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Journeying Boy

John Evans

A revealing and intimate collection of diary entries from one of the greatest English composers of the twentieth century.

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Best remembered for his operas and his War Requiem, Benjamin Britten’s radical politics and his sexuality have also ensured that he remains a controversial public figure. Journeying Boy is a selection of his diaries that offer the reader an unseen insight into this complex man.

Encompassing the years 1928-1938, they explore some key periods of Britten’s life – his early compositions, his education first under composer Frank Bridge and then at the Royal College of Music, an unhappy but productive period studying under John Ireland and Ralph Vaughan Williams, and his reluctant and often painful process of parting from the warm, safe environment of his family home and his beloved mother.

The diaries cast light on an often misrepresented musician whose technique, originality and musical prowess have entranced audiences for generations and who continues to inspire composers and musicians around the world.

Critic Reviews

I can think of few other books that have given a more refreshing and enlightening picture of a personality one already thought familiar. Britten's youthful character leaps off every page, and one feels the whole milieu of artistic and musical London in the 1930s. it is just not a self-portrait of the composer as a young man, but a fascinating glimpse at an all-too-brief period of exciting discovery and innovation.

Patrick O'Connor, Literary Review
Critic Reviews

They are revelatory in unexpected ways, even if one is familiar with Humphrey Carpenter's excellent biography ... or the letters that have been painstakingly and brilliantly edited by Donald Mitchell. ... John Evans has done a superb job of editing these diaries ... (they) give us the key to so much that would come later and anyone interested in Britten, or in 20th-century classical music, should not miss them.

Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph
Critic Reviews

Books on classical music are these days as rare as hens' teeth. Indeed, only Faber, with its links to Benjamin Britten, features at least one title per season. And for the true Britten aficionado there's John Evans's Journeying Boy.

Liz Thomson, Music Books of the Year, Independent
Critic Reviews

The year's most important documentary publication ... The diaries offer fascinating insights into his thoughts and musical observations as he enters adulthood - experiencing the loss of his parents, the isolation of his homosexuality and his early success.

Hugh Canning, Books of the Year, Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

While the salacious detail hunter will relish chat about trips to bath houses with Christopher Isherwood or the muted but charming arrival of Peter Pears, the more serious delight is found in charting the development of the musician ... Evans lavishes care and affection on his subject, but never excises some of the more trying elements of the young Britten.

Gavin Plumley, Classical Music

John Evans completed his doctoral studies on Benjamin Britten at the University of Wales in 1984. After five years as Research Scholar at the Britten-Pears Library and Archive he joined BBC Radio 3, becoming the network’s Head of Music in 1993. His publications include Benjamin Britten: Pictures from a Life 1913-1976 and A Britten Source Book. He is currently President…

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