britten (24), is broadcast for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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February 25, 1938: The second program in the radio feature Lines on the Map entitled “Communication by Sea” with music by Benjamin Britten (24) is broadcast for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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March 13, 1938: The Austrian cabinet agrees to the Anschluss between Austria and Germany, effectively ending Austrian independence. The fact is proclaimed by the new Chancellor, Arthur Seyss-Inquart. President Wilhelm Miklas, however refuses to sign the document and resigns.  Benjamin Britten (24) confides to his diary, “Think of Wien, under Nazi control-no more Mahler (†26), no lightness, no culture, nothing but their filthy, lewd, heartiness, their despicable conceit, & unutterable stupidiy.” (Kildea, 147-148)
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March 25, 1938: The third program in the radio feature Lines on the Map entitled “Communication by Wireless” with music by Benjamin Britten (24) is broadcast for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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April 9, 1938: Benjamin Britten (24) and Peter Pears move into the Old Mill in Snape, near Aldeburgh.
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April 21, 1938: Irish Reel for orchestra by Benjamin Britten (24) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC National.
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April 22, 1938: The fourth program in the radio feature Lines on the Map entitled “Communication by Air” with music by Benjamin Britten (24) is broadcast for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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May 13, 1938: Music to Miller’s play The Chartists’ March by Benjamin Britten (24) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC conducted by the composer.
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June 5, 1938: The World of the Spirit for speakers, solo voices, chorus, and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (24) to words from various sources is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC National.
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June 22, 1938: Incidental music to Slater’s play Spain by Benjamin Britten (24) is performed for the first time, in the Mercury Theatre, London.
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August 18, 1938: Piano Concerto op.13 by Benjamin Britten (24) is performed for the first time, in Queen’s Hall, London the composer at the keyboard. The audience is pleased (he is mobbed as he leaves the theatre), but the critics are not. See 2 July 1946.
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November 14, 1938: Incidental music to a play by Auden and Isherwood, On the Frontier, by Benjamin Britten (24), is performed for the first time, in Cambridge.
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November 21, 1938: Incidental music to Catto’s play They Walk Alone by Benjamin Britten is performed for the first time, in the Q Theatre, London on the eve of the composer’s 25th birthday.
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November 26, 1938: A ballet entitled Soirée musicale, collected from the music of Gioachino Rossini (†70) by Benjamin Britten (25), is performed for the first time, in the London Palladium.
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February 22, 1939: Incidental music to Priestley’s play Johnson over Jordan by Benjamin Britten (25) is performed for the first time, in the New Theatre, London.
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April 5, 1939: Ballad of Heroes op.14 for solo voice, chorus, and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (25) to words of Auden and Swingler, is performed for the first time, at a concert of the Festival of Music for the People in Queen’s Hall, London. The work was composed in honor of the men of the British Battalion of the International Brigade who fell combating fascism in Spain.
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April 21, 1939: The seventh movement of Les Illuminations op.18 for voice and strings by Benjamin Britten (25) to words of Rimbaud is performed for the first time, at Queen’s College, Birmingham. See 30 January 1940.
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April 29, 1939: Benjamin Britten (25) and Peter Pears sail aboard the SS Ausonia for Canada. They will spend three years in North America. They are seen off by Britten’s teacher Frank Bridge (60) and his wife. It is the last time Britten and Bridge will see each other.
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May 9, 1939: Benjamin Britten (25) and Peter Pears arrive in Quebec from Britain for an extended stay in North America. Within a month, they are lovers.
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June 7, 1939: Benjamin Britten (25) and Peter Pears arrive in Toronto to make arrangements for a joint recital and a broadcast. Here, their relationship is cemented permanently.
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June 9, 1939: Benjamin Britten (25) and Peter Pears arrive in Grand Rapids, Michigan for a ten-day stay. Here, their relationship is cemented permanently.
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June 11, 1939: The first episode of Helweg’s (after White) play The Sword in the Stone entitled “The Quest”, with music by Benjamin Britten (25) is broadcast for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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June 18, 1939: The second episode of Helweg’s (after White) play The Sword in the Stone entitled “Merlyn’s New Job” with music by Benjamin Britten (25) is broadcast for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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June 25, 1939: The third episode of Helweg’s (after White) play The Sword in the Stone entitled “Wart and the Hawks” with music by Benjamin Britten (25) is broadcast for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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June 27, 1939: Benjamin Britten (25) and Peter Pears move to New York City.
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July 2, 1939: The fourth episode of Helweg’s (after White) play The Sword in the Stone entitled “Adventure with a Witch” with music by Benjamin Britten (25) is broadcast for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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July 9, 1939: The fifth episode of Helweg’s (after White) play The Sword in the Stone entitled “The Owl’s Dream” with music by Benjamin Britten (25) is broadcast for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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July 16, 1939: The sixth and last episode of Helweg’s (after White) play The Sword in the Stone entitled “The Sword” with music by Benjamin Britten (25) is broadcast for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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August 17, 1939: The fifth movement of Les Illuminations op.18 for voice and strings by Benjamin Britten (25) to words of Rimbaud is performed for the first time, in Queen’s Hall, London. See 30 January 1940.
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August 27, 1939: Young Apollo op.16 for piano, string quartet, and string orchestra by Benjamin Britten (25) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the CBC originating in Toronto the composer at the keyboard.
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September 6, 1939: Aaron Copland (38) writes from Woodstock, New York to Benjamin Britten (25) urging him to avoid conscription. “Anyone can shoot a gun--but how many can write music like you?”
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January 8, 1940: Violin Concerto by Roger Sessions (43) is performed for the first time, in the Blackstone Theatre, Chicago, funded by the Federal Music Project. Benjamin Britten (26) attends, but is not impressed.
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January 30, 1940: Les illuminations op.18, a cycle for voice and strings by Benjamin Britten (26) to words of Rimbaud, is performed completely for the first time, in Aeolian Hall, London. See 21 April 1939 and 17 August 1939.
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March 28, 1940: Benjamin Britten’s (26) Violin Concerto op.15 is performed for the first time, in Carnegie Hall, New York. It is very successful.
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June 2, 1940: Music for Auden’s play The Dark Valley by Benjamin Britten (26) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the CBS radio network originating in New York.
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June 6, 1940: Canadian Carnival op.19 for orchestra by Benjamin Britten (26) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC Home Service.
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September 26, 1940: Ralph Hawkes writes to Benjamin Britten (26) in America about the hostility towards young Britons not in the country in its hour of need. “There is no doubt at all that we are going to have difficulty in getting performances of your works and caustic comment has been passed on your being away.” (Kildea, 162-163)
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November 24, 1940: Music for the radio play The Dynasts after Hardy by Benjamin Britten (27) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the CBS radio network originating in New York.
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January 5, 1941: Introduction and Rondo alla burlesca op.23/1 for two pianos by Benjamin Britten (27) is performed for the first time, in Town Hall, New York.
