Benjamin Britten | Credit: Keystone Press / Alamy


An English composer, conductor and pianist, Britten was one of the central figures of twentieth century music. Born in Lowestoft in Suffolk, Britten grew up in a house overlooking the North Sea, a view that would later inspire some of his music. At 15 he began composition lessons with the composer Frank Bridge, who remained an influential mentor through his early career.


His remarkable body of work ranges from a series of operas which have entered the repertoire, including Peter Grimes, The Rape of Lucretia, Billy Budd, The Turn of the Screw and Death in Venice, to song cycles including the Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, to the pacifist choral work War Requiem

He also produced much music for orchestra and chamber ensembles, including symphonies, concerti, and chamber and solo works. 

Britten and his life-long partner Peter Pears were passionate about the importance of music in the community and the involvement of young performers in music making. They founded the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme to provide high-level performance training for the world’s best emerging professional musicians. In 1948 they founded the Aldeburgh Festival and, in 1967, the Queen opened Snape Maltings Concert Hall as a larger venue for the growing festival, an annual event that continues to flourish to this day.