Re­com­pos­ing the

Ben­jamin Brit­ten: A Life in the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - John Car­mody

By Paul Kildea Allen Lane, 688pp, $45 (HB)

WHEN I at­tend a con­cert, an opera or a play I love, I make a men­tal pact with the per­form­ers to com­pel me to see the piece afresh. The same is­sue arises, surely, for any­one who reads a sec­ond bi­og­ra­phy, es­pe­cially of a prom­i­nent fig­ure in our in­tel­lec­tual or cul­tural life.

So much has been writ­ten about Ben­jamin Brit­ten (1913-76) that Paul Kildea, an Aus­tralian mu­si­cian who is an au­thor­ity on the Bri­tish com­poser, faced a great chal­lenge with this cen­ten­nial book, es­pe­cially from Humphrey Car­pen­ter’s equally large and thor­ough bi­og­ra­phy of 1992.

And it was not

just a ques­tion of comp-

it was

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