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Music and Sexuality in BrittenSelected Essays$
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Philip Brett and George Haggerty

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520246096

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520246096.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Britten and Grimes

Britten and Grimes

(p.11) Chapter One Britten and Grimes
Music and Sexuality in Britten

Philip Brett

University of California Press

Leaving England for America at the commencement of the war, Benjamin Britten eventually returned to his homeland, realizing the essence of an artists' being in the vicinity of his roots. This chapter appraises the proclaimed proximate connection between Britten's decision to retract to England and the opera, Peter Grimes. It was in Southern California in summer 1941 that Britten picked up an issue of The Listener to which E. M. Forster had contributed an chapter on the Suffolk poet, George Crabbe. This seems to have been the turning point in Britten's assumption not only about nationality but also locality. Crabbe's Peter Grimes is one of the poor of the Borough, and though the poet grew up among the poor, he did not like them. His portrait of the man whose cruelty leads to the death of three boy apprentices from the workhouse and whose guilty conscience drives him to madness and death is alleviated by few redeeming features; a bold and unusual choice for the central figure of a musical drama in the tradition of grand opera.

Keywords:   grand opera, Peter Grimes, Benjamin Britten, Suffolk poet, musical drama

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