Talk:Peter Pears

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Themes of Pears roles' in Britten's operas[edit]

A couple of times, people have deleted descriptions of Pears' roles in Britten's operas as including pedophilia or violence toward young men. Well, this page needs more detail and better sources, but there is considerable critical writing about the fact that the common theme of the destruction of innocence (violent, sexual, or both) runs through most of the roles Britten wrote for Pears (in which Pears often took a hand in shaping the libretto). This is amply documented in the biography by Humphrey Carpenter, the critical study by Peter Evans, and other books.

It's true that the discussion of Pears' career needs to be better referenced. However, there is no reason to repeatedly bowdlerize the article of reference to the dark subject matter of Britten's and Pears' collaboration--it's not OR or a smear on their characters, it's the critical consensus.

Dybryd 08:09, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

Removal of assertions about two of Pear's roles[edit]

I have again deleted the references to pedophilia. First there is no evidence that Pears had a hand in the libretto of Death in Venice or Turn of the Screw. If you know of any evidence then please cite it exactly with page references. Secondly I think it is simplistic to describe Quint or Aschenbach as pedophiles. Both these characters are drawn with great subtelty and complexity. There may be a case to assert that Quint abuses Miles but the sexual side is more hinted at than explicit and your bald assertions may mislead those who do not know the work to have a quite distorted view of the work. Quint exercises enormous power over those in the house. Surely turn of the screw is as much about power and responisbility as anything else. To characterise pedophilia simply as an exercise of power or to characterise any exercise of power as ultimately abusive is absurdly reductionist. Thirdly I have difficulty in seeing the pedophilia in Death in Venice. Pedophilia is more properly a description of abusive relationships between an adult and a child (and usually we are considering prepubescent children.) In death in Venice such a relationship does not exist. I think that maybe the Visconti has a lot to answer for!

To characterise the corruption of innocence as being the same as pedophilia is also reductionist. In pedophilia innocence ( aloaded term anyway ) may be corrupted but it is not the same. Surely you would not characterise Billy Budd's relationship with Claggart as pedophilic?

The assertions that you make need to be expressed with greater nuance. I consider that the proper place for comments about the roles in Britten's operas should be on the relevant page deleaing with Britten's operas not here where it adds little and confuses the neophyte.

You're right that it's sloppy to put stuff in without references. Dybryd 19:57, 6 November 2006 (UTC)


Shouldn't there be something here mentioning the nature of the Britten/Pears relationship? I feel this is similar to the Britten page, in that it does not make their homosexuality clear. Can something be done about this?

Removal of comments regarding Schubert singing[edit]

The comments implied that there had been a general critical re-assessment of Pear's Schubert singing since his death, but this cannot be justified by simply quoting the extremely controversial views of Norman Lebrecht. The article already contains sufficent comments regarding the "controversial" quality of Pears voice.

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one article was rated and this bot brought all the other ratings up to at least that level. BetacommandBot 01:58, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Roles written specifically for Pears[edit]

This is such a short list. Pears premiered many other tenor roles, such as the Spring Symphony, War Requiem, and Cantata Academica. Is there a criterion for "written specifically" beyond Pears' premiering the role? Also male chorus in Rape of Lucretia! C. Cerf (talk) 21:20, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

Why did Pears go to the US?[edit]

Tim Riley's done a great job in working through this article. The only lingering question I have at the end is whether we should state the known reasons why Pears went with Britten to the US: e.g. was there a professional reason? Not having Headington's biography, I don't know whether this sheds more light on this issue. Alfietucker (talk) 21:39, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

In fact PP been there before as a member of a small choral group, but in the scheme of things it didn't seem to me to merit mention. As to the trip with BB, Pears was, as he acknowledged, there as Britten's "esquire". BB had been offered a job writing a Hollywood score (aborted), but PP had no work lined up before they went. Tim riley (talk) 21:52, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Ok, I've tweaked the copy to reflect this - as it was, it left me wondering whether there was another reason why Pears went with Britten, since according to the article they did not consummate their relationship until they were in the States (or at least that's how it reads). Alfietucker (talk) 22:04, 16 October 2013 (UTC)


This article is broad in its coverage, has an adequte WP:LEAD section and generally good prose. It is well referenced and has illustrations. I have assessed it at B-class. -- Ssilvers (talk) 05:43, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

Clytie Hine Mundy[edit]

I've written an article on Clytie Hine, Pears' vocal coach in New York, who was quite influential in helping him find his true voice. She remained part of the Britten-Pears circle thereafter, and they even named their pet dachsund after her.

