Benjamin Britten

A portrait of the life and work of Benjamin Britten.

Michael Oliver


Price: €12.95

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Benjamin Britten (1913–76) was the greatest English composer of his time, and the first of his generation to enjoy a wide international reputation. With the great success of Peter Grimes (1945) he effectively reinvented English opera and was a pioneer of music for film and radio. For much of his life, however, British critics dismissed his music merely as 'clever'. Hounded by malicious gossip, the details of his private life were fascinating: the author explores with sophistication the complex ways in which his sexuality and his political and social convictions directly or indirectly inspired much of his art.

In this masterly biography, Michael Oliver creates a portrait of a great artist and discusses the contradictions between his quintessential English character and his world stature, his outsider status and his membership of the establishment, his artistic daring and his constant regard for musical forms and traditions.


Format: Paperback
Size: 220 x 156 mm (8 5/8 x 6 1/8 in)
Pages: 240 pp
Illustrations: 80 illustrations
ISBN: 9780714847719

Michael Oliver, who sadly died in 2002, was well known as a writer and broadcaster, having written and compiled numerous programmes for BBC Radio 3 and written regularly for Gramophone and other magazines for over 20 years. He was also the author of Igor Stravinsky in the 20th-Century Composers series.

"Enthusiastically recommended."—Library Journal

"Finely balanced and beautifully written."—Opera

"Masterfully written. A highly recommended book."—Scenaria

"Michael Oliver’s Phaidon volume on Britten is one of the best in the series to date. The only regret, says Michael Tanner, is that the book isn’t longer."—Classic CD

On the 20th Century Composers Series

"As a series, Phaidon's 20th Century Composers has brought remarkable variety and a welter of information, both necessary and delightfully trivial. Intended both for the general reader and for the more enthusiastically musical."—The Scotsman

"Enthusiastically recommended."—Library Journal

"Finely balanced and beautifully written."—Opera

George Gershwin
Leonard Bernstein
American Pioneers


Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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