Benjamin Britten was inspired by the Suffolk coast throughout his lifetime.
From his birth in Lowestoft in 1913 to his death in 1976 Britten’s life was dominated by his affection for Suffolk and the Suffolk Coast. From the age of seven the young composer had started work here. His final opera Death in Venice was written in the county while Britten staved off his inevitable heart surgery, making use of the opera’s necessary completion as an excuse.
Britten attended the Royal College of Music from 1930 where he composed his earliest works Sinfonietta and Our Thinking Fathers. During his time in America (1938-194) he made important contacts such as Golo Mann (whose father wrote the novella Death in Venice) and continued to produce compositions of the highest quality.
Following his return to Britain in 1945 Britten wrote the bulk of his extensive corpus: The Rape of Lucretia, Albert Herring and Noye’s Fludde amongst many others. In 1976, aged 63, he was created a life peer, making him the first composer ever to have received the honour. The sheer popularity of Britten’s work which is performed not only in the UK but also further afield – Death in Venice was the Prague State Opera’s main show May-June 2011 – indicating the accessibility and appeal of Britten’s work.
In celebration of the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth in 2013 the Britten-Pears Foundation has announced awards of £775,000 in support of opera productions, new commissions and other events celebrating the composer. Britten’s home, the Suffolk coast, will no doubt form an integral part of these celebrations.
Photo Credit: liits