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March 29, 1941: Sinfonia da Requiem op.20 by Benjamin Britten (27) is performed for the first time, in Carnegie Hall, New York. The work was composed on commission from the government of Japan to celebrate the 2,600th anniversary of the Japanese dynasty but was rejected as insulting.
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April 6, 1941: Music for Auden and Stern’s (after Lawrence) play The Rocking-Horse Winner by Benjamin Britten (27) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the CBS radio network originating in New York.
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May 5, 1941: Paul Bunyan op.17, an operetta by Benjamin Britten (27) to words of Auden, is performed for the first time, in Brander Matthews Hall, Columbia University, New York. The audience is appreciative but critics are generally disappointed.
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September 21, 1941: String Quartet no.1 op.25 by Benjamin Britten (27) is performed for the first time, in Belle Wilber Thorne Hall, Occidental College, Los Angeles.
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October 30, 1941: Benjamin Britten (27) is awarded the Coolidge Medal by the Library of Congress, Washington.
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November 28, 1941: Scottish Ballad op.26 for two pianos and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (28) is performed for the first time, in the Music Hall, Cincinnati.
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December 9, 1941: Mazurka elegiaca op.23/2 for two pianos by Benjamin Britten (28) is performed for the first time, in Town Hall, New York.
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December 14, 1941: Calypso, a cabaret song by Benjamin Britten (28) to words of Auden, is performed for the first time, in Southold High School, Long Island, New York.
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January 16, 1942: Diversions on a Theme op.21 for piano-left hand and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (28) is performed for the first time, at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Paul Wittgenstein is the soloist. Britten is not happy with the performance.
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February 18, 1942: Christopher Isherwood writes to Benjamin Britten (28) politely declining Britten’s request that they work together on an operatic treatment of Peter Grimes.
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March 14, 1942: Serge Koussevitzky announces that the Koussevitzky Foundation has commissioned Benjamin Britten (28) to write an opera.
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March 16, 1942: Benjamin Britten (28) and Peter Pears board the Swedish cargo ship Axel Johnson in New York bound for Great Britain. US Customs agents confiscate sketches for a clarinet concerto and a choral Hymn to Saint Cecilia in case they are messages in code. Britten will rewrite Hymn to Saint Cecilia from memory and finish the work during the Atlantic crossing.
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March 31, 1942: The Swedish freighter Axel Johnson, with Benjamin Britten (28) and Peter Pears aboard, joins a convoy in Boston and heads for Nova Scotia.
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April 4, 1942: Almost three weeks after departing New York, the Swedish freighter Axel Johnson, with Benjamin Britten (28) and Peter Pears aboard, departs Halifax, Nova Scotia bound for England.
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April 17, 1942: Benjamin Britten (28) and Peter Pears arrive in Liverpool aboard the Swedish merchant ship Axel Johnson after almost three years in North America.
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May 4, 1942: Benjamin Britten (28) makes his “Statement to the Local Tribunal for the Registration of Conscientious Objectors.” He begins, “Since I believe that there is in every man the spirit of God, I cannot destroy, and feel it my duty to avoid helping to destroy as far as I am able, human life, however strongly I may disapprove of the individual’s actions or thoughts.”
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May 28, 1942: Benjamin Britten (28) appears before a British court to explain why he should be exempted from military service as a conscientious objector. “I cannot take part in acts of destruction.” He claims he can best serve his country through his creative activities. The court exempts him but requires him to do non-combatant duties. Britten appeals. See 18 August 1942.
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June 24, 1942: May for unison chorus and piano by Benjamin Britten (28) to anonymous words, is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC Home Service.
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July 20, 1942: Music for Corwin’s play Appointment by Benjamin Britten (28) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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July 27, 1942: The first of the radio dramas An American in England, entitled “London by Clipper”, with music by Benjamin Britten (28), is broadcast for the first time, over the CBS radio network originating in New York.
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August 17, 1942: The third of the radio dramas An American in England, entitled “Ration island”, with music by Benjamin Britten (28), is broadcast for the first time, over the CBS radio network originating in New York.
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August 19, 1942: A British judge rules that Benjamin Britten (28) not be required to do non-combatant war work, overturning the ruling of 28 May. He is registered as a conscientious objector unconditionally.
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August 23, 1942: Music for Sayers’ play The Princes of this World by Benjamin Britten (28) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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August 24, 1942: Music for MacDougall’s play Lumberjacks of America by Benjamin Britten (28) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC, conducted by the composer.
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August 24, 1942: The fourth of the radio dramas An American in England, entitled “Women of Britain”, with music by Benjamin Britten (28), is broadcast for the first time, over the CBS radio network, originating in New York.
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August 31, 1942: The fifth of the radio dramas An American in England, entitled “The Yanks are Here”, with music by Benjamin Britten (28), is broadcast for the first time, over the CBS radio network, originating in New York.
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September 7, 1942: The sixth and last of the radio dramas An American in England, entitled “The Anglo-American Angle”, with music by Benjamin Britten (28), is broadcast for the first time, over the CBS radio network originating in New York.
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September 20, 1942: Music for Sayers’ play King of Sorrows by Benjamin Britten (28) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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September 23, 1942: Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo op.22, a cycle for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (28), is performed for the first time, in Wigmore Hall, London by Peter Pears and the composer. It is a triumph, especially for Pears.
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November 22, 1942: Hymn to Saint Cecilia op.27 for chorus by Benjamin Britten to words of Auden is performed for the first time, in a recording over the airwaves of the BBC Home Service, on the saint’s day and the composer’s 29th birthday.
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December 5, 1942: A Ceremony of Carols op.28 for boys’ chorus and harp by Benjamin Britten (29) to anonymous medieval texts is performed for the first time, in Norwich Castle. This premiere is performed by women.
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February 21, 1943: Music for MacNeice’s play Pericles by Benjamin Britten (29) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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February 28, 1943: Fish in the unruffled lakes for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (29) to words of Auden is performed for the first time, in London by Peter Pears and the composer.
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June 5, 1943: Michael Tippett’s (38) cantata Boyhood’s End for tenor and piano to words of Hudson is performed for the first time, at Morley College, London by Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten (29).
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June 23, 1943: Prelude and Fugue for strings op.29 by Benjamin Britten (29) is performed for the first time, in Wigmore Hall, London.
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July 11, 1943: Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten (29) give a recital at Wormwood Scrubs prison, London, with inmate Michael Tippett (38) turning pages.
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September 21, 1943: Rejoice in the Lamb op.30 for solo voices, chorus, and organ by Benjamin Britten (29) to words of Smart, is performed for the first time, in St. Matthew’s Church, Northampton conducted by the composer. The work was composed for the 50th anniversary of the consecration of the church. Also premiered is Fanfare no.1 for brass by Michael Tippett (38).
