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Benjamin Britten

After Henry Purcell's death in 1695, English classical music fell behind the rest of Europe in music history. The island state's next internationally acclaimed composer was Edward Benjamin Britten, born in 1913. His talent was recognized early by his parents and the young Benjamin received his musical education from the composer Frank Bridge. After graduating from the Royal College of Music, Britten wrote incidental music for documentaries, where, due to the small budget, he learned how to combine a small number of instruments to create a colorful, rich sound. He soon became recognized as the most important British composer of his generation. Amongst his professional connections, the tenor Peter Pears was the most important. He not only inspired many of Britten's compositions but was also his closest confidante and life partner. It is no surprise that vocal works - operas, song cycles and choral works - have a special place in his oeuvre. He and Pears gave recitals together as pianists and they founded and directed the Aldeburgh Festival. Britten fled the war to America in 1939 and did not return until 1942. He suffered a stroke in 1971 but continued to compose - albeit at a slower pace - until his death in 1976. His most famous works are the Peter Grimes, a Serenade for tenor, horn and strings, the War Requiem and The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.