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By Mervyn Cooke

Benjamin Britten's powerful curiosity within the musical traditions of the some distance East had a far-reaching effect on his compositional type; this e-book explores the hugely unique cross-cultural synthesis he was once capable of in attaining by using fabric borrowed from Balinese, eastern and Indian assets. Britten's stopover at to Indonesia and Japan in 1955-6 is reconstructed from archival assets, and proven to have had a profound effect on his next paintings: the ideas of Balinese gamelin track have been utilized in the ballet "The Prince of the Pagodas" (1957), after which turned an important function of Britten's compositional type, at their such a lot powerful in "Death in Venice" (1973); and the No rama and Gagaku courtroom tune of Japan have been the muse for the trilogy of church parables Britten composed within the Sixties. the perfect nature of those affects is mentioned: Britten's sporadic borrowings fromIndian tune also are totally analyzed. there's a survey of severe reaction to Britten's cross-cultural experiments.

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Extra info for Britten and the Far East: Asian influences in the music of Benjamin Britten, Volume 1

Sample text

Orchestrating Ma mère l'oye as a ballet in 1911, Ravel went one stage further than Debussy by employing a carefully selected percussion group to capture the sonorities of a Far Eastern percussion ensemble more vividly. The combination of xylophone, glockenspiel and celeste, variously supported by cymbal, harp and string pizzicato figurations, so uncannily suggests a gamelan orchestra in 'Laideronette' that it may be supposed that Ravel was also acquainted with the sound of the Conservatoire's gamelan.

The twelve days Britten spent in Japan in February 1956 after his stay in Bali provided him with a very different artistic and cultural experience. With scant previous knowledge of the No * theatre, and apparently none at all of Gagaku (instrumental court music), his experience of these two performing arts led to an involvement so intense that their aesthetic and musical characteristics exerted a strong influence on the subsequent course of his own operatic development. The impact of No led directly to the composition of the first Church Parable, Curlew River (completed in 1964 after an eight-year gestation), a work which embodies an unconventional dramatic aesthetic created from a combination of elements borrowed from the Japanese theatre and from the mediaeval English mystery play.

Quotations from Prince Ludwig of Hesse's travel diary Ausflug Ost (Darmstadt, 1956) are made by kind permission of HRH the late Princess Margaret of Hesse and the Rhine; all translations from the original German are by the author. The quotations from William Plomer's libretto drafts and letters to Britten are included by permission of Sir Rupert Hart-Davis. Extracts from Britten's letters to Roger Duncan appear by kind permission of Mr Duncan. I am especially grateful to Northeastern University Press for permission to re-use in Chapter 1 material from my contribution to Jonathan Bellman's symposium The Exotic in Western Music (Boston, 1998).

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