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October 15, 1943: Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings op.31 by Benjamin Britten (29) to words of various poets, is performed for the first time, in Wigmore Hall, London. The critics are very pleased.
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November 25, 1943: Incidental music to Sackville-West’s (after Homer) radio play The Rescue by Benjamin Britten (30) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC Home Service.
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February 20, 1944: A Prisoner’s Music Festival begins at the prisoner of war camp in Eichstätt, Germany. It is organized by British Lieutenant Richard Wood and concludes with the world premiere of a specially commissioned choral work by Wood’s good friend, Benjamin Britten (30): The Ballad of Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard for male chorus and piano.
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December 24, 1944: Poet’s Christmas is broadcast as a feature over the airwaves of the BBC Home Service. It includes first performances of Michael Tippett’s (39) motet for soprano and chorus The Weeping Babe to words of Edith Sitwell and A Shepherd’s Carol by Benjamin Britten (31) to words of Auden and also Britten’s Chorale after an Old French Carol to words of Auden.
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January 6, 1945: Francis Poulenc and Benjamin Britten (31) are soloists in Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in Royal Albert Hall, London on the eve of his 46th birthday. It is the first time the two have met and it is the beginning of a fruitful relationship.
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April 24, 1945: Benjamin Britten’s (31) Festival Te Deum op.32 for chorus and organ is performed for the first time, in St. Mark’s, Swindon.
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May 31, 1945: Excerpts from Peter Grimes, an opera by Benjamin Britten (31) to words of Slater, after Crabbe are performed for the first time, in a concert setting in Wigmore Hall, London the composer accompanying on piano. See 7 June 1945.
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June 7, 1945: Peter Grimes, an opera by Benjamin Britten (31) to words of Slater after Crabbe, is performed for the first time, at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London. Present are Ralph Vaughan Williams (72), William Walton (43), and Michael Tippett (40). The audience and the press are enraptured and the artists receive multiple curtain calls. It quickly becomes one of the most performed operas written in the 20th century.
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June 13, 1945: Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes for orchestra by Benjamin Britten (31) is performed for the first time, in Cheltenham Town Hall, conducted by the composer.
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June 27, 1945: On a tour of Germany, Yehudi Menuhin and Benjamin Britten (31) perform at the death camp at Belsen. Britten writes to Peter Pears, “We stayed the night in Belsen, & saw over the hospital -- & I needn’t describe that to you.” In fact, Britten will never again speak of the experience until late in his life when he will tell Pears “that the experience had coloured everything he had written subsequently.” (Powell, 244)
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July 24, 1945: Themes for Improvisation for organ by Benjamin Britten (31) are performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC Home Service.
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August 29, 1945: Passacaglia from Peter Grimes for orchestra by Benjamin Britten (31) is performed for the first time, in London.
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October 11, 1945: Incidental music to Duncan’s play This Way to the Tomb by Benjamin Britten (31) is performed for the first time, in the Mercury Theatre, London.
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November 21, 1945: As part of the 250th anniversary of the death of Henry Purcell, Benjamin Britten’s (31) String Quartet no.2 is performed for the first time, in Wigmore Hall, London.
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November 22, 1945: As part of the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the death of Henry Purcell, Benjamin Britten’s The Holy Sonnets of John Donne op.35, a cycle for voice and piano, is performed for the first time, in Wigmore Hall, London by Peter Pears and the composer on his 32nd birthday.
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January 21, 1946: Incidental music to MacNeice’s (after Browning) radio play The Dark Tower by Benjamin Britten (32) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC Home Service.
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July 2, 1946: Benjamin Britten’s (32) Piano Concerto no.1 op.13 is performed for the first time with a new third movement, at Cheltenham. See 18 August 1938.
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July 12, 1946: The Rape of Lucretia, an opera by Benjamin Britten (32) to words of Duncan, is performed for the first time, at Glyndebourne. The critics are not pleased.
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September 4, 1946: Incidental music to Cocteau’s (tr. Duncan) play The Eagle Has Two Heads by Benjamin Britten (32) is performed for the first time, in the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith.
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September 20, 1946: Incidental music to Webster’s (adapted by Auden) play The Duchess of Malfi by Benjamin Britten (32) is performed for the first time, in Providence, Rhode Island.
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September 21, 1946: Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of Vittoria for organ by Benjamin Britten (32) is performed for the first time, in St. Matthew’s Church, Northampton.
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September 29, 1946: In the inaugural broadcast of the culturally-oriented BBC Third Programme, Benjamin Britten’s (32) Occasional Overture op.38 is performed for the first time. The composer will soon withdraw it.
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October 15, 1946: Benjamin Britten’s (32) Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra op.34 is performed for the first time, in Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool.
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November 29, 1946: The film Instruments of the Orchestra with music by Benjamin Britten (33) is shown for the first time, in the Empire Theatre, London.
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June 20, 1947: Albert Herring op.39, a comic opera by Benjamin Britten (33) to words of Crozier after de Maupassant, is performed for the first time, at Glyndebourne. The audience is appreciative, the critics are mixed.
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November 1, 1947: Canticle I “My beloved is mine” op.40, for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (33) to words of Quarles, is performed for the first time, in Central Hall, Westminster by Peter Pears and the composer.
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December 25, 1947: Incidental music to the radio play Men of Goodwill by Benjamin Britten (34) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC Home Service.
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January 3, 1948: A Charm of Lullabies op.41, a cycle for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (34) to five different authors, is performed for the first time, at The Hague.
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April 19, 1948: The first All-Union congress of Soviet Composers meets in Moscow. They condemn Benjamin Britten (34), Gian-Carlo Menotti (36), and Olivier Messiaen (39) as being “impregnated with extreme subjectivism, mysticism, and disgusting facetiousness.”  Of those condemned on 10 February, only Dmitry Shostakovich (41) and Vano Muradeli attend the entire congress.  Sergey Prokofiev (56) and Aram Khachaturian (44) are there for the first day only.
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May 24, 1948: Benjamin Britten’s (34) ballad opera The Beggar’s Opera to words of Gay is performed for the first time, in Cambridge.
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June 5, 1948: Benjamin Britten’s (34) cantata St. Nicholas op.42 for vocal soloists, chorus, strings, percussion, and organ to words of Crozier is performed for the first time, at the opening of the first Aldeburgh Festival.
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April 17, 1949: Warren Storey Smith writes in the Boston Post about William Grant Still’s (53) opera Troubled Island. It is not only “better than the general run of American operas,” it is “a better show than that current sensation of the Lyric Theatre, Benjamin Britten’s (35) Peter Grimes.”
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June 14, 1949: Tell me the Truth about Love, a cabaret song by Benjamin Britten (35) to words of Auden, is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC.
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June 14, 1949: Benjamin Britten’s (35) chamber opera The Little Sweep to words of Crozier is performed for the first time, in Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh.
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June 29, 1949: Johnny, a cabaret song by Benjamin Britten (35) to words of Auden, is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC Third Programme.
