The British Library celebrates Britten's centenary with a new exhibition

Draft score for A Young Person's Guide for the Orchestra goes on display for very first time at the British Library as part of Britten 100

Benjamin Britten
Published: June 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm

The British Library has launched an exhibition to explore the inspirations behind Britten’s music through handwritten scores, concert memorabilia and manuscripts of the literary works that influenced the composer.


Poetry in Sound: the Music of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) gathers together original draft scores – including that for A Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra, on display for the very first time – and unpublished recordings from the Library’s Sound Archive to explore the starting points of Britten’s compositions.

Photographs, letters and historic concert programmes will be among the items displayed to reveal the influence that literary greats such as William Shakespeare, William Blake, W H Auden, Wilfred Owen and Henry James had on Britten.

Also on display will be the original handwritten draft of Wilfred Owen’s Anthem for Doomed Youth, which Britten incorporated into the War Requiem.

Curator Rupert Ridgewell says: 'We are delighted to be able to share such important artefacts, many never before seen, from the British Library’s extensive collections. Britten’s work spans almost every musical genre and this exhibition explores how literary and poetic influences shaped his development as a composer, which we hope will show him in a new light.'


Curated by Rupert Ridgewell, Sandra Tuppen and Jonathan Summers, the exhibition is on display in The Folio Society Gallery until 15 September 2013.

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