On This Gay Day: Benjamin Britten was born in 1913

Composer Benjamin Britten was born on this day in 1913

English composer Benjamin Britten was born on this day in 1913. A central figure in music in the 20th century he composed well known operas, orchestral and vocal music. He is best known for the opera Peter Grimes, War Requiem and The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. 

Born in Lowestoft, Suffolk, Britten was the son of a dentist and he showed a talent for music from an early age. He studied at the Royal College of Music and privately with the composer Frank Bridge.

He garnered attention with his 1934 composition A Boy is Born. The choral work sets a variety of religious based texts to music and was scored as a cappella for a boy’s choir. HIs 1945 opera Peter Grimes made him world famous.

Over the next 28 years he wrote 14 more operas, making him one of the most prolific composers of opera in the 20th century. Alongside large scale works he also wrote smaller pieces designed for smaller venues and companies. He often wrote works with particular singers in mind, many of his works were written specifically for his partner, the tenor Peter Pears.

Prior to his death Britten was given a peerage becoming Baron Britten of Aldeburgh in June 1976. He passed away in December of the same year from congestive heart failure.

Listen to Lawrence Power play Britten’s Elegy for a Solo Viola. 

Billie Jean King is also celebrating a birthday

Tennis champion Billie-Jean King (nee Moffitt) was born on this day in 1943. A former World Number 1 she won 39 Grand Slam titles during her long career.

Regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time she was named Time magazine’s person of the year in 1975. King has been a long standing advocate for gender equality and social justice.

In 1973 she took part in a series of tennis matches dubbed the Battle of the Sexes which saw male and female tennis players take each other on. King beat her male counterpart Bobby Riggs, it’s seen as a defining moment in the acceptance of women’s sport. In was dramatised in the 2017 film Battle of the Sexes starring Emma Stone and Steve Carrell.

King married her husband Larry in 1965. In the early 1980’s King acknowledged she’d been in a relationship with her secretary for many years, when she was the subject of a palimony lawsuit. She remained married to her husband for several more years, but the couple divorced in 1987 when she fell in love with her doubles partner Ilana Kloss.

King and Kloss were married in 2017.

OIP Staff

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