The part of Britten’s early professional career he spent writing music for film is relatively well-documented but his contribution to the world of radio drama is less heralded. Beginning with King Arthur when he was just 23 he went on to produce nearly thirty scores, many of which are now lost – music for serialised adaptations, one-off dramas and even wartime propaganda series produced by broadcasters on both sides of the Atlantic.
This Britten weekend centres round perhaps his highest-profile collaboration in this field – with the poet and playwright Louis MacNeice – and includes works by Britten and others written specifically for broadcasts, and the concert pieces they later became. In association with BBC Radio 3, who will record the weekend for future broadcast, there is a panel discussion exploring the history and development of radio drama, and the next generation of composers present original music written in the preceding days.
A snapshot of the young Britten, and an opportunity to hear rarities for both studio and concert platform, this is also a celebration of a unique genre still less than a century old – drama brought to a mass audience by the wireless age.
Main image: Louis MacNeice, courtesy of the BBC
This weekend has been made possible by a generous legacy from David Andren