About the Project

Phase 1 of The Online Edition of Britten’s Performance Annotations has been concerned with Britten’s Mozart scores and recordings held at The Britten-Pears Library at Aldeburgh, in Suffolk. The next phase will be to consider the scores of other composers that Britten is known to have performed, such as Schubert for instance, to assess whether they also contain the same level of annotations that are found within Britten’s Mozart scores. The project will also include any performance annotations that can be found within Britten’s own compositions. Although admittedly, the preliminary search in this field has found very little so far; which is perhaps not surprising, considering Britten’s compositional style. It is hoped that over the coming years, this resource will evolve to include all aspects of Britten’s career as a performer. We would therefore be very grateful if any reader has information concerning this aspect of Britten’s life, if they would contact us to discuss it further.

Since his death, Benjamin Britten’s scores and papers have been preserved at the Britten-­Pears Library at Aldeburgh in Suffolk. Whilst many of his letters are now published and his compositions and sketches have been collated and research on them is continuing, Britten’s performance material has only recently been catalogued. This AHRC-­funded collaborative project between the Britten-­Pears Foundation and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is the first research project to be focused exclusively on this material.

The Mozart scores in the Britten-­Pears Library reveal the detailed and often revelatory annotations that Britten prepared as both a performer and conductor. In particular, his annotations in certain works of Mozart portray a profound insight into questions of interpretation. This material thus opens a window onto the processes of preparing an interpretation (instructive to performers, conductors and composers), and allows comparative study of the relationship between the conductor’s intentions as evidenced by the scores, and the actual performances as evidenced by extant recordings.

The first phase of the project included a comprehensive survey of the available material. Where it is possible to correlate scores with specific recordings, a detailed picture of the relationship between the conductor’s intentions and the eventual realisation can also be discovered. Critical reception of recordings and live performances will provide a measure of the cultural significance and reception of Britten’s interpretations, whilst recollections of musicians who performed at such events cast further light on the extent, for instance, that Britten insisted on the execution of his own annotations.

It is hoped that this research will help to situate Britten’s work as a performer in the wider context of his time and cultural milieu and thereby contribute to an evaluation of his contribution in this field. It will also develop innovative methodological online tools suitable for further analysis of performance annotations, in Britten’s own compositions and in the scores of other conductors.

The initial aim of this project is to examine the concept of a ‘Britten style’ of performing Mozart, with particular reference to the annotated scores, preserved in the archive at the Britten-Pears Library. The archive houses the entire libraries of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, including a large number of scores they used for performance. This collection demonstrates Britten’s interest in, and affinity for, the music of Mozart, there being extant recordings of several piano concertos, symphonies, other ensemble music, and not least, the opera Idomeneo, recently released on DVD. However, the archive also holds Britten’s scores of these works, and these afford fascinating insights into the working methods of Britten as a performer.

In total, leaving the amount of annotation aside for one moment, the library catalogue lists over five hundred and fifty scores attributed to Mozart that were owned (or part-owned) by Britten. Inevitably then, the first task has been to record the extent of annotation, thus to make a direct contribution to the cataloguing of the archive itself. Of course, not all of these annotations were in Britten’s own hand. Predictably, some were made by others close to Britten, including Peter Pears, Rosamund Strode, Imogen Holst and Joan Cross, or by lesser-known individuals. There were also a significant amount of annotations on the same score in various hands (particularly in the instrumental parts, as we might expect), or where the author of the annotation remains unknown.

Of those judged to have a significantly high level of annotation in Britten’s own hand, there were thirty-six separate scores, of which thirty were different works. These consisted of full scores (i.e. those likely to have been used for performance/conducting), study scores, miniature scores, vocal scores and instrumental parts. This process of deduction produced a concise list of works that formed the basis for further investigation. However, whilst leafing through some of these it soon became apparent that a certain number of works would demand a significant amount of attention on their own. For instance, the source material connected to Britten’s performance of Idomeneo was so large and vast in terms of quantity and detail, it would warrant an entire sub-project in its own right.

Of the remaining scores that appeared in the original search criteria of over five hundred and fifty, were collections donated to the Britten-Pears Foundation (many were bestowed after Britten’s death) by other people and are currently not thought to have been used by Britten for performance purposes; works by other composers that were transcriptions of original works by Mozart; works by other composers that were dedicated to Mozart; or indeed, original works by Britten that offered an elucidation to unknown or missing sections of Mozart’s works. A set of well-known examples of these are Britten’s original cadenzas to Mozart’s Piano Concerto in Eflat, K.482. There were also numerous editions of works by Mozart that formed part of Peter Pears’ private collection. Whilst these might prove fascinating in isolation and may even form part of an investigation if there appears to be an overlap with the scores owned or used by Britten (particularly in light of their performance history together), they do not at this time fall inside the remit of this project.

The annotations themselves that are of most interest in Britten’s Mozart scores consist of either tempo markings, dynamics, articulation and phrasing, conducting directions (such as a reminder to count ‘in 3’) or usually a combination of them all. Upon examining this source material a number of research questions have already arisen. For example,

  • what for Britten was the primary purpose of the annotations?
  • what do they tell us about the development of performance practice in the 1960s and ’70s in England?
  • how do the annotations contribute to the larger scale articulation of the music, or to the identification of a ‘Britten style’ of performing Mozart?

