Sue also took immense pride in her connection with her famous uncle, a man for whom she felt tremendous affection, and of whom she spoke with great admiration.
When she commented on Britten and Pears as musicians she knew whereof she spoke, having worked with them, first as keeper of their London flat and later as their agent. Sue gained experience of their frenetic performance schedules whilst working for Ibbs and Tillett who were for several years the British-based artistic managers for both men.
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Following her marriage to Jack Phipps in she branched out and in the following year began to work with Jack as their agents Jack later became Manager of the Aldeburgh Festival between and These were particularly busy years when both men were at the peak of their careers, when concert recital, recordings and travelling — most of which were usually arranged by Sue and Jack — took place on a regular basis.
More telling of her close link is a snippet from a letter, from Peas, of when Britten was gripped by his debilitating heart condition: Even in her last years, when coping with her own declining health, Sue remained generous with her time. Her final visit to The Red House was to a book launch on a beautiful evening last June.
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Alan Britten and Sue Phipps. Posted on September 13th, under News.
Even France, the country that resisted him most strongly, has become almost Britten-obsessed. Simply the passing of time, which can have two effects. It can show that a composer is great enough to rise beyond his era.
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Or it can show he or she really was limited to his time, and that listening to the works yields only the small pleasures of antiquarianism. To me Louis Spohr and Korngold are the latter kind of composer: Mozart would be 'outraged' to hear classical music is for the elite. Did love cost Britten his life? Curlew River as Britten intended it. It has to be admitted there are some works of Britten which exude a definite period flavour.
His cabaret songs, for one, which always set my teeth on edge, and make me long for a proper German or French cabaret song. This for me is the downside to Britten. But how small it is, and how forgivable, when compared to what he has given us. But the really great composers are great precisely because they are so rooted in their times. The musical language of Peter Grimes and Billy Budd was certainly far from up-to-date, according to the arbiters of musical modernism in the late s and early s.
But in their focus on the lonely and confused individual, facing a closed authoritative society, they seem very contemporary. The modernist camp would probably retort: The variety of ways in which Britten achieved this would require a book-length article.
Time and tide: marking Benjamin Britten's centenary
Here Britten contrives a musical equivalent of cinematic flashback, and sometimes even a split-frame device the music shows us one bland thing happening over here, while over there something horrible takes place. This makes us aware of a slippage, a worrying gap, in reality itself.
At the same time we become aware of the fragmentary quality in our own mental life. In any case, the sneery references to the Verdian or Purcellian or Mahlerian elements in Britten are really a form of backhanded compliment.
Benjamin Britten centenary: how the composer proved the sneerers wrong
Think of the splendour of the fanfares in the Michelangelo sonnets, which carry us back to the Baroque splendours of Monteverdi. Or the pounding timpani strokes that begin the Sinfonia da Requiem, which import a Mahlerian weight and depth into that piece. Think of the echoes of Gershwin in Peter Grimes.