2 pp. Octavo (ca. 176 x 137 mm). Dated July 6, 1950. In ink on stationery with "4 Crabbe St. Aldeburgh, Suffolk" printed at head.
Britten warmly thanks "Tony" for writing an overture for the Aldeburgh Festival, which Britten, Peter Pears, and Eric Crozier had founded in 1948. He apologizes for not writing sooner, and for not spending more time with Hopkins and his wife, Alison, during the Festival.
"... [the Overture] made an extremely brilliant effect, and was a perfect opening piece for what, I think, turned out to be a nice concert. I especially admired the restraint & skill in writing for the small body of performers. The performance seemed fine – I hope you were pleased... I was sorry not to see more of you & Alison – but the whole social business of the week gets a bit out of hand... Thank you again for your kindness, promptness & skill in writing the overture."
Slightly worn and soiled; creased at fold and slightly overall; minor foxing to small area of verso.
Hopkins's Festival Overture was first performed at the Aldeburgh Festival on June 24, 1950, in Aldeburgh Parish Church, conducted by the composer. Of the work, Hopkins writes: "Judge of my surprise when I received a letter from Benjamin Britten asking me to write a short Festival Overture for the then comparatively new Aldeburgh Festival. It was to be for a tiny band – just 11 strings and 2 trumpets. I had earlier dedicated my first opera to Britten and this may have been a kindly reciprocal gesture. I duly wrote this piece and tried to finish it triumphantly, despite the small resources. My 'triumph' was received in total silence – I had forgotten that the performance was given in the local church, and in those days applause wasn't allow in churches. Surely the angels wouldn't mind? Anyway, to this day, it was the biggest anti-climax of my life, and I slunk out of the building a broken spirit." Goodmusic Publishers. After its first publication, the Festival Overture was re-named the Aldeburgh Festival Suite.
"[Britten] and his contemporary Michael Tippett are among several pairs of composers who dominated English art music in the 20th century. Of their music, Britten’s early on achieved, and has maintained, wider international circulation." Philip Brett et al. in Grove Music Online. Item #27041
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