Benjamin Britten: place, poetry, music
Time: 14:00 - 16:10
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Course Code: MD703A
Duration: 10 sessions (over 11 weeks)
What is the course about?
Over the course of his career, Benjamin Britten not only wrote a string of hugely successful operas; he also composed concert music, community works, film scores and even a piece for television. A brilliant pianist and conductor, and the founder of the Aldeburgh Festival, he and his partner Peter Pears were to have a profound effect on the shaping of British musical life from the 1930s onwards. This course provides an opportunity to study some of his best-loved works in more depth, visit some less frequently explored corners of the repertoire, and place this remarkable man in historical and cultural context.
What will we cover?
- Britten’s roles at the GPO Film Unit and within the English Opera Group
- Key operas, including Peter Grimes and Gloriana
- Song cycles (e.g. On This Island), chamber music and orchestral works such as The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
- Britten’s interest in early British music
- Reception of Britten’s music at home and abroad
- The foundation of the Aldeburgh Festival.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- List some of Britten’s most important works
- Identify some of the styles and influences in Britten’s music
- Name Britten’s most important collaborators
- Summarise the significance of the Aldeburgh Festival and Britten’s relationship with Aldeburgh on his own career, and British musical life more generally.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course in intended to be accessible for anyone with an interest in Western classical music. We will look at various scores and historical documents during this course but you do not need to read music notation to participate in these activities. All texts will be in English or accompanied by an English translation. Musical scores are all available free online via IMSLP.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Each class will involve a combination of spoken presentations from the tutor, recorded and live musical examples, and class discussion and activities. These will include tasks for pairs and small groups, whole-class discussions and individual activities. There will be some small tasks to complete between classes (usually brief reading and/or listening tasks), and all materials for these – such as video links and texts – will be made available online.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
All classes, learning materials and online resources are included in the price. Those who wish to continue their learning outside the classes will be offered suggestions for further reading and listening, but this is not compulsory in order to complete the course.
You will need to bring paper and writing implements to take notes and participate fully in group activities. All presentation material and class handouts will also be made accessible in digital format.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
To find out more about music history classes Music history courses in London and online which lists our full programme of classes ordered by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.
Dr Katy Hamilton is a freelance researcher, writer and presenter on music. She is fast becoming one of the UK’s most sought-after speakers on music, providing talks for a host of organisations including the Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre, BBC Proms, Ryedale Festival and Oxford Lieder Festival. In addition, she regularly writes programme notes for the Salzburg Festival, North Norfolk Festival and the Philharmonia Orchestra, and is a frequent contributor to BBC Radio 3’s Record Review. Katy worked as Graham Johnson’s research assistant for his monumental Franz Schubert: The Songs and their Poets (Yale University Press, 2014) and is co-editor of Brahms in the Home and the Concert Hall (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and Brahms in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2019). In addition to her research and presentation work, Katy has taught at the Royal College of Music, City Lit, the University of Nottingham and Middlesex University, working with students in performance workshops and music history classes. She has been teaching Music History courses at City Lit since 2015. She is also Public Events Programmer at the Foundling Museum in central London.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.