An Introduction to the Library

Transcript: This beautiful and atmospheric Library was used by Britten and Pears for rehearsing, socialising and for storing their increasingly large collection of books. The shelves are full of music scores, art books and an eclectic range of other works, both fiction and non-fiction. It was also necessary to have a room as large as this to house the concert grand Steinway piano: this model was purchased in 1969, and there is some more information about it on a panel on the piano itself. Like the house, there is a great deal of art on the walls. Some of it was here in Britten and Pears’ time, such as the William Blake painting St Paul Shaking off the Viper at the opposite end of the room to the piano. But we also use the room now to display part of the extensive Red House collection. This year, we are featuring portraits of Peter Pears, and there is some more information about those on the printed guide in the room itself. Do take some time to look around the room – and you can find out more about the art and objects from the printed guide.

One of the most famous occasions to have taken place in this Library is the first run-through of Britten’s Third String Quartet by the Amadeus Quartet in September 1976, only two months before Britten died. Here is a short extract from that hauntingly beautiful work.

Red House Recitals

Transcript: Today, the Library is open to visitors and during normal opening hours there are regular recitals. Over the years, a number of brilliant young artists have performed in this space. What follows is a short extract of a recital from 2018 featuring the mezzo-soprano Marta Fontanals-Simmons and pianist Lana Bode, performing ‘La Chevelure’, a song by Claude Debussy.


‘La Chevelure’ by Claude Debussy performed by Marta Fontanals-Simmons and Lana Bode

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