Prof. Michael Harris (co-collaborator) has recently recorded a version of Britten’s annotations of Mozart’s Serenade for 13 Winds with students at Birmingham Conservatoire, thus demonstrating that Britten’s interpretations and musicianship can usefully be communicated to a new generation of practicing musicians.  It is hoped that the source material and any subsequent analysis offered here will likewise disseminate Britten’s practice-based and embodied knowledge, not of how Mozart’s music ‘should’ be performed but how it can be, using modern instruments and in modern contexts.

The project consisted of four principal activities:

  1. Assess and catalogue the extent of Britten’s annotations found within his Mozart scores.
  2. Comparative and contextual analysis of these sources.
  3. The acquisition of digital images of the most heavily annotated scores (as part of phase 1).
  4. Develop the technical means to display these images for further comparative analyses by other users (performers/composers/academics etc.).

These activities were conducted by Simon Brown at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and in close collaboration with The Britten-Pears Foundation.

The scanning standards were set and monitored by Simon Brown (Birmingham Conservatoire). The website was developed and hosted using the semantic personal publishing platform, Wordpress v.3.4.1. In addition to being made available under the General Public License version 2 and therefore free to use, this meant that the design, build and development of the website can be easily copied for other purposes and similar academic endeavours. Another advantage of using WordPress was the ease of content management, social networking integration and the tools for online display, manipulation and searching of the images. The software, Zoomify was used as the preferred method of image-display system. This allows musicians and academics to search and browse the images, some of which are different sizes, to move easily between and compare multiple manuscripts and editions of the same piece. The following pages hope to give sufficient instructions on how this site was built, and therefore enable other users to develop, build and maintain their own sites for similar research projects in the future.

Acquisition of images

Due to both time and financial restrictions the images were photographed rather than professionally scanned, using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 digital camera, with a LEICA DC Lens (10.1MP, 25mm Wide-angle, 12x Optical Zoom). For this reason, users will notice some variability in the lighting quality of the editions. Although every effort was made to ensure that the images appeared to be consistent throughout the virtual collection, it was inevitable that such discrepancies would occur. However, the inconsistencies are not considered to be significant enough to detract from their usability. Indeed, if a user finds any image to be particularly difficult to read, they still have the ability to zoom in closer, thus hopefully resolving the issue.

Quantity and content of images

The Online Edition of Britten’s Performance Annotations (TOEBPA) typically required photographing each annotated score in its entirety, including wrappers and blank pages, unless specified otherwise. Each page was photographed individually and saved as an individual file, with a unique filename. Despite this, TOEBPA typically shows only those pages with music text, along with title pages where relevant annotations might be contained.

Quality of images

The following basic quality standards were established for all digital images in TOEBPA:

  • Images were photographed at the highest resolution possible, typically 2736 × 3648 pixels, with Auto White Balance enabled.
  • Images were saved as JPEG files.
  • No compression or other modification, such as sharpening, was applied to the JPEG files.
  • The colour profile was that of the aforementioned camera profile.
  • The orientation of pages when photographed was kept as level as was practically possible, and right-side up.The scores were captured as close to the page edges (sometimes visible) ensuring all annotations and printed markings were in view, and the images were never cropped.
  • Overall, photographs should capture with fidelity the smallest significant details of each image, without resulting in impractically large file sizes or requiring heavy editing after the scanning process.


TOEBPA obtained permission from The Britten-Pears Foundation and various publishers to display the digital images in the Online Collection. According to the standard agreement, and as a rule of thumb, copyright in the digital images supplied by The Britten-Pears Foundation is owned by the latter, whereas TOEBPA owns the database rights in the TOEBPA resource. Users will find copyright notices above each of the images displayed in TOEBPA, and should they wish to reproduce any images in full or in part they must first seek the express permission of the supplying institution or other designated copyright holder. (TOEBPA cannot offer any assistance in this regard.) As for the textual material within TOEBPA, normal scholarly citation is of course acceptable, provided that full attributions are given in accordance with bibliographic conventions.

WORDPRESS Version 3.4.1

Installation: Famous 5-minute install*

  1. Unzip the package in an empty directory and upload everything.
  2. Open wp-admin/install.php in your browser. It will take you through the process to set up a wp-config.php file with your database connection details.
    1. If for some reason this doesn’t work, don’t worry. It doesn’t work on all web hosts. Open up wp-config-sample.php with a text editor like WordPad or similar and fill in your database connection details.
    2. Save the file as wp-config.php and upload it.
    3. Open wp-admin/install.php in your browser.
  3. Once the configuration file is set up, the installer will set up the tables needed for your blog. If there is an error, double check your wp-config.php file, and try again. If it fails again, please go to the support forums with as much data as you can gather.
  4. If you did not enter a password, note the password given to you. If you did not provide a username, it will be admin.
  5. The installer should then send you to the login page. Sign in with the username and password you chose during the installation. If a password was generated for you, you can then click on ‘Profile’ to change the password.

