Benjamin Britten’s 100th Birthday….NOT!

I don’t know if it was a surfeit of music, being on a diet (chocolate deprivation) or an impending birthday that throws me ever closer to AARP, but boy did I screw up November 22, 2012,  Benjamin Britten’s 100th birthday. (Okay,  he died in 1976, so it’s not as if he was going to send me flowers or call in during the next pledge drive.)

Britten was the greatest British composer since Henry Purcell (1659-1695).  Britten is the composer of Peter Grimes, Billy Budd, Spring Symphony, Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and the great War Requiem. Britten it was who got the royal commission to write Gloriana for the coronation in 1953.  Peter Grimes was the first wildly successful 20th century opera since the death of Richard Strauss.

Benjamin Britten was the intimate of Dieskau and Rostropovich, two of the many premier artists to premiere his music.  The Queen opened Britten’s theater at Aldeburgh in 1967. The Queen Mum spent her 80th birthday with Britten and his partner and muse, tenor Peter Pears. So why wouldn’t the world of music commemorate his 100th birthday?

Because, dear reader, in spite of my programming weekends with the birthday boy’s music, and begging and cajoling one step short of a hissy fit for extended coverage in AirFare,


Yup, I’m off one year. I had wondered why I wasn’t reading of royal command performances, new productions of the operas in London and New York, not to mention a series of concerts at least at the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. And wouldn’t the centenary be a good time for a Britten postage stamp in Her Majesty’s Mail? Yes, of course. NEXT YEAR* when it’s his bleedin’ 100th birthday. NOT NOW.

* Get ready for 2013. Giuseppe Verdi is 200; so is Richard Wagner. And Benjamin Britten’s 100th birthday (I mean it this time) is November 22, 2013.