‘In the history of art late works are the catastrophes,’ proposed Theodor Adorno. In this illustrated lecture Paul Kildea, author of the first major biography of Benjamin Britten in twenty years, disputes the narrative of decline that has engulfed Britten’s music since the early 1970s.
The ‘catastrophe’ in Britten’s music was not its quality, but how little traction it has had in the past forty years. Kildea unpicks Britten’s precarious health and shows how it made him more determined than ever to write down the music that was on his mind. He discusses key late works – including Death in Venice, Phaedre, the String Quartet No. 3 – and how Britten saw them as a way of finishing old business and charting new territory. In this lecture, as in the previous two, Kildea looks at the personal and emotional insecurities that helped shape the twentieth century’s consummate musician.
This is the third in a series of three lectures in which conductor Paul Kildea, author of a major new biography of composer Benjamin Britten, explores the life and music of this colossal twentieth-century artist.
The conductor and author, Paul Kildea, was born in Australia. He studied piano and musicology at The University of Melbourne and holds a doctorate from Oxford University. His 1997 Opera Australia debut conducting Janácek’s A Cunning Little Vixen led to his appointment as Simone Young’s assistant. Since then he has conducted many of the great artists of today in opera houses and concert halls throughout Europe and Australia.
He has written and broadcast extensively on music and culture in the twentieth century, recently as a contributor to The Proms: A New History (2007) and An Aldeburgh Anthology (2009). Oxford University Press published his two critically acclaimed books on Britten: Selling Britten (2002) and Britten on Music (2003, and pbk 2008). He is currently writing a biography of the composer for Penguin Press.
Paul Kildea is a former Artistic Director of Wigmore Hall, London, and now lives in Berlin.
Mark Milhofer was a choral scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, studied at the Guildhall School of Music in London and the As.Li.Co. opera studio in Milan. He made his debut for the Teatro Regio in Parma in La Cenerentola launching his international career.Further significant appearances include Il Matrimonio Segreto, Billy Budd, Cosi fan tutte, The Magician in Menotti's The Consul, Il Turco in Italia, The Madwoman in Curlew River, Die Entfuhrung, Don Pasquale, La Gazza Ladra, The Turn of the Screw, La Scala di Seta, La Rondine. World premières include Marcello Panni's The Banquet, Marco Tutino's Federico II and Alessandro Solbiati’s Leggenda.