Benjamin Britten: “Many of the great things in the world have come from the outsider”
The most influential composer ever to draw English breath, Benjamin Britten did more for music in three active decades than all of London’s musicians in three centuries.
… “So many of the great things in the world have come from the outsider,” he reflected, “and that lone dog isn’t always attractive.” Like J.K. Rowling (and Mozart, perhaps), he was doomed to live out the greater part of his life under the burden of early success. Britten’s added tragedy is that he always craved an acceptance he could never achieve. To offset that despair, he decided to improve the state of music, and royally succeeded.
Benjamin Britten converted the former “land without music” into a powerhouse of innovation and enterprise whose musicians stand tall in the world, free of his shadow. He deserves to be embraced in his centenary year with universal gratitude and warmth, uncomplicated by any moral quirks and shortcomings. Great as much of his music is, the man has proved himself greater still.
– Norman Lebrecht, “Glorious Legacy of a Crabby Loner,” Standpoint, November 2012