Benjamin Britten (1913-76) was the greatest English composer of his time, and the first of his generation to enjoy a wide international reputation. With the great success of Peter Grimes (1945) he effectively reinvented English opera and was a pioneer of music for film and radio. For much of his life, however, British critics dismissed his music merely as 'clever'. Hounded by malicious gossip, the details of his private life were fascinating: the author explores with
sophistication the complex ways in which his sexuality and his political and social convictions directly or indirectly inspired much of his art.
In this masterly biography, Michael Oliver creates a portrait of a great artist and discusses the contradictions between his quintessential English character and his world stature, his outsider status and his membership of the establishment, his artistic daring and his constant regard for musical forms and traditions.