Rethinking Britten offers a fresh portrait of one of the most widely performed composers of the 20th century. In twelve essays, a diverse group of contributors-both established authorities and leading younger voices-explore a significant portion of Benjamin Britten's extensive oeuvre across a range of genres, including opera, song cycle, and concert music. Well informed by earlier writings on the composer's professional career and private life, Rethinking Britten also uncovers many fresh lines of inquiry, from the Lord Chamberlain's last-minute censorship of the Rape of Lucretia libretto to psychoanalytic understandings of Britten's staging of gender roles; from the composer's delight in schoolboy humor to his operatic revival of Purcellian dance rhythms; from his creative responses to Cold-War-era internationalism to his dealings with BBC Television. Each essay blends awareness of overarching contexts with insights into particular expressive achievements.
Balancing biographical, archival, and analytic commentary with cultural and historical criticism, Rethinking Britten broadens the interpretive context surrounding all phases of Britten's career and is essential reading for scholars and fans alike.