Britten’s Op 47, Five Flower Songs: Breaking Trends in Analysis

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Benjamin Britten’s life and music have been the subject of study from early in his musical career. Current trends in psychological analysis of Britten’s music tend to focus on common themes, such as homosexuality, pacifism, the sense of the outsider, and the loss of innocence. Similarly, theoretical analyses tend either to provide general categorizations of the technical elements in Britten’s music or to apply a singular preconceived concept as a tool for understanding his compositions. These approaches have yielded significant information but leave aspects of Britten’s personality and music unilluminated. Britten’s Op. 47, Five Flower Songs, are a collection of ... continued below

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Jackson, Christopher Michael August 2013.

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  • Jackson, Christopher Michael

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Benjamin Britten’s life and music have been the subject of study from early in his musical career. Current trends in psychological analysis of Britten’s music tend to focus on common themes, such as homosexuality, pacifism, the sense of the outsider, and the loss of innocence. Similarly, theoretical analyses tend either to provide general categorizations of the technical elements in Britten’s music or to apply a singular preconceived concept as a tool for understanding his compositions. These approaches have yielded significant information but leave aspects of Britten’s personality and music unilluminated. Britten’s Op. 47, Five Flower Songs, are a collection of five part songs for a cappella chorus that are often included within the canon of 20th century choral literature. This paper examines a new perspective on Britten’s music by examining the relationship between Britten’s friendships and their influence on his compositions. Through the examination of these relationships information is revealed that allows for a new method of analysis that is particularly relevant to the Five Flower Songs. The opus was dedicated to two botanists for the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary. Contained within specific movements are extra-musical references to scientific characteristics of the flowers that are the subjects of the texts. By examining this work and important connections between other friendships and his compositional output this paper demonstrates the validity of this perspective in analyzing Britten’s life and music.

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  • August 2013

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  • March 8, 2015, 5:44 p.m.

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  • Nov. 16, 2016, 1:08 p.m.

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Jackson, Christopher Michael. Britten’s Op 47, Five Flower Songs: Breaking Trends in Analysis, dissertation, August 2013; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc500181/: accessed May 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .