Composer Profile: Benjamin Britten, The Greatest English Composer Of All Time

By David Salazar

Benjamin Britten, born on Nov. 22, 1913, is arguably the greatest English composer of all time.

He composed a plethora of major works across a wide variety of classical styles, but he was easily one of the most influential opera composers of the 20th century.

His first “opera” was “Paul Bunyan,” which had its premiere on May 5, 1941. “Peter Grimes” would follow four years later and from there, he went on to make a total of 16 operas, his final one, “Death in Venice,” premiering in 1973.

Britten had a noted creative and personal relationship with Peter Pears, who was the tenor of choice for many of Britten’s major works.

He wrote a plethora of song cycles and his famed War Requiem remains at the forefront of large-scale compositions.

He died on Dec. 4, 1976.

Major Works

Britten was a composer of a wide range of works, but in terms of opera, his most noted masterpiece is “Peter Grimes,” widely considered one of the greatest operas of all time and likely the greatest in the English language. Stunningly, it was Britten’s first true opera.

His other great operas include “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Billy Budd,” as well as his chamber opera “The Turn of the Screw.”

 Read More on Britten

A Look At Five Major Opera Recordings Under his Baton

2 Great Interpreters of Peter Grimes

Watch and Listen

Here is a listen to “Peter Grimes.”


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