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July 14, 1949: Spring Symphony for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (35) is performed for the first time, in the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.
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September 29, 1949: A Wedding Anthem op.46 for soprano, tenor, chorus, and organ by Benjamin Britten (35) to words of Duncan, is performed for the first time, at the wedding of Lord Harewood with Marion Stein in St. Mark’s, London conducted by the composer. King George and Queen Elizabeth, aunt and uncle of the groom, are in attendance.
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October 23, 1949: Benjamin Britten (35) and Peter Pears begin a recital tour of North America in New York.
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October 31, 1949: Incidental music to Duncan’s play Stratton by Benjamin Britten (35) is performed for the first time, at the Theatre Royal, Brighton.
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June 17, 1950: Old American Songs, Set I for voice and piano by Aaron Copland (49) is performed for the first time, at Aldeburgh by Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten (36). See 7 January 1955.
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June 20, 1950: Lachrymae op.48, reflections on a song of Dowland for viola and piano by Benjamin Britten (36), is performed for the first time, in Aldeburgh the composer at the keyboard.
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July 23, 1950: Five Flower Songs op.47 for chorus by Benjamin Britten (36) to various authors is performed for the first time, privately in Dartington. See 24 May 1951.
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November 24, 1950: In the midst of a coast-to-coast United States tour, Benjamin Britten (37) and Peter Pears meet Igor Stravinsky (68) in his Hollywood home.
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May 7, 1951: The Heart’s Assurance, a cycle for high voice and piano by Michael Tippett (46) to words of Keyes and Lewis, is performed for the first time, in Wigmore Hall, London by Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten (37).
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May 24, 1951: Five Flower Songs op.47 for chorus by Benjamin Britten (37) to various authors is performed publicly for the first time, over the airwaves of BBC Midland Home Service. See 23 July 1950.
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June 14, 1951: Six Metamorphoses after Ovid op.49 for oboe by Benjamin Britten (37) is performed for the first time, from a boat in the Meare, an artificial lake at Thorpeness.
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July 28, 1951: In a ceremony in the Sparrow’s Nest Theatre, Benjamin Britten (37) is granted the Freedom of the Borough of Lowestoft, his birthplace.
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December 1, 1951: Billy Budd op.50, an opera by Benjamin Britten (38) to words of Forster and Crozier after Melville, is performed for the first time, at Covent Garden, conducted by the composer as a last minute replacement for Josef Krips. Krips resigned amidst a host of difficulties facing the production. Britten considers it one of his best efforts, but the critics are less positive.
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January 21, 1952: Canticle II “Abraham and Isaac” op.51 for alto, tenor, and piano by Benjamin Britten (38) to an anonymous medieval play, is performed for the first time, in Albert Hall, Nottingham the composer at the piano.
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January 31, 1953: Six days of storms, high tides, and floods cause death and destruction in the North Sea. The Netherlands lists 1,395 dead, Great Britain 546, and Belgium 23. The British ferry Princess Victoria sinks today between Scotland and Northern Ireland taking 132 people with her. Only 44 survive. The home of Benjamin Britten (39) and Peter Pears at 4 Crabbe Street, Aldeburgh is flooded on the first floor.
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June 1, 1953: Benjamin Britten (39) is created a Companion of Honour on the coronation list.
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June 8, 1953: Gloriana op.53, an opera by Benjamin Britten (39) to words of Plomer after Strachey, is performed for the first time, at Covent Garden before Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family, knights, ministers, and foreign dignitaries. The Earl of Harewood calls it “one of the great disasters of operatic history.” Before the performance, William Walton’s (51) arrangement of God Save the Queen is performed for the first time. Walton is present, along with Ralph Vaughan Williams (80) and Arnold Bax (69).
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June 20, 1953: Variations on an Elizabethan Theme for strings is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC Third Programme, conducted by Benjamin Britten (39). Each of the six variations is composed by a different prominent British composer. Contributors include Britten, Michael Tippett (48) and William Walton (51).
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October 8, 1953: Winter Words op.52, a cycle for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (39) to words of Hardy, is performed for the first time, at Harewood House, Leeds by Peter Pears and the composer. Britten is suffering from bursitis in his right arm.
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March 4, 1954: Incidental music to Rossin’s play Am stram gram by Benjamin Britten (40) is performed for the first time, in Toynbee Hall Theatre, London.
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September 14, 1954: The Turn of the Screw op.54, a chamber opera by Benjamin Britten (40) to words of Piper after James, is performed for the first time, in Teatro La Fenice, Venice conducted by the composer.
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September 23, 1954: Benjamin Britten’s (40) symphonic suite Gloriana for tenor or oboe and orchestra to words of Devereux, is performed for the first time, in Birmingham.
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January 28, 1955: Canticle III “Still Falls the Rain--The Raids, 1940--Night and Dawn” for solo voice, horn, and piano by Benjamin Britten (41) to words of Edith Sitwell, is performed for the first time, in Wigmore Hall, London by Peter Pears, Denis Brain, and the composer.
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June 24, 1955: New Prince, New Pomp for soprano and chorus, the fourth movement of the Christmas suite Christ’s Nativity by Benjamin Britten (41), is performed for the first time, in Aldeburgh Parish Church. See 14 June 1991.
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June 26, 1955: Two works for recorders by Benjamin Britten (41) are performed for the first time, in Thorpeness: Scherzo for recorder quartet and Alpine Suite for recorder trio.
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September 28, 1955: Two songs for Auden and Plomer’s play The Punch Revue by Benjamin Britten (41) are performed for the first time, in London.
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October 31, 1955: Benjamin Britten (41) and Peter Pears depart England on a five-month world tour.
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November 20, 1955: Hymn to St. Peter op.56a for chorus and organ by Benjamin Britten (41) is performed for the first time, in St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich.
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December 25, 1955: Benjamin Britten (42) and Peter Pears spend Christmas at the Taj Mahal.
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January 7, 1956: Benjamin Britten (42) and Peter Pears arrive in Jakarta. Indonesian music has had and will have an important impact on Britten’s music.
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January 12, 1956: After concerts in Bandung and Surabaya, Benjamin Britten (42) and his party arrive in Bali where they will stay until 25 January. They will experience Balinese music, dance, and ritual which will have an important impact on Britten’s music.
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February 8, 1956: Benjamin Britten (42) and Peter Pears arrive in Tokyo from Hong Kong. They will stay almost two weeks.
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February 11, 1956: Benjamin Britten (42) witnesses a Noh drama, Sumida River, in Tokyo. It’s story will be adapted by Britten and William Plomer for Curlew River.
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February 18, 1956: Benjamin Britten (42) conducts a performance of his Sinfonia da Requiem over the airwaves of NHK, originating in Tokyo. The work was written in response to a commission from the Japanese government in 1940 but was rejected as insulting.
