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Gresham College: Dr. Paul Kildea – Darkness Audible – Benjamin Britten at 100 – #3/3 – 1971 – 1976


NB: Note this lecture predates video release of lectures by Gresham College

About the series

A series of three lectures tracing Benjamin Britten’s life and work, delivered by Benjamin Britten’s new biographer, Dr Paul Kildea.

About the lecture

In the history of art late works are the catastrophes,’ proposed Theodor Adorno.  In this illustrated lecture Paul Kildea, author of the first major biography of Benjamin Britten in twenty years, disputes the narrative of decline that has engulfed Britten’s music since the early 1970s.

The ‘catastrophe’ in Britten’s music was not its quality, but how little traction it has had in the past forty years. Kildea unpicks Britten’s precarious health and shows how it made him more determined than ever to write down the music that was on his mind. He discusses key late works – including Death in Venice, Phaedre, the String Quartet No. 3 – and how Britten saw them as a way of finishing old business and charting new territory. In this lecture, as in the previous two, Kildea looks at the personal and emotional insecurities that helped shape the twentieth century’s consummate musician.

This is the third in a series of three lectures in which conductor Paul Kildea, author of a major new biography of composer Benjamin Britten, explores the life and music of this colossal twentieth-century artist.

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