Some of the material in is restricted to members of the community. By logging in, you may be able to gain additional access to certain collections or items. If you have questions about access or logging in, please use the form on the Contact Page.
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) was among the most important composers of the twentieth century. He is most well-known for his operatic and vocal works but he made significant contributions to instrumental repertoire as well. Many of his works were inspired by performers whom he knew personally and he wrote several pieces for cello as the result of his relationship with the Russian cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich. Britten and Rostropovich met in 1960 and the two struck up an immediate friendship and musical partnership. Britten dedicated seven works for cello to Rostropovich during the last sixteen years of his life. The second of these, the Symphony for Cello, Op. 68 (1963), is the focus of this treatise. The work is neither well known nor widely performed, especially in comparison to Britten’s Sonata for Cello and Piano (Op. 65) and the three Suites for Solo Cello (Opp. 72, 80, and 83). The causes of this neglect might be a lack of understanding of the work on multiple levels. The unusual formal structure of the piece, Britten’s particular musical language, and the technical challenges of the piece present obstacles to an understanding of the work. This treatise seeks to remove these barriers by presenting a formal and motivic analysis of the work, placing it into the compositional and biographical context of Britten’s life, exploring its dual concerto-symphonic nature, and providing performance and practice suggestions for cellists learning the piece. This treatise is intended to help cellists working on the piece and teachers whose students are learning the work.