Britten's Unquiet Pasts: Sound and Memory in Postwar by Heather Wiebe

By Heather Wiebe

Reading the intersections among musical tradition and a British undertaking of reconstruction from the Nineteen Forties to the early Sixties, this research asks how gestures towards the earlier negotiated problems with restoration and renewal. within the wake of the second one global warfare, track grew to become a privileged web site for re-enchanting notions of heritage and neighborhood, yet musical recourse to the prior additionally raised problems with mourning and loss. How used to be sound figured as a old item and as a locus of reminiscence and magic? Wiebe addresses this query utilizing a variety of resources, from making plans records to journalism, public ceremonial and literature. Its imperative concentration, notwithstanding, is a collection of works by way of Benjamin Britten that engaged either with the far-off musical previous and with key episodes of postwar reconstruction, together with the competition of england, the Coronation of Elizabeth II and the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral.

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Extra resources for Britten's Unquiet Pasts: Sound and Memory in Postwar Reconstruction

Sample text

But there were other models on hand, in particular a set of literary and theatrical discourses in which music played a powerful role. He could look to the verse drama movement with its appeal to ritual and the sacred past; the documentary movement with its sociological attention to the texture and particularity of English life; and the interest in public occasion and state ceremony that developed as a response to fascist display, influencing the Arts Council’s concept of public art and manifesting in the events and festivals discussed in the following chapters.

These were years, in other words, of intense contact with English literary, religious, and musical tradition, including both elements fairly new to the twentieth-century musical scene – especially Purcell – and the traditions of folksong and church music that had fed English music in the interwar years. Along with these signs of engagement with the English musical past came a commitment to the idea of an English musical culture, one that was connected with real audiences, rooted in ideals of community and traditional public practices, and integrated with everyday life.

Brett, Music and Sexuality, 219. Brett’s description of this turn is on pp. 213–220. This description draws on and refines an earlier discussion of Britten’s engagement with folksong and Purcell (154–171). For another discussion of Britten’s combative relationship with the pastoral school, which influences Brett’s, see Arnold Whittall, “The Signs of Genre: Britten’s Version of the Pastoral,” in Sundry Sorts of Music Books: Essays on the British Library Music Collections, Presented to O. W. Neighbour on His Seventieth Birthday, ed.

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