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Britten 100 launched: centenary events worldwide

(September 2012)

Celebrations for Britten's centenary in 2013 include performances in 140 cities around the world

The Britten-Pears Foundation has launched Britten 100, celebrating the centenary in 2013 of one of the 20th century’s greatest cultural figures. Over 1200 performances of Benjamin Britten’s music in 30 countries have already been announced for the centenary seasons, amounting to the widest ever global celebration of a British composer. His significance in British cultural history is recognised by the Royal Mint’s announcement that a new 50 pence coin depicting Britten will go into circulation in November 2013.

In the UK all 14 of Britten’s major operas will be performed, including a new staging of Gloriana, which returns to The Royal Opera 60 years since it was first given to celebrate the Queen’s Coronation. This co-production with Hamburg Opera will be screened in cinemas worldwide. Four Britten operas will be staged by Opera North, and Birmingham Royal Ballet presents a new choreography of The Prince of the Pagodas produced with National Ballet of Japan.

Highlights in Aldeburgh, where Britten lived and worked most of his life, include performances of Peter Grimes on the beach and six new works specially commissioned by the Britten-Pears Foundation and Royal Philharmonic Society. A week-long festival in Glasgow sees Scotland’s four leading orchestras and ensembles come together in April 2013.

Britten’s global appeal is demonstrated with territorial premieres of his operas staged in Brazil, Chile, China, Israel, Russia, Turkey, Japan and New Zealand. A Britten festival in Moscow includes operas, four concerts with the Russian National Orchestra and an exhibition at the Pushkin Museum. Special centenary series are mounted by Deutsche Oper am Rhein and Opéra de Lyon, each presenting four Britten operas. War Requiem travels widely with over 60 performances, including three by the Berliner Philharmoniker and Simon Rattle. A series of events at Carnegie Hall in New York will be announced in early 2013.

New books for the centenary include Paul Kildea’s Benjamin Britten – the first major biography for twenty years (Penguin’s Allen Lane), a collection of rare images from The Red House archive entitled Britten in Pictures, and the sixth and final volume of Letters from a Life (Boydell & Brewer). BBC Radio and Television honours Britten with a year-long celebration including broadcasts of all his operas and new TV documentaries. New films are planned by Tony Palmer, Tony Britten and Margaret Williams, and the British Film Institute presents a Britten season.

For full details on the centenary visit

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