Simon Heffer

Another Kind of Corpsing

Letters From a Life: The Selected Letters of Benjamin Britten - Volume 3, 1946-1951

By

Faber & Faber 758pp £25 order from our bookshop

THE MORE ONE reads about, or by, Benjamin Britten, the more perplexing he becomes. He remains perhaps the only genius British music has produced in modern times, a man who by his mid-twenties was writing works of an originality and brilliance that make him the equal of any composer in history. Yet, no doubt because of this, he possessed a self-centredness and an egotism that make him at times seem almost repulsive. He could be a man of great personal generosity and kindliness: yet he would dump people – they called themselves ‘corpses’ – who were no longer of any use to him on his mission. He had an instinctive rapport with children, but seems to have found many adults unfathomable.

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