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June 21, 1956: Three Songs from “The Heart of the Matter” for tenor, horn, and piano by Benjamin Britten (42) to words of Edith Sitwell is performed for the first time, in Aldeburgh the composer at the piano.
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September 29, 1956: Antiphon op.56b for chorus and organ by Benjamin Britten (42) to words of Herbert is performed for the first time, at St. Michael’s College in Tenbury Wells.
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January 1, 1957: The Prince of the Pagodas op.57, a ballet by Benjamin Britten (43) to a scenario by Cranko, is performed for the first time, at Covent Garden, conducted by the composer. It will enjoy a run of 22 performances.
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April 8, 1957: Benjamin Britten (43) is elected an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters in New York.
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June 19, 1957: The Prime Minister of Malaya writes to Boosey and Hawkes with the proposal that either Benjamin Britten (43) or William Walton (55) compose a national anthem for the new nation.
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July 29, 1957: A revised version of Benjamin Britten’s (43) attempt at a national anthem for Malaya is sent to Kuala Lampur.
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September 18, 1957: Benjamin Britten’s (43) score for a Malayan national anthem is returned to him by the government of Malaya. They do pay him the fee, however.
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September 26, 1957: Pas de six, an orchestral excerpt from Benjamin Britten’s (43) ballet The Prince of the Pagodas, is performed for the first time, in Birmingham. See 1 January 1957.
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June 17, 1958: Songs from the Chinese op.58, a cycle for voice and guitar by Benjamin Britten (44) to various Chinese poets (tr. Waley), is performed for the first time, at Great Glenham House, Aldeburgh.
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June 18, 1958: Benjamin Britten’s (44) children’s opera Noye’s Fludde op.59, to an anonymous text, is performed for the first time, in Orford Church.
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October 7, 1958: A commission is sent to Benjamin Britten (44) asking him to compose a work for the consecration of the newly rebuilt Coventry Cathedral.
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October 16, 1958: Nocturne op.60 for voice, seven obbligato instruments, and strings by Benjamin Britten (44), to words of various authors, is performed for the first time, in Leeds Town Hall. The work is dedicated to Alma Mahler.
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November 14, 1958: Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente op.61, a cycle for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (44), is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC Third Programme by Peter Pears and the composer.
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June 10, 1959: Fanfare for St. Edmundsbury for three trumpets by Benjamin Britten (45) is performed for the first time, in the Cathedral Precincts of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.
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July 22, 1959: Missa brevis op.63 for boys’ chorus and organ by Benjamin Britten (45) is performed for the first time, in Westminster Cathedral.
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November 3, 1959: Fanfare for SS Oriana for brass by Benjamin Britten (46) is performed for the first time, in Barrow-in-Furness at the launching of the vessel named in the title
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June 11, 1960: A Midsummer Night’s Dream op.64, an opera by Benjamin Britten (46) to words of Pears and the composer after Shakespeare, is performed for the first time, in Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh.
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July 1, 1960: New works are performed in the Basel Kongresshalle for the 500th anniversary of Basel University, including Cantata academica, carmen basiliense op.62 for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (46) and March for orchestra by Paul Hindemith (64).
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September 21, 1960: The Cello Concerto of Dmitri Shostakovich (53) is given its British premiere in Royal Festival Hall, London. Since Benjamin Britten’s (46) music is also on the program, Britten was invited by Shostakovich to join him in his box. Afterwards, Britten meets the soloist, Mstislav Rostropovich, who pleads with him to write something for cello.
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September 22, 1960: Benjamin Britten (46) meets with Mstislav Rostropovich and the conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky in Rostropovich’s hotel room at the Prince of Wales, Kensington. It is agreed that Britten will write a cello sonata provided Rostropovich will premiere it at the Aldeburgh Festival next summer.
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March 5, 1961: In London, where he is changing planes for a trip to South America, Mstislav Rostropovich runs through the new cello sonata written for him by Benjamin Britten (47), with the composer. The sharing of several large whiskeys enhances the positive atmosphere. “We played like pigs, but we were so happy,” Rostropovich will remember. (Powell, 361)
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July 7, 1961: Three new works by British composers are performed for the first time, in Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh: Sonata in C op.65 for cello and piano by Benjamin Britten (47) performed by Mstislav Rostropovich and the composer, Songs for Achilles for tenor and guitar by Michael Tippett (56) to his own words, and Sir Patrick Spens for tenor and guitar by Thea Musgrave (33) to traditional words.
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July 16, 1961: Jubilate Deo in C for chorus and organ by Benjamin Britten (47) is performed for the first time, in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.
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May 30, 1962: War Requiem op.66 for soprano, tenor, baritone, chorus, orchestra, and organ by Benjamin Britten (48) to words of the Latin requiem and Wilfred Owen, is performed for the first time, conducted by the composer, at the reconsecration of Coventry Cathedral, destroyed during World War II. Press and public are stunned. Peter Shaffer will end his review in Time & Tide with “It makes criticism impertinent.” The baritone in the performance, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (a veteran of the war), will remember “I did not know where to hide my face. Dead friends and past suffering arose in my mind.” (Kildea, 457)
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June 16, 1962: King Herod and the Cock, a carol for voices and piano by Benjamin Britten (48) to traditional words, is performed for the first time, in Aldeburgh Parish Church, the composer at the keyboard. Also premiered is Britten’s The Twelve Apostles for solo voice, unison voices, and piano, the composer at the keyboard.
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July 29, 1962: Psalm 150 op.67 for children’s choir and instruments by Benjamin Britten (48) is performed for the first time, in St. Mary’s Church, Thorpe Morieux, for the centennial of his old school, South Lodge (presently called Old Buckenham School). See 24 June 1963.
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October 22, 1962: In the council chamber of Moot Hall, Benjamin Britten (48) receives the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Aldeburgh.
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March 8, 1963: Benjamin Britten (49) gives the first of five performances over the next nine days in a festival of British music in Moscow and Leningrad.
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June 2, 1963: Hymn of St. Columba for chorus and organ by Benjamin Britten (49), commissioned to mark the 1400th anniversary of St. Columba’s mission to Iona, is performed for the first time, in Churchill, County Donegal, Ireland the birthplace of the saint.
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June 24, 1963: Psalm 150 op.67 for children’s choir and instruments by Benjamin Britten (49) is performed publicly for the first time, in Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh conducted by the composer. See 29 July 1962.
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September 1, 1963: Cantata misericordium op.69 for solo voices, chorus, string quartet, string orchestra, piano, harp, and timpani by Benjamin Britten (49) to words of Wilkinson is performed for the first time, in the Grand Théâtre, Geneva.  Also premiered is the first of the Three Postludes for orchestra by Witold Lutoslawski (50). See 8 October 1965.
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September 19, 1963: Night Piece for piano by Benjamin Britten (49) is performed for the first time, in Great Hall of Leeds University.
