Benjamin Britten’s place in cultural history is to be affirmed with probably the widest ever celebration of a British composer. The Britten-Pears foundation is investing £6.5 million to mark his centenary in 2013 across the world, justifying cellist Rostropovich’s remark to Britten on his 50th birthday: ‘When you and I are no longer here, millions of ordinary people will still be celebrating your birthdays.’

In the UK, all 14 of Britten’s major operas will be performed, including a new staging of Gloriana at the Royal Opera House, almost 60 years to the day it was first performed for the Coronation, plus Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh beach in Suffolk. ‘Friday Afternoons’ culminates on Britten’s birthday, November 22, 2013, when thousands of young people will sing the song cycle he wrote for his headmaster brother’s Prestatyn school.

Penguin will publish Benjamin Britten by Paul Kildea, the first major biography for 20 years; EMI is releasing new recordings of The Rape of Lucretia and songs with tenor Ian Bostridge; and the films Night Mail and Coal Face, made with W. H. Auden, will be shown. There will be a new building at The Red House, Britten’s home in Aldeburgh, and a 50p coin bearing his bust will be issued.

For more details, visit www.britten100.org

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  • Darren

    50th Birthday? Are you sure about that. Not many centenaries that only celebrate 50 years that I can think of 😉