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Ten Pieces - Benjamin Britten
I wonder why we have an image of a teacup?

Ten Pieces - Benjamin Britten

This KS2 Music quiz is inspired by the BBC Ten Pieces which you can find at BBC Bitesize. It takes a look at the life and works of the British composer, Benjamin Britten.

Benjamin Britten: almost beyond doubt the greatest British composer of the 20th century, and with a name to match. He very much enjoyed writing music for children and amateur performers. He was a pianist and played lots of his own pieces in concert and on record.

Did you know that on Aldeburgh beach there is a sculpture titled Scallop (it looks like a huge scallop!) which is dedicated to Benjamin Britten? Aldeburgh is a town in Suffolk, so if you are near there or visiting, you might want to check it out.

How much do you know about Benjamin Britten? Take this quiz and see if you can get full marks.

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1.
At time of writing this quiz (spring 2015) we have fairly recently marked the centenary of Britten's birth. In what year was he born?
1912
1913
1914
1915
The First World War began a few weeks before he reached his first birthday.
2.
In the spring of 1942, Britten returned to the UK (!) from America by ship across an Atlantic teeming with U-boats. To pass the time usefully (even amid the noises aboard) he composed A Ceremony of Carols for 3-part boys' choir, accompanied by which instrument?
Organ
Piano
Guitar
Harp
... And very lovely they are, too. How he could have thought of the joys of Christmas in those circumstances is hard indeed to imagine!
3.
One quite new form of music in Britten's young days was the writing, performance and recording of film-scores. Britten famously wrote the music for a documentary film made by the GPO, with words by the poet WH Auden. What was the film called?
Over the Border
Pillar to Post
Night Mail
The Life of Letters
... Still visible on YouTube, a fascinating & evocative 'curio' now but ground-breaking in its day.
4.
Except when touring abroad, or in London, Britten spent most of his life in the region where he had been born and later settled. Which area of the country was this?
The West Country
The Lake District
The Sussex Downs
East Anglia
He was born at Lowestoft and settled on the Suffolk coast.
5.
Britten defied serious ill-health as a baby and went on to be a keen sportsman ... at which of these games, in particular?
Rowing
Tennis
Running
Football
There are many photographs and diary reminiscences to confirm this.
6.
Britten was a pacifist (i.e. he did not believe in war, though two World Wars were fought during his lifetime). His 'War Requiem' had its first performance in 1962 in a brand-new British cathedral built alongside the ruins of a medieval one which had been bombed-out in an air raid. In which city?
Coventry
Canterbury
Chichester
Chester
This was in Coventry (which had been bombed by the enemy as a city with a lot of car and vehicle factories). The original solo singers in the War Requiem included the famous German baritone, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
7.
Britten loved being with children, and writing and performing music for and with them. He wrote various musical works to be performed by large all-age community groups such as villages and churches, including the story of 'Noyes' Fludde'. For this, children can play the percussion part when the raindrops begin to fall. What do they hit to make this sound?
Coins
Spoons
Teacups
Milk bottles
If you have the chance to take part in this (singing or playing) or see a live performance, this is part of the fun of it!
8.
Which ONE of these modern-classic works for all-age audiences is also by Britten?
Peter and the Wolf
The Carnival of the Animals
The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
Babar the Elephant
Well worth hearing (and watching) online to discover how all those instruments work and combine.
9.
What was the name of Britten's singer partner and companion, who created the first performances of many of Britten's works and opera roles?
Myfanwy Piper
Peter Pears
Charles MacKerras
Julian Bream
All the others were involved in his creative activities at one or another time, but Pears was Britten's lifelong partner.
10.
The exact date of his birth was also important to Britten since it was the feast day of the Patron Saint of music. What is her name?
St Cecilia
St Melodia
St Flautina
St Bella
St Cecilia is the patroness of music.

 

Author:  Ian Miles

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