Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) was an English composer, conductor, and pianist; and one of the central figures of twentieth-century British classical music.
Britten showed talent from an early age, and first came to public attention with the a cappella choral work A Boy Was Born in 1934. With the premiere of his opera Peter Grimes in 1945, he leapt to international fame. Over the next nine years, he wrote six more operas, establishing himself as one of the leading twentieth-century composers in this genre.
Britten’s interests as a composer were wide-ranging; he produced important music in such varied genres as orchestral, choral, solo vocal (much of it written for his life partner, tenor Sir Peter Pears), chamber and instrumental, as well as film music. He also took a great interest in writing music for children and amateur performers, and was an outstanding pianist and conductor.
Britten was also responsible, together with Pears and the librettist/producer Eric Crozier, for the founding of the Aldeburgh Festival, and the creation of Snape Maltings Concert Hall.
Britten was the first composer to be given a life peerage.