PETER PEARS's reputation as an outstanding and distinctive tenor is grounded in his interpretations of Benjamin Britten's works; their partnership of thirty years significantly shaped and defined musical developments not only in England but on a broader plane. Throughout their busy professional lives they travelled extensively, on concert tours and on holiday, finding fresh stimulus in change. Pear's twelve travel diaries, brought together in this volume, record much of that travel and provide valuable contextual material on the musical development of both Pears and Britten.
The first diary dates from 1936, the year before his friendship with Britten began, when he went on tour to North America with the New English Singers. Other diaries record the five-month tour to the Far East and the important encounters (especially for Britten) with the gamelan music of Bali and the Japanese Noh theatre; visits to Russia as guests of Mstislav Rostropovich and his wife Galina Vishnevskaya, where they met significant figures from Russian musical life; and attendance at the Ansbach Bach Festival when Pears was at the height of his career. Also recorded are holidays in the Caribbean and Italy, a concert tour through the north of England, and accounts of the rehearsals and performances of the New York premieres of Billy Budd and Death in Venice.