The world premiere of a piece of work written by composer Benjamin Britten when he was just 13 years old will be performed by students in Birmingham.
Birmingham Conservatoire will perform the tone poem Chaos and Cosmos, which Britten presented to his parents for their wedding anniversary in 1927, at a concert at the Town Hall on June 21.
The performance will be part of the Conservatoire’s five day festival celebrating British composers, which begins on June 17. The piece is one of Britten’s childhood works that has been studied and recorded by students at the Conservatoire to contribute to the Britten Thematic Catalogue, an ongoing project set up by the Britten-Pears Foundation to record all of Britten’s work.
Dr Lucy Walker, director of learning and development at the Britten-Pears Foundation, said: “We always knew of the existence of Chaos and Cosmos (in fact Britten referred to it in a talk he gave in 1946) but it had never been typeset before. It was a complete score rather than a series of sketches— in fact there isn’t even any draft material relating to it.
“Britten seems to have written it straight out; and the typeset score we have made is a direct copy (with perhaps only a few corrections where there were obvious mistakes). That in itself is remarkable: if there was much in the way of sketch material, he would almost definitely have kept it. Britten gave the manuscript score to his parents for their 26th wedding anniversary in 1927.”
All of this has arisen through the work of Michael Harris, the former Conservatoire head of woodwind, and Birmingham Conservatoire students in reviving and recording music Britten composed during his formative years.
Mr Harris said: “This all came about when I was over at the Britten /Pears library working on my own research project, looking at Britten’s conducting scores of Mozart.“Lucy Walker came in with several boxes of manuscripts of early schoolboy orchestral works by Britten and asked if we might be interested in recording excerpts of them with our students in Birmingham. This would be for the on-line thematic catalogue of his work which I think will be up and running sometime this year.”
The Birmingham Conservatoire’s Festival will take place from June 17 until June 21. For more details, contact: 0121 245 4455.