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Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears

Provocative composer Baron Benjamin Britten met tenor Peter Pears in 1934 and the two collaborated professionally for the first time three years later at a concert in London.

They became colleagues, mutual muses and lifelong partners.

Britten was a pacifist and unapologetically gay, factors that limited his fame in his lifetime. But he is now considered one of the greatest composers of the 20th century.

Pears said Britten’s strong ethical center informed all his work.

“I think the key to [Bejmain’s] music lies in his moral point of view combined with his craving for lost innocence brought on by his increasing disillusionment with man.”

Britten turned down a knighthood (Pears accepted), but later became the first composer to receive a life peerage, as Baron Britten. The two are buried side by side at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Suffolk.

The Red House in Aldeburgh, where Britten and Pears lived and worked together from 1957 until Britten’s death 19 years later, is now the home of the Britten-Pears Foundation, established to promote their musical legacy.

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