Literary Britten

3 September 2011 - 4 September 2011

Girton College, University of Cambridge

Convener

Dr Kate Kennedy (Girton College, University of Cambridge)

Summary

Benjamin Britten is one of the most eminent and influential figures in twentieth century British music.  He was also one of the most literary composers in the English language, taking a vast array of poets and authors, and creating music that alters, enhances, and engages with text on a level arguably rarely attained by any other composer.  His music has received much critical attention from musicologists, but his relationship to literature has rarely been the focus of discussion.  Many literary critics are passionate about Britten, but have not had an academic forum in which to discuss his work.

This conference aims for the first time to approach Britten through his texts.  It intends to provide an opportunity for musicologists and literary critics to share their work, with the intention of deepening understanding in both disciplines of the uniquely complex relationship between Britten's words and music.


The conference will include a concert held at Girton College on 4 September. It will feature the winner of the 2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Rosenblatt Recital Prize, tenor Andrew Kennedy, and actor Alex Jennings who will be reading texts set by Britten. For more information on the concert, please click here.

 

Sponsors

    

The conveners are grateful for the support of  The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), the Britten-Pears Foundation, Girton College and the Girton Town Charity.

 

Administrative assistance: Helga Brandt (Conference Programme Manager, CRASSH)

Programme

Friday 2 September

6.30 - 7.30pm

Dinner available in Main Hall, Girton College (not included in conference fee)

 

Bar open from 6.30pm

 

Saturday 3 September

9.30 - 10.00am

Coffee (Old Hall)

Registration and opening remarks (Stanley Library)

10.00 - 11.00am

Stanley Library

Keynote

Adrian Poole, Britten and Modern Tragedy

Chair: Kate Kennedy

 11.00 - 11.30am

Coffee (Old Hall)

11.30am - 1.00pm

Stanley Library 

Session 1

Chair: David Crilly

  • Lucy Walker, 'Settings from boyhood' Britten's early texts
  • Adrian Paterson, Out of the picture?: Britten and Louis MacNeice
  • David Collard, Montagu Slater - a fifteen year collaboration

1.00 - 2.00pm

Lunch (Fellows' Dining Rooms)

2.00 - 3.30pm

Stanley Library 

Session 2

Chair: Kate Kennedy 

  • Nicholas Hammond, 'Britten's Peter Grimes: now is gossip put on trial'
  • Peter Happe, Benjamin Britten and medieval drama: from Abraham and Isaac to 'The Nativity'
  • David Crilly, Mockeries, prayers and bells: parody as compositional strategy in Britten and Owen

3.30 - 4.00pm

Coffee (Old Hall)

4.00pm - 5.30pm

Stanley Library 

Session 3

Chair: Adrian Poole 

  • Christopher Mark, Britten and melancholy : the settings of Blake and Hardy
  • Vicki Stroeher, 'Without any tune': The role of the discursive shift in Britten's interpretation of poetry
  • Nicholas Clark, 'With unextinguish'd taper I kept watch': Britten and the literary supernatural

7.30pm

Dinner (Girton Hall)

Bar open from 5.30pm

 


Sunday 4 September

7.30 - 9.00am

Breakfast for residents (Main Hall)

9.00 - 9.30am

Coffee (Old Hall)

9.30 - 11.00am

Stanley Library

Session 4

Chair: Imani Moseley 

  • Brian Young, 'Reading at Intervals': British Romanticism and Britten's radicalism
  • Ros Powell, ‘For M is musick’: Britten and Christopher Smart
  • David Fuller, Holy Sonnets of John Donne

11.00 - 11.30am

Coffee (Old Hall)

11.30am - 1.00pm

Stanley Library



 

Session 5

Chair: Duncan Large  

  • Rebekah Scott, Britten's drops
  • Will May, 'The Habit of Reading': Britten, Austen and Mansfield Park
  • Paul Higgins, Text setting in Britten's On This Island: musical unity and intertextuallity

1.00 - 2.00pm

Lunch (Fellows' Dining Rooms)

2.00 - 3.30pm

Recital (Hall)

A recital of music and readings by Benjamin Britten and WH Auden

Actor Alex Jennings
Tenor Andrew Kennedy (winner of Recital Prize, Cardiff Singer of the World 2005)
Pianist Iain Burnside
World premiere Tim Watts Six Songs to Orpheus

For tickets for the recital only, please click here

 3.30 - 4.30pm

 Drinks reception (Fellow's dining rooms)

 4.30 - 5.30pm

Stanley Library

Session 6

Chair: Kate Kennedy

  • Joanna Bullivant, Literary and musical modernisms in 1930s Britain: Britten and Auden's Our Hunting Fathers revisited
  • Alan Munton, Modernity and Archaism in Ronald Duncan’s libretto for The Rape of Lucretia

 5.30 - 6.30pm

 Roundtable discussion (Stanley Library)

7.00pm

Dinner available in Main Hall (not included in conference fee)

Bar open from 6.30pm