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March 12, 1964: Symphony for cello and orchestra op.68 by Benjamin Britten (50) is performed for the first time, in Moscow Conservatory Bolshoy Hall, under the baton of the composer.
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June 12, 1964: Benjamin Britten’s (50) stage work Curlew River op.71, to words of Plomer after Motomasa, is performed for the first time, at Orford Church conducted by the composer. This day also sees the premiere of Britten’s Nocturnal after Dowland op.70 for guitar, in Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh.
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July 31, 1964: Benjamin Britten (50) is presented with the Aspen Prize of $30,000 in Aspen Colorado.
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December 30, 1964: Advance Democracy for chorus by Benjamin Britten (51) to words of Swingler is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC, 26 years after it was composed.
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March 23, 1965: Benjamin Britten (51) is admitted to the Order of Merit.
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June 19, 1965: Gemini Variations op.73 for flute, violin, and piano four hands by Benjamin Britten (51) is performed for the first time, in Aldeburgh Parish Church.
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June 24, 1965: Songs and Proverbs of William Blake op.74, a cycle for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (51) is performed for the first time, in Aldeburgh Parish Church, by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and the composer. Also premiered is Rhapsody for two violins and viola by Frank Bridge (†24), 37 years after it was composed.
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June 27, 1965: Cello Suite no.1 by Benjamin Britten (51) is performed for the first time, in Aldeburgh Parish Church.
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August 29, 1965: Two of the six songs from The Poet’s Echo op.76 for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (51) to words of Pushkin, are performed for the first time, in Philharmonic Concert Hall, Yerevan. See 2 December 1965.
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October 9, 1965: Benjamin Britten (51) receives the Wihuri Sibelius Prize in Helsinki.
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October 24, 1965: Voices for Today op.75 for boys’ chorus, chorus, and organ by Benjamin Britten (51) to words of Virgil, Lao tzu, Jesus Christ, Albert Camus, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and others, commissioned to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the United Nations, is performed for the first time, simultaneously in Royal Festival Hall, London, UN General Assembly Hall, New York, and Maison de l’ORTF, Paris.
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December 2, 1965: The Poet’s Echo op.76, a cycle for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (52) to words of Pushkin, is performed completely for the first time, in Moscow Conservatory Malyi Hall. See 29 August 1965.
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June 9, 1966: The Burning Fiery Furnace op.77, a stage work by Benjamin Britten (52) to words of Plomer after the Bible, is performed for the first time, in Orford Church conducted by the composer.
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June 15, 1966: Sweet Was the Song the Virgin Sung for female chorus by Benjamin Britten (52) is performed for the first time, in Aldeburgh Parish Church.
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September 25, 1966: Cello Concerto no.2 op.126 by Dmitri Shostakovich is performed for the first time, in Moscow Conservatory Bolshoy Hall, on the composer’s 60th birthday. As part of the celebrations surrounding his 60th birthday, Shostakovich is awarded a second Order of Lenin and the Gold Medal of the Hammer and Sickle as well as being created a Hero of Socialist Labor. Today, two pianos arrive at the composer’s home, an old piano from Minister of Culture Yekaterina Furtseva and a new Steinway grand from Benjamin Britten (52).
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March 1, 1967: Hankin Booby for winds and percussion by Benjamin Britten (53), composed for the opening of Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, is performed for the first time, conducted by the composer in the presence of the Queen. See 13 June 1975.
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June 2, 1967: The Building of the House op.79 for chorus and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (53) to words of Psalm 127, composed to celebrate the opening of the Maltings Concert Hall by Queen Elizabeth II, is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings.
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June 3, 1967: The Golden Vanity op.78, a vaudeville for boys’ chorus and piano by Benjamin Britten (53) to words of Graham, is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings.
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January 25, 1968: The Oxen for female chorus and piano by Benjamin Britten (54) to words of Hardy is performed for the first time.
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May 25, 1968: Benjamin Britten receives the Sonning Prize in Copenhagen.
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June 10, 1968: The Prodigal Son op.81, a church parable by Benjamin Britten (54) to words of Plomer after the Bible, is performed for the first time, in Orford Church.
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June 17, 1968: Cello Suite no.2 op.80 by Benjamin Britten (54) is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings.
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June 19, 1968: A Wealden Trio: the Song of the Women for female chorus by Benjamin Britten (54) to words of Ford is performed for the first time, in Aldeburgh.
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March 2, 1969: Fancie for chorus and piano by Benjamin Britten (55) to words of Shakespeare is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC Scottish Home Service.
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May 19, 1969: Children’s Crusade op.82 for children’s voices, percussion, two pianos, and organ by Benjamin Britten (55) to words of Brecht (tr. Keller), composed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Save the Children Fund, is performed for the first time, in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.
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June 1, 1969: Three movements of the Suite for harp op.83 by Benjamin Britten (55) are performed for the first time, over the airwaves of BBC2 TV. See 24 June 1969.
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June 23, 1969: Tit for Tat, a cycle for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (55) to words of de la Mare, is performed for the first time, in Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh by John Shirley-Quirk and the composer.
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June 24, 1969: Suite for harp op.83 by Benjamin Britten (55) is performed completely for the first time, in Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh. See 1 June 1969.
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September 29, 1969: Symphony no.14 op.135 for soprano, bass, strings, and percussion by Dmitri Shostakovich (63) to words of Garcia Lorca, Apollinaire, Küchelbecker, and Rilke, is performed publicly for the first time, in the Hall of the Glinka Academy Choir, Leningrad. It is greeted with a thunderous ovation. The work is dedicated to Benjamin Britten (55). See 21 June 1969.
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October 31, 1969: String Quartet no.8 by Peter Sculthorpe (40) is performed for the first time, at Sussex University, Brighton, Great Britain, before the jury for the Radcliffe Prize.  The jury includes Benjamin Britten (56) and Thea Musgrave (41).  See 15 January 1970.
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January 14, 1970: Improvisations on an Impromptu by Benjamin Britten for orchestra by William Walton (67) is performed for the first time, at the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco.
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June 14, 1970: Benjamin Britten (55) conducts the first performance outside the USSR of the Symphony no.14 by Dmitri Shostakovich (63). The symphony is dedicated to the conductor.
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June 30, 1970: A Fanfare for DW for brass by Benjamin Britten (56) is performed for the first time, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
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February 10, 1971: Five Waltzes for piano by Benjamin Britten (57) are performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC, 46 years after they were composed.
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March 7, 1971: Seven of the twelve movements of Who are these Children? op.84 for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (57) to words of Soutar are performed for the first time, in New Hall, University College, Cardiff the composer at the keyboard. See 4 May 1971 and 26 September 1971.
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May 4, 1971: At the “official” premiere, eleven of the twelve movements from Who are these Children? op.84, a cycle for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (57) to words of Soutar, are performed in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, by Peter Pears and the composer. See 7 March 1971 and 26 September 1971.