System Requirements

  • PHP version 5.2.4 or higher.
  • MySQL version 5.0 or higher.

System Recommendations

Online Resources

If you have any questions that aren’t addressed in this document, please take advantage of WordPress’ numerous online resources:

The WordPress Codex

The Codex is the encyclopedia of all things WordPress. It is the most comprehensive source of information for WordPress available.

The WordPress Blog

This is where you’ll find the latest updates and news related to WordPress. Recent WordPress news appears in your administrative dashboard by default.

WordPress Planet

The WordPress Planet is a news aggregator that brings together posts from WordPress blogs around the web.

WordPress Support Forums

If you’ve looked everywhere and still can’t find an answer, the support forums are very active and have a large community ready to help. To help them help you be sure to use a descriptive thread title and describe your question in as much detail as possible.

WordPress IRC Channel

There is an online chat channel that is used for discussion among people who use WordPress and occasionally support topics. The above wiki page should point you in the right direction. (irc.freenode.net #wordpress)

XML-RPC and Atom Interface

You can post to your WordPress blog with tools like Windows Live WriterEctow.bloggarRadio Userland (which means you can use Radio’s email-to-blog feature), NewzCrawler, and other tools that support the blogging APIs! You can read more about XML-RPC support on the Codex.

Post via Email

You can post from an email client! To set this up go to your “Writing” options screen and fill in the connection details for your secret POP3 account. Then you need to set up wp-mail.php to execute periodically to check the mailbox for new posts. You can do it with cron-jobs, or if your host doesn’t support it you can look into the various website-monitoring services, and make them check your wp-mail.php URL.

Posting is easy: Any email sent to the address you specify will be posted, with the subject as the title. It is best to keep the address discrete. The script will delete emails that are successfully posted.

User Roles

We introduced a very flexible roles system in version 2.0. You can read more about Roles and Capabilities on the Codex.


WordPress is free software, and is released under the terms of the GPL version 2 or (at your option) any later version. See license.txt.

*These instructions together with more detail information are available from www.wordpress.org [accessed on 12/02/2013]


Creating and Publishing Zoomify Images*

Zoomify Images are simple to create and publish. First, open the Converter folder and copy your source image into it. Double-click the Converter icon and use the File | Open menu to select a JPG, TIF, or BMP source image file to convert. Or, simply drag any your source image file onto the onto the clearly labeled drop zone of the converter dialog. A visual display will show conversion progress. When the conversion completes, locate the new folder the converter has created. You will find it directly next to the original source image (that is, in the same folder as the source image).

To publish your new Zoomify Image simply copy the Zoomify Image folder (the entire folder, not just its contents) to your web server along with the ZoomifyImageViewer.js file, and the Assets folder (and its subfolders). Then create a web page (html file) and copy it to the server as well.

The web page must include three simple lines to tell it where to find the Viewer file and the image folder – and where in the page to display the image. Numerous examples are provided in the main product folder.

These FOUR items are all that is needed – your Zoomify Image folder, the ZoomifyImageViewer.js file, the Assets folder, and a web page HTML file.
Please note that the Assets folder contains many subfolders. It is easiest to simply upload the entire Assets folder to your web server, however, for basic uses only the folder ìAssets/Skins/Defaultî will be need to be uploaded. The Viewer expects to find a folder named ìAssetsî containing a folder named ìSkins containing a folder named ìDefaultî in the same location as the ZoomifyImageViewer.js file. This holds the small graphics files that are used to create the toolbar of the Zoomify Image Viewer. The files can actually be placed anywhere, however if the above folder structure is not used, the zSkinPath parameter must be used to specify the location of the files. For example, the ‘ToolbarSkinned’ example web page (Developer and Enterprise products only) uses the zSkinPath parameter to tell the Viewer to use the skin graphics in the Assets/Skins/Dark folder to create a different toolbar look.

*These instructions were copied from the READ ME FIRST.txt file that is supplied with the Zoomify HTML Developer version for Mac [accessed on 12/02/2013]. For complete details on creating and publishing Zoomify Images, please see the User’s Guide in the Documentation folder of Zoomify or visit www.zoomify.com.

The Online Edition of Britten’s Performance Annotations was made possible through the generous support of The Britten-Pears Foundation, which provided invaluable help, advice and encouragement to realise this initiative between October 2009 and July 2018. Further support was offered by the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and by the Collaborative Doctorate programme of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through funding awarded to the project.

Professor Peter Johnson at Birmingham Conservatoire offered extensive advice, guidance and steer throughout the project. Special thanks are also due to Prof. Michael Harris, as co-collaborator he was one of the first to realise the significance of Britten’s annotated Mozart scores after their initial discovery. Staff at The Britten-Pears Library in Aldeburgh also offered considerable assistance. A huge amount of gratitude is due in particular to Dr Lucy Walker, Dr Nick Clark and Dr Chris Grogan. Christine Quentin and Katharina Malecki of the Bärenreiter-Verlag also deserve particular credit for giving permission to use the photographed scores.