We should mention her here and at BB's page, but I'm unsure how much detail to put in. Suggestions welcome. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 01:47, 27 June 2014 (UTC)

An excellent article - well done! I'm not sure that we necessarily need mention Clytie Hine in BB's page, but certainly there should be a paragraph at the very least in Peter Pears. Do you have details as to how she worked on Pears's technique? Alfietucker (talk) 06:43, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
Strangely, Mundy gets only two fleeting mentions in Christopher Headington's biography of Pears, on pp. 98 and 153. This makes me a bit wary of adding more than a sentence on her to the Pears article, and I agree with Alfie that we needn't drag her into the Britten article. As to Pears, the only thing of substance about her in Headington's book is a quote from PP: she "was a fine teacher of singing in New York and had a lot of excellent pupils ... she worked with me quite a lot on the voice, and I learned a lot from her and loved working with her ... a wonderful woman to work with, very sympathetic and forthright." Tim riley talk 07:51, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
I would add Britten's comment to a friend about Pears's improvement with Mundy (in a letter of 24 February 1941): "He's changed his teacher much for the better I think, & is already showing signs of improvement." (from Letters from a Life, Vol. 2, p. 906). I've had no success so far in finding any info about the technique she worked on with Pears, but I think these endorsements from Britten and Pears (who wrote an obituary about his former teacher for The Times, published 12 August 1983) give some measure of her importance in transforming Pears, hitherto an ensemble voice, into a good singer able to sustain a solo career. That said, I take Tim's point that perhaps just a sentence or two might be justifiable (or perhaps a short paragraph) given the quantity of sources. Alfietucker (talk) 08:10, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the compliment, Alfie. Mundy herself claimed to have no "method" as such. From here:
  • Pears began studying with German contralto Teresa Behr (1876-1959), wife of pianist Artur Schnabel, in February 1940, traveling between Long Island and New York City for weekly lessons. In March, Britten wrote in a letter, Peter is terribly pleased with her, finds her charming and extremely good (if severe) teacher. The improvement in his voice after only a month is quite staggering. It is much clearer, more resonant, and much more controlled.
  • ...
  • Even though he stayed with Behr for less than a year, he certainly gained from the background of his teacher. Something about Behr's method did not work for Pears, however. He said,I remember doing a Bach concert with [Otto] Klemperer in New York and singing the taxing part in O Ewigkeit, du Sonnerwort [Bach, Cantata # 60] her way, and knew it was wrong. So I went to another teacher, Clytie Hine Mundy … I found her very helpful and sound in her advice. The performance of the Bach Cantata occurred on November 27, 1940, and before the end of the year, Pears went to Mundy. She was born in Australia and studied music at the Royal College of Music in London and later became a leading member of Thomas Beecham's Opera Company. Pears said about Mundy in 1985 that she "was a fine teacher of singing in New York and had a lot of excellent pupils … she worked with me quite a lot on the voice, and I learned a lot from her and loved working with her." In a 1974 interview Mundy remembered her first encounter with Pears,
  • I asked to hear Peter sing. He started in on Il mio tesoro, and I was not too impressed with his technique. My husband … said, Young man, you will never be a Caruso, but with your potential you will be a great artist and have a wonderful career. But you have to be better trained.. At the end I said, Well, if you want to, I would be happy to work with you and see what we could do.. You see I had no - what is commonly called - method. Just a few exercises that never changed. And then I would try to approach the problems of each individual singer: with Peter it was almost entirely a matter of voice production, because basically, he had a wonderfully lyric quality.
  • Pears studied with Mundy almost daily throughout the remainder of his time in America, and Britten would usually come to the lessons to accompany. In addition to lessons in vocal technique, Pears also had the benefit of his teacher's friends in the music world, including Giorgio Polacco, the then-Metropolitan Opera conductor, who would come to the Mundy house to give coaching sessions to her students.
Does that answer your question? -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 09:45, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
I think that does - particularly Mundy's sentence "with Peter it was almost entirely a matter of voice production, because basically, he had a wonderfully lyric quality": which, I suggest, could be rendered something like, 'Mundy recalled later that Pears "basically...had a wonderfully lyric quality", and her main task was to improve his voice production.' Btw, the fact Mundy did not have a "method" - as I understand it (from personal experience of studying under singing teachers) - does not mean she somehow muddled through in teaching, but that she was aware enough of the different qualities and physical attributes of her students not to have a one-size-fits-all approach (e.g. some teachers insist you should sing into a "mask", which is a concept which arguably only tenuously relates to the actual physical process of singing). Alfietucker (talk) 10:18, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
Also, the Britten-Pears Foundation says that he "derived especial benefit" from his time with Clytie. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 09:51, 27 June 2014 (UTC)