Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century by Paul Kildea - review by Simon Heffer

Simon Heffer

Settling Scores

Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century


Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 666pp £30

Benjamin Britten’s centenary this year would not be complete without a new biography that its publishers are selling as the definitive life of the greatest British composer of the 20th century. Sadly, any reader who swallows either contention may be disappointed.

Paul Kildea ought to have written a superb book. He has published two other admirable works on Britten, the first of which, Selling Britten, was expanded from the thesis for his Oxford doctorate. In this biography, he has discovered the shocking medical fact that Britten died partly as a result

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