Piano Concerto (Britten)

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Benjamin Britten's Piano Concerto, Op. 13, is the composer's sole piano concerto.


The piece was written in 1938 and then revised in 1945, including the replacement of the third movement. This was Britten's first work for piano and orchestra, which he premiered as soloist at a Promenade Concert in 1938. Dedicated to the composer Lennox Berkeley, the concerto is a 'bravura' work that has gained more international attention in recent years.[1] Britten described the piece as "simple and in direct form".[2]

The revised version premiered at the Cheltenham Festival on July 2, 1946. The London premiere was performed soon after at the Proms in Royal Albert Hall with Noel Mewton-Wood as the soloist performing with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Basil Cameron.[3]

The most well-known and widely considered definitive recording of the concerto is with the English Chamber Orchestra featuring Sviatoslav Richter as the soloist with Britten conducting, from a 1970 performance at the Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, near Britten's own home.[2]

Boosey & Hawkes publish the score of the concerto and estimate that it is 33 minutes in length.


The work is scored for 2 flutes (both doubling piccolo), 2 oboes (II doubling English horn), 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, timpani, glockenspiel, cymbals, whip, bass drum, snare drum, tambourine, tenor drum, harp, and strings.[1]


The concerto is in four movements:

  1. Toccata: Allegro molto e con brio
  2. Waltz: Allegretto
  3. Impromptu: Andante lento
  4. March: Allegro moderato sempre a la marcia

Originally the third movement was a Recitative and Aria.

Selected recordings[edit]

Album Soloist Conductor Orchestra
Britten Piano Concerto and Violin Concerto Sviatoslav Richter Benjamin Britten English Chamber Orchestra
Britten Piano Concerto and Johnson over Jordan (Suite) Joanna MacGregor Steuart Bedford English Chamber Orchestra


  1. ^ a b Boosey and Hawkes website, cc 2012 Boosey and Hawkes, an Imagem company.
  2. ^ a b Music Web International, Michael Cookson.
  3. ^ Mitchell, Donald; et al. (2004). Letters from a life: the selected letters and diaries of Benjamin Britten. University of California Press. p. 161. ISBN 0-520-24259-9.