Britten's town rejects statue

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The Independent Online
Councillors last night finally put paid to the idea of a statue in honour of the composer Benjamin Britten.

Aldeburgh Town Council had been asked by Suffolk Coastal District Council to consider erecting a statue of Britten - who lived and composed in the town for 30 years - "in a quiet area" of Aldeburgh Cemetery, where Britten is buried.

But last night the town council said it would prefer to simply have seats placed in the "quiet area of the cemetery", in order to create a spot where people could sit and meditate.

They argued that Britten had been remembered in several official ways by Aldeburgh, including a plaque and a church window. His old house is also used as a library.

The council had decided last month that it did not want a statue erected in the cemetery, but the decision met with widespread criticism.

Four of the world's leading conductors, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Georg Solti, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky and Mstislav Rostropovich wrote to the Times criticising the move.

Britten, who died in 1976, put the name of Aldeburgh on the musical map by co-founding theannual Aldeburgh Festival of music. He also adopted the town's name as his own when he was made a life peer in 1976.

Britten's reputation came under fire recently, when the Master of the Queen's Music, Malcolm Williamson, described his music as "ephemeral" and predicted that it "will not last".

Dr Williamson's views shocked the Britten-Pears Foundation, which was set up to run Britten's estate after his death.

Donald Mitchell, one of the trustees, said Dr Williamson's assessment of Britten's music was "eccentric". Mr Mitchell was backed by Alexander Goehr, Professor of Music at Cambridge University. He said: "I can't claim to admire every single piece, but on the other hand there are a considerable number of works which have grown in stature ... and some are masterpieces".