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Benjamin Britten

Britten Sinfonietta op 1, Edinburgh Festival 1964

1964. Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Part of a concert given by the Scottish National Orchestra under Alexander Gibson at the 1964 Edinburgh Festival
Composer Benjamin Britten
Conductor Sir Alexander Gibson
Ensemble Scottish National Orchestra
Genre Symphonic concert

Britten’s Sinfonietta was composed in June and July 1932, when he was 18 and studying at the Royal College of Music under John Ireland.  It was first performed in 1933 at the Ballet Club, conducted by Iris Lemare. It  was published as his Op 1 by Erwin Stein.

Stein has drawn attention to the influence of Schoenberg, and particularly his Chamber Symphony, on this work.  Britten wanted to travel to Vienna to study with Alban Berg, but was prevented from doing so by Ireland and the RCM, who were hostile to the Viennese Second School.  However, Britten’s mentor and composition teacher Frank Bridge was much more open to its influence and encouraged Britten’s interest.

The work is remarkably assured for such an early work and displays his skill at writing naturally for a range of instruments.

Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976)

Sinfonietta, op 1

Track 1:

Poco presto ed agitato

Track 2:



This recording is from the relay of a concert given at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on 29 August 1964.

The recording is in the Harewood Collection at Music Preserved.

  • Scottish National Orchestra
  • Sir Alexander Gibson

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