Benjamin Britten's Creative Relationship with Russia

Pyke, Cameron. 2011. Benjamin Britten's Creative Relationship with Russia. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis considers Britten’s creative relationship with Russia, in the sense of aspects of Russian culture and politics, across his creative life. It makes particular use of the composer’s collection of scores, the full text of his diaries from 1928 to 1938 and his correspondence in the Britten-Pears Library, Aldeburgh. The author has also conducted over twenty interviews with those with a perspective on this aspect of Britten’s creative sensibility, some of which are included as appendices, and carried out two research visits to Russia and Armenia. Particular attention is given to Britten’s lifelong admiration for Tchaikovsky and to his creative relationship with Shostakovich. The latter is considered both in the 1930s and the 1960s by means of Britten’s diaries, the correspondence between the two composers, Shostakovich’s collection of Britten scores, and a series of articles about Britten published in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. An attempt is made to consider the relationship between Britten’s and Shostakovich’s vocal and instrumental works during this latter period, with particular reference firstly, to the influence of Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya and secondly, to the topic of death. Finally, the thesis considers Britten’s creative relationship with Russia as an integrated phenomenon and explores some of the ambiguities inherent in Britten’s response and the wider question of Russian influence on his music.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


benjamin britten, music, russia, relationship, creative

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Date Deposited:

17 Feb 2012 17:34

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:24


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