In the triumvirate of composer-performer-listener, while the listener always wins, the performer is the interpreter through which the listener experiences the writings of the composer. When the composer and performer are combined, however, a unique situation arises: the link from the composer to the listener becomes a direct line and the composer becomes his/her own interpreter. Such is the case with Benjamin Britten. Britten conducted almost his entire repertoire in recordings for Decca (the exceptions being Paul Bunyan, Owen Wingrave, and Death in Venice). A comparative analysis of the recordings of four of Britten's works, the Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, Op. 31; Albert Herring, Op. 39; Spring Symphony, Op. 44; and the Nocturne, Op. 60, shows that despite his complaints about performers not following his tempo markings, Britten often deviated from them himself, tending slower. Britten also occasionally added additional rubato, ritardandi, and accelerandi to his works. Additionally, a discrepancy regarding a pitch in the "Prelude" of the Serenade comes to light. Video of Britten conducting the Nocturne in rehearsal with the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) Vancouver provides additional insight into his methodology. Benjamin Britten succeeded as a composer-conductor, and his catalogue of recordings provides essential primary reference material when studying his works.
- Benjamin Britten: composer as conductor and the art of self interpretation
The date the item was original created (prior to any relationship with the ASU Digital Repositories.)
Collections this item is in
Citation and reuse
Statement of Responsibility
by Walter P. Sterneman III