Benjamin Britten: place, poetry, music

Course Dates: 17/01/19 - 28/03/19
Time: 14:00 - 16:10
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: Katy Hamilton

A chance to learn more about the life and music of the most important British composer of the twentieth century, Benjamin Britten. Come and find out about his best-loved works, his network of brilliant creative friends, and the establishment and legacy of the Aldeburgh Festival. Tutor: Dr Katy Hamilton [external website]

Break week: 14th February (please note this is different to other music history & appreciation courses).


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 We will look at various scores and historical documents during this course but you do not need to read music notation to participate in these activities.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.

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?

We ercommend: (MD703C) Disney: music and image

To find out more about music appreciation classes and to read some of our recommendations, please see the blog post Music history and appreciation: the 2018/19 programme which lists our full programme of classes listed by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Sorry, this course is now full

Course Code: MD703B

Full Thu, day, 17 Jan - 28 Mar '19

Duration: 10 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Full fee: £189.00
Senior fee: £151.00
Concession: £115.00

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.