Entertainment & Arts

BBC to mark Britten centenary with year of programmes

Benjamin Britten
Image caption Britten, who died in 1976, was one of the 20th Century's most respected composers

The BBC is to celebrate the centenary of Benjamin Britten's birth with a year of performances and programming.

The composer, who was born in 1913, wrote such operas as Peter Grimes and Billy Budd. His other works include The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.

All of his operas will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3, while a remastered version of Owen Wingrave, his opera for television, will be shown on BBC Four.

Meanwhile, the Royal Mint will design a new 50 pence coin for the centenary.

"This will literally put Britten in the hands and pockets of every person in this country," said Richard Jarman, director of the Britten-Pears Foundation.

The foundation is behind Britten 100 - a global celebration of the composer's centenary - which was announced at the Royal College of Music on Tuesday.

Fourteen of his major operas will be performed in the UK, by a mix of professional and amateur companies.

Peter Grimes will be staged on the beach at Aldeburgh - the town on the Suffolk coast where he lived most of his life.

A new production of Britten's Gloriana will be performed at the Royal Opera House, while the Birmingham Royal Ballet will collaborate with the National Ballet of Japan on The Prince of the Pagodas.

Meanwhile, Opera North will produce four of his operas.

A year-long project will encourage 75,000 children to sing, culminating in a performance on 22 November 2013 - the day that would have been Britten's 100th birthday.

Sky Arts will broadcast a documentary called Nocturne, which it said explores Britten's "uneasy relationship with the wider world", while the British Film Institute will present a season of films and TV programmes about the composer.

The BBC's plans also include the broadcast of several rare archive interviews, new musical commissions and special Proms concerts.

Radio 3 controller Roger Wright said Britten was "a significant part of the UK's classical music history" whose work had "inspired composers, performers and audiences alike".

BBC Four controller Richard Klein said the station was "proud to broadcast some of his classic works alongside rare and illuminating archive interviews".

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