Benjamin Britten's "Canticles" and their literary thematic and musical unity with his operas.
AuthorDelmore, John Patrick.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis document is an indepth examination of the compositional and intellectual bonds Benjamin Britten applied to the following operas and Canticles; Albert Herring, op.39 & Canticle I, op.40/Billy Budd, op.50 & Canticle II, op.51/The Turn of the Screw, op.54 & Canticle III, op.55/Owen Wingrave, op.85 & Canticle IV, op.86/Death in Venice, op.88 & Canticle V, op.89. The striking musical and literary similarities of these works are compared to especially provide students and teachers of Britten's music with a much needed performance guide to the Canticles. The five Canticles incorporate many of the key stylistic elements found in Britten's larger works yet are often neglected due to their sophistication of texts and music. Although titled "canticles", these chamber pieces for voice(s) and various instruments share only two common features; religious themes, and expansive musical forms. Apart from these unifying traits there is substantial variety in the choice of texts and in the development of the musical elements. Furthermore, the similar thematic nature of these opera/Canticle pairs reflects the life long personal commitment Britten maintained for the moral, social and psychological concepts they espouse.