Benjamin Britten is one of the most extraordinary composers of the 20th century. His motto was simple: "our job is to be useful, and to the living." And to this end, he poured out a torrent of music for every conceivable occasion - grand opera, symphony, concerto, a War Requiem, children's pieces - all of it passionate, traditional but with an acutely modern flavor, above all tuneful. His music is now in the standard repertoire of orchestras around the world.
As a composer and a man he had many remarkable collaborators. The novelist E.M. Foster; the cellist Rostropovich; the guitarist Julian Bream; and above all the tenor Peter Pears. Theirs was a loving relationship whose deep mutual understanding brought forth some of the most beautiful love music of our century.
This film is both a celebration of Benjamin Britten's life and work, and a first hand account of an inspired and inspiring human relationship.
Featuring Music from:
The Rape of Lucretia
Turn of the Screw
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Burning Fiery Furnace
Death in Venice
Prince of the Pagodas
Building of the House
The Way to the Sea
Sinfonia da Requiem
Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
"Palmer is a master of the medium - he takes us into the minds of men of music and explains why they accomplished what they did. This is the most absorbing film ever made about a composer, how he worked, what he thought and what made him what he was. It is as important as any book written on the man and his music." - John Ardoin, The New York Times.
"Tony Palmer proves once again he is a deeply intuitive, caring and thoughtful filmmaker, second to none. This was a loving portrait of a most remarkable and gifted man." - Martin Jackson, The Daily Mail
Benjamin BrittenLeonard BernsteinPeter PearsBarbara BrittenBeth Welford (sister)Sviatoslav RichterJanet BakerImogen HolstBilly BuddJulian BreamHeather HarperJohn Shirley-QuirkRosamund StrodeRudolf Bing and many others.
The English Chamber Orchestra
Conductor: Steuart Bedford
Director: Tony Palmer
Associate Producer: Donald Mitchell
Executive Producer: Nick Elliott
Film Editor: Graham Bunn
Edited by: Melvyn Bragg
Researchers: Jill Burrows and Annunziata Asquith
Camera: Nick Knowland
Sound Dubbing: Bill Rowe with Ray Merrin
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