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May 16, 1971: Owen Wingrave op.85, an opera by Benjamin Britten (57) to words of Piper after James, is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of BBC2 television and broadcast services of twelve other countries, conducted by the composer. See 10 May 1973.
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June 26, 1971: Canticle IV “The Journey of the Magi” op.86 for three voices and piano by Benjamin Britten (57) to words of Eliot is performed for the first time, in Snape Maltings the composer at the piano.
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September 26, 1971: Who are these Children? op.84 for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (57) to words of Soutar, is performed completely for the first time, in Snape Maltings Concert Hall the composer at the keyboard. See 7 March 1971 and 4 May 1971.
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March 29, 1972: Prime Minister Edward Heath officiates at a dinner honoring the 70th birthday of William Walton. The composer is in attendance as is Queen Elizabeth and her mother, Benjamin Britten (58), Arthur Bliss, Kenneth Clark, Herbert Howells, Henry Moore, and Laurence Olivier. The first three of the Five Bagatelles for guitar by William Walton are performed for the first time today, over the airwaves of BBC television originating in London. See 27 May 1972.
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May 7, 1973: Benjamin Britten (59) undergoes heart surgery at the National Heart Hospital, London. A faulty heart valve is replaced but the composer suffers a small stroke during the procedure which leaves him with reduced use of his right arm. This ends his career as performing pianist and conductor. The entire procedure is compromised by the surprise discovery of tertiary syphilis in the aorta.
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May 10, 1973: Owen Wingrave, an opera by Benjamin Britten (59) to words of Piper after James, is staged for the first time, at Covent Garden. See 16 May 1971.
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June 16, 1973: Death in Venice op.88, an opera by Benjamin Britten (59) to words of Piper after Mann, is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings. The composer, still recovering from last month’s heart surgery, is too ill to attend.
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September 29, 1973: WH Auden dies in Vienna at the age of 66. The musicologist Donald Mitchell is with Benjamin Britten (59) in Aldeburgh when he receives the news. Mitchell will later report that it was the only time he ever saw Britten cry.
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June 11, 1974: The Voice of Ariadne, an opera by Thea Musgrave (46) to words of Elguera after James, is performed for the first time, in Aldeburgh, Suffolk the composer conducting. The work is dedicated to Benjamin Britten (60) in honor of his sixtieth birthday.
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December 21, 1974: Cello Suite no.3 by Benjamin Britten (61) is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings.
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January 15, 1975: Canticle V “The Death of St. Narcissus” op.89 for solo voice and harp by Benjamin Britten (61) to words of Eliot is performed for the first time, at Schloss Elmau, Upper Bavaria.
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June 7, 1975: String Quartet in D by Benjamin Britten (61) is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings, 44 years after it was composed. Britten revised it last year.
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June 13, 1975: Suite on English Folk Tunes “A Time There Was” op.90 for orchestra by Benjamin Britten (61) is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings.
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September 14, 1975: Sacred and Profane op.91 for chorus by Benjamin Britten (61) to medieval words, is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings.
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January 11, 1976: A Birthday Hansel op.92 for voice and harp by Benjamin Britten (62) to words of Burns is performed for the first time, in Schloss Elmau, Upper Bavaria. This is the last recital ever given by Pears and Britten. See 19 March 1976.
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March 19, 1976: A Birthday Hansel op.92 for voice and harp by Benjamin Britten (62) to words of Burns is performed publicly for the first time, in Cardiff. See 11 January 1976.
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May 2, 1976: Several works for solo cello are performed for the first time, in the Tonhalle, Zürich, to celebrate the 70th birthday of Paul Sacher. Mstislav Rostropovich asked Benjamin Britten to write a theme on which other composers would create variations. However, the other composers ended up writing individual compositions. They will be published by Universal Edition as 12 Hommages à Paul Sacher. Among the works premiered today are Tema “Sacher” by Benjamin Britten (62), Sacher Variation by Witold Lutoslawski (63), and Puneña no.2 “Hommage à Paul Sacher” op.45 by Alberto Ginastera (60). See 3 July 1977.
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June 12, 1976: Benjamin Britten (62) is created a life peer as Baron Britten of Aldeburgh in the County of Suffolk, the first composer so honored.
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June 16, 1976: Phaedra op.93, a dramatic cantata for voice, strings, percussion, cello, and harpsichord by Benjamin Britten (62) to words of Racine (tr. Lowell), is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings. Audience members are shocked at the deteriorating physical condition of the composer.
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November 29, 1976: O that I had ne’er been married for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (63) to words of Burns is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of Thames Television, Britain. It was pre-recorded last 20 May. The song was composed in the 1922 and revised in 1967 or 68.
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December 4, 1976: 04:15 Edward Benjamin Britten dies of heart disease, in his home, the Red House on Golf Lane, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, United Kingdom, aged 63 years and twelve days, in the arms of Peter Pears.
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December 7, 1976: The funeral for Benjamin Britten takes place in St. Peter and Paul's Church, Aldeburgh. A procession passes through the town as bells toll. The guard of honor is made up of local lifeboatmen. The choir sings Hymn to the Virgin composed by Britten at the age of 16. Burial takes place in the churchyard attended only by close family and friends.
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December 19, 1976: String Quartet no.3 by Benjamin Britten (†0) is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings.
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March 10, 1977: A service of thanksgiving for the life and work of Benjamin Britten (†0) is held in Westminster Abbey.
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April 7, 1977: Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten for strings and bell by Arvo Pärt (41) is performed for the first time, in Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn.
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May 3, 1977: Lachrymae for viola and strings by Benjamin Britten (†0) is performed for the first time, in Recklinghausen. See 20 June 1950.
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July 11, 1977: Welcome Ode op.95 for children’s chorus and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (†0) to words of Dekker, Ford, Fielding, and Anonymous is performed for the first time, in the Corn Exchange, Ipswich.
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June 1, 1978: Joaquín Rodrigo (76) is enrolled in the Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters, and Fine Arts of Belgium to fill the vacancy left by the death of Benjamin Britten (†1).
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August 6, 1978: Paul Bunyan Overture by Benjamin Britten (†1) is performed for the first time, in Royal Albert Hall, London, 37 years after it was composed.
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March 7, 1979: Two Insect Pieces for oboe and piano by Benjamin Britten (†2) are performed for the first time, at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, 44 years after they were composed.
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March 4, 1980: Beware!, a song for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (†3) to words of Longfellow, is performed for the first time, at the University of East Anglia. The song was composed in the 1920s.
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March 30, 1980: Quatre chansons françaises for voice and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (†3) to words of Hugo and Verlaine are performed publicly for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC Radio 3 52 years after they were composed.
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May 15, 1983: Quartettino for string quartet by Benjamin Britten (†6) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of London Weekend Television, 53 years after it was composed.
