Britten’s arrangement of The National Anthem is conceived as a single crescendo, building powerfully from a simple pianissimo opening to a resounding fortissimo close. In 1967, Britten prepared a reduced orchestration for the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
Choral level of difficulty: Level 1-2 (5 greatest)
This unusual arrangement of the British National Anthem was written for the Leeds Festival and sets two verses. The first is miraculously piano and the hushed awe engendered is extraordinary. How did he come up with something so simple and so original? This verse is in E flat major. Four bars later and a molto crescendo past we are in a flag waving B flat major and singing for all we are worth. The final phrase is repeated twice to round the whole thing off. It is a prime example of the simplest things so often being the most effective, as heard when this version has been programmed at The Last Night of the Proms.
Repertoire note by Paul Spicer