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Britten and the Far East: Asian Influences in the Music of Benjamin Britten

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Benjamin Britten's interest in the musical traditions of the Far East had a far-reaching influence on his compositional style; this book is the first to investigate the highly original cross-cultural synthesis he was able to achieve through the use of material borrowed from Balinese, Japanese and Indian music. Britten's visit to Indonesia and Japan in 1955-6 is reconstructed from archival sources, and shown to have had a profound impact on his subsequent work: the techniques of Balinese gamelan music were used in...
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Overview

Benjamin Britten's interest in the musical traditions of the Far East had a far-reaching influence on his compositional style; this book is the first to investigate the highly original cross-cultural synthesis he was able to achieve through the use of material borrowed from Balinese, Japanese and Indian music. Britten's visit to Indonesia and Japan in 1955-6 is reconstructed from archival sources, and shown to have had a profound impact on his subsequent work: the techniques of Balinese gamelan music were used in the ballet The Prince of the Pagodas (1957), and then became an essential feature of Britten's compositional style, at their most potent in Death in Venice(1973). The No drama and Gagaku court music of Japan were the inspiration for the trilogy of church parables Britten composed in the 1960s. The precise nature of these influences is discussed; Britten's sporadic borrowings from Indian music are also fully analysed. There is a survey of critical responses to Britten's cross-cultural experiments. Dr MERVYN COOKE lectures in music at the University of Nottingham.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
For anyone wanting to get to grips with Britten's music and his eclectic compositional style - crucial reading. MUSIC AND LETTERS Fascinating and persuasive blend of documentary and critical study. MUSICAL TIMES An intelligent and detailed study. THE JAPAN SOCIETY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780851158303
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
  • Publication date: 5/17/2001
  • Series: Aldeburgh Studies in Music , #4
  • Edition description: BOOK & CD
  • Pages: 299
  • Product dimensions: 0.63 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 6.14 (d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
List of musical examples on compact disc
Acknowledgements
Glossary of Indonesian and Japanese terms
1 Making Tonic and Dominant Seem like Ghosts 1
2 Britten and Colin McPhee 23
3 Bali 50
4 The Prince of the Pagodas 90
5 Japan 112
6 From No to Church Parable: the Evolution of Curlew River, 1956-64 130
I The No Theatre 130
II Sumidagawa and the Curlew River libretto 137
III Curlew River and the dramatic style of No 153
IV Curlew River and European mediaeval drama 160
V The musical style of Curlew River: No and Gagaku 165
7 The Later Church Parables 190
I The Burning Fiery Furnace 190
II The Prodigal Son 205
8 Stylistic Synthesis: Death in Venice 220
9 The Composer and his Critics 245
Bibliography 259
Index 272
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