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June 16, 1983: Sonatina Romantica for piano by Benjamin Britten (†6) is performed for the first time, in Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, 43 years after it was composed.
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October 2, 1983: Venite exultemus Domino for chorus and organ by Benjamin Britten (†6) is performed for the first time, in Westminster Abbey, London 22 years after it was composed.
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October 9, 1983: Krzysztof Penderecki (49) receives the Sibelius Prize in Helsinki from the Wihuri Foundation. Previous winners include Jean Sibelius (†26), Igor Stravinsky (†12), Paul Hindemith (†19), Dmitri Shostakovich (†8), Olivier Messiaen (74), Witold Lutoslawski (70), and Benjamin Britten (†6).
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November 8, 1983: An American Overture by Benjamin Britten (†6) is performed for the first time, in Birmingham Town Hall, 42 years after it was composed.
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March 4, 1984: Jubilate Deo in E flat for chorus and organ by Benjamin Britten (†7) is performed for the first time, in Winchester Cathedral, 50 years after it was composed.
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June 22, 1984: Elegy for viola by Benjamin Britten (†7) is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings, 54 years after it was composed.
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August 21, 1984: AMDG for chorus by Benjamin Britten (†7) to words of Gerard Manley Hopkins is performed completely for the first time, in the Purcell Room, London 55 years after it was composed.
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April 23, 1985: Seven works by Benjamin Britten (†8) are performed for the first time, over the airwaves of BBC Radio3: Not Even Summer Yet (1936) to words of Burra, To lie flat on the back (1937) for voice and piano to words of Auden, The Children and Sir Nameless (1953) for treble voices and piano to words of Hardy, If It’s Ever Spring Again (1953) for high voice and piano to words of Hardy, and Dawties Devotion (1969), The Gully (1969), and Tradition (1969) for tenor and piano to words of Soutar.
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August 11, 1985: Praise We Great Men for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (†8) to words of Edith Sitwell, is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings. The unfinished work was edited and orchestrated by Colin Matthews.
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October 2, 1985: Humoreske in C for orchestra by Benjamin Britten (†8) is performed for the first time, 57 years after it was composed.
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November 6, 1985: Rhapsody for string quartet by Benjamin Britten (†8) is performed for the first time, at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 56 years after it was composed.
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November 22, 1985: Night covers up the rigid land for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (†8) to words of Auden, is performed for the first time, in London 48 years after it was composed, on the 72nd anniversary of the composer’s birth.
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June 22, 1986: Twelve variations for piano by Benjamin Britten (†9) is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings, 55 years after it was composed.
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October 6, 1986: Three Small Songs for soprano and small orchestra by Benjamin Britten (†9) to words of Daniel and Fletcher, are performed for the first time, at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies, Snape, 55 years after they were composed.
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November 22, 1986: Two works by Benjamin Britten (†9) are performed for the first time, in Wigmore Hall, London on the 73rd anniversary of his birth: A Poison Tree for voice and piano to words of Blake 53 years after it was composed, and Introduction and Allegro for violin, cello, and piano 56 years after it was composed.
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December 4, 1986: Epitaph: The Clerk for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten to words of Asquith is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of BBC Radio 3 on the tenth anniversary of the composer’s death. The song was composed in the 1920s.
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April 3, 1987: Now sleeps the crimson petal for tenor, horn, and strings by Benjamin Britten (†10) to words of Tennyson, is performed for the first time, in London, 44 years after it was composed.
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June 22, 1988: Two Lullabies for two pianos by Benjamin Britten (†11) are performed publicly for the first time, at Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh 52 years after they were composed. See 19 March 1936.
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November 22, 1988: Birthday Song for Erwin by Benjamin Britten (†11) to words of Duncan is performed publicly for the first time, in London 43 years after it was composed on the 75th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
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July 28, 1989: Three Character Pieces for piano by Benjamin Britten (†12) are performed for the first time, in St. Mary’s Centre, Chester, 59 years after they were composed.
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March 7, 1990: Movement for clarinet and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (†13) is performed for the first time, in Barbican Hall, London, 48 years after it was composed.
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June 14, 1991: Christ’s Nativity, a suite for solo voices and chorus by Benjamin Britten (†14) to words from various sources, is performed completely for the first time, in St. Edmund’s Church, Southwold, 60 years after it was composed. See 24 June 1955.
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June 17, 1991: The Red Cockatoo for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten (†14) to words of Waley after Bai Juyi, is performed for the first time, at Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, 53 years after it was composed.
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June 15, 1992: Five songs by Benjamin Britten (†15) are performed for the first time, in Blythburgh Church, Aldeburgh: When you’re feeling like expressing your affection (1935/6) to words of Auden, Wild with passion (1942) to words of Beddoes , If thou wilt ease thine heart (1942) to words of Beddoes , Um Mitternacht (1959/60) to words of Goethe, and Cradle Song (1938) to words of MacNeice .
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June 11, 1993: Movement for wind sextet by Benjamin Britten (†16) is performed for the first time, in Aldeburgh Parish Church, 63 years after it was composed.
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July 23, 1994: A Cradle Song: Sleep, beauty bright, a song for soprano, counter-tenor and piano by Benjamin Britten (†17) to words of Blake, is performed for the first time, in Aldeburgh.
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November 21, 1995: String Quartet in F by Benjamin Britten (†19) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC, 67 years after it was composed. Also premiered is Britten’s First Loss for viola and piano, 69 years after it was composed.
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November 28, 1995: Four works by Benjamin Britten (†19) are performed for the first time, over the airwaves of BBC Radio 3, originating in London: Reflection for viola and piano, 65 years after it was composed; Sonatina for piano, 67 years after it was composed; and Poème no.4 for small orchestra and Sonatina for violin and piano, both 68 years after they were composed.
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November 29, 1995: A Poem of Hate for piano by Benjamin Britten (†19) is performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC, 65 years after it was composed. Also premiered is Britten’s Everyone Sang for tenor and small orchestra to words of Sassoon, 65 years after it was composed.
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December 5, 1995: Two Portraits for Strings and an incomplete Piano Concerto by Benjamin Britten (†19) are performed for the first time, over the airwaves of the BBC Radio 3, 65 years after they were composed.
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June 15, 1997: Double Concerto for violin, viola, and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (†20) is performed for the first time, in Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, 65 years after it was composed.
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November 7, 1997: Night Mail, for speaker and 16 instrumentalists by Benjamin Britten (†21), to words of Auden, is performed for the first time, in London. It comes from his film score of the same name released in 1936.
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December 1, 2012: Two Psalms for chorus and orchestra by Benjamin Britten (†35) are performed for the first time, in the Sheldonian Theatre of Oxford University, 81 years after they were written.
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June 23, 2013: A Tribute for orchestra by Wolfgang Rihm (61) is performed for the first time, in Snape Maltings Concert Hall. The work was commissioned to celebrate the centennial of the birth of Benjamin Britten (†36).