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Friday Afternoons; Continuing a Grand Tradition

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The NLS Music Section recently acquired a braille transcription of Benjamin Britten’s Friday Afternoons. The songs in this collection are available both in hard copy and for download from BARD, for anyone who is performing them or otherwise interested in this music.  The music is scored for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass choral parts.  A piano accompaniment will be added later.

2013 was the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten, a popular British composer of the twentieth century, and his music continues to be performed and loved.

Britten’s musical education included training in the English choral tradition, and he began composing at a very young age.  Among the works in his youth was a series of twelve songs for the Clive School House, Prestatyn, where his brother Robert was headmaster.  They are simple, fun, and mostly in unison, titled Friday Afternoons, the day and time when rehearsals took place.


Photo of Benjamin Britten conducting, half-length portrait, facing right

In last year’s centennial anniversary of his birth, Friday Afternoons was a project dedicated to the memory of Benjamin Britten.  The composer established the Aldeburgh Festival in 1948 along with tenor Peter Pears.  Rather than continuing expensive tours with opera companies, Britten and Pears set up the festival in Suffolk, near a house Britten had purchased and (these now established) operas and vocal works in the twentieth century repertoire were premiered.

Showcasing the British tradition of fine choral singing, a website of submitted performances by selected school choirs is available for viewing, along with live performances at Aldeburgh throughout the year.  The festival culminated on the actual birth date of Britten, one of the British Isles most revered composers, on November 22, 2013. It included thousands of young people uniting in song to honor this venerated 20th century composer. 

Click here and join the continuing celebration of his music, and especially on Friday Afternoons.

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