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Benjamin Britten / Lennox Berkeley Composer

Mont Juic, suite of Catalan dances for orchestra

Performances: 1
Tracks: 4
Musicology (work in progress):
  • Mont Juic, suite of Catalan dances for orchestra
    Year: 1937
    • 1.Andante maestoso (Berkeley, Op.9, No.1)
    • 2.Allegro grazioso (Berkeley, Op.9, No.2)
    • 3.Lament: Andante moderato (Britten, Op.12, No.1)
    • 4.Allegro molto (Britten, Op.12, No.2)
Not unexpectedly, Britten was on the anti-Fascist side, politically, of the Spanish Civil War. While in Barcelona he met for the first time fellow British composer Lennox Berkeley. The result of this meeting is this attractive setting of dance tunes from Catalonia, the north-eastern region of Spain which possesses its own language and considers Barcelona it capital. Catalonia, and Barcelona in particular, was a center of resistance to the struggle against the establishment of the dictatorship under Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Britten and Berkeley no doubt intended their jointly written suite, besides being an attractive travel portrait, to constitute a "homage to Catalonia" in role, as well (to borrow the title of the book written by George Orwell, yet another Englishman who was on the scene). Reference to the war is clearly made in the third movement "Lament," in which a dirge-like tune predominates, never quite disappearing when a central section based on a much happier dance movement appears.

Neither composer ever officially stated who wrote what, other than saying that both contributed two movements and implying that there was some work done by both on all four. But Berkeley is reported to have acknowledged authorship of the first and second, and this hearsay statement is given circumstantial support by the musical material of the third, which has Britten's musical fingerprints all over it. (By the way, examination of the manuscript of the work does not shed light on their respective contributions, as Britten himself drafted the score submitted for publication in his own clear hand.)

Incidentally, the work bears two opus numbers, a different one for the respective catalogues of the two participating composers.

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