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His mastery of the orchestra is evident even in such early works as the song cycles Quatre chansons françaises and Our Hunting Fathers, scores which display remarkable inventiveness and technical brilliance. The sombre majesty of the Sinfonia da Requiem and the dazzling colours of the ballet The Prince of the Pagodas represent the composer at the height of his powers, while the Suite on English Folk Tunes, written in his last years, is a hauntingly beautiful farewell to the orchestra. His response to commissions, and to soloists who were his friends, prompted works in every genre: who but Britten could have produced such a tour-deforce as The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, a work that speaks to everyone, yet which is also a remarkable ‘concerto’ for orchestra?

He was as eloquent on the grandest scale, in the War Requiem, as when writing for amateurs, in his last completed work, the Welcome Ode. Britten stands secure as one of the greatest 20th-century composers, whether writing forceful ‘political’ pieces – Ballad of Heroes – expressively programmatic works – the Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes – or virtuosic concertos – the Cello Symphony. His orchestral works inspire and enchant per formers and audiences alike throughout the world.  ~ Text © courtesy of the Britten-Pears Foundation



Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

Boosey & Hawkes
Instrumentation: 2.picc.2.2.2- whip/BD/SD/tamb-harp-strings
Duration: 17 mins


Suite on English Folk Tunes "A time there was..."

Faber Music
Instrumentation: 2(II=picc).2(II=corA).2.2-
Duration: 14 mins


Sinfonia da Requiem

Boosey & Hawkes
Instrumentation: 3(III=picc,afl(opt)).2.corA.3(II=Ebcl;III=bcl).asax(opt).2.dbn-6(V,VIopt).3.3.1-timp.perc(4):BD/cyms/SD/tamb/whip/xyl-harp(2)(IIopt)-pno-strings
Duration: 20 mins


Young Apollo

Faber Music
Instrumentation: Piano, string quartet and string orchestra
Duration: 10 mins


Violin Concerto

Boosey & Hawkes
Instrumentation: 3(II,III=picc).2(II=corA).2.2-
Duration: 31 mins






Learn More


A Guide to the Orchestral Works - Benjamin Britten
A Guide to the Orchestral Works

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