BENJAMIN BRITTEN'S public profile is in poor shape, three years ahead of the centenary of his birth in 1913. Mauled by prurient biographers and television documentarists, the most successful composer of operas in the English language stands accused of paedophilia, pro-Sovietism and disloyalty to friends, whom he referred to as "corpses" after they were dumped. Britten, according to the prevalent view, was a small-minded, provincial music maker, concerned chiefly with his own advancement.
生于1913年的本杰明·布里顿将在三年后迎来百年诞辰,他的公众形象声名狼藉,要归咎于趣味低级的传记作家和电视纪录片导演,他们指责这位英语世界最成功的歌剧作曲家是恋童癖,亲苏分子,对朋友背信弃义,反目成仇后把好友称为“行尸走肉”。按照世人通常的看法,布里顿是个心胸狭窄、短见薄识的音乐匠人,只关心自己的远大前程。  更多信息请访问:http://www.24en.com/

His defenders argue that he was a shy man who took necessary precautions to protect his life with Peter Pears, a tenor, at a time when homosexuals were routinely prosecuted and jailed. No famous person who was gay could give his or her trust readily to the hordes of conductors, directors and fixers who cling to a good composer like barnacles to a flagship. Britten did his best. Following the hero of his 1945 operatic masterpiece, "Peter Grimes", he settled in the fishing village of Aldeburgh, his back to the sea beneath lowering skies. He stands besieged by his own metaphors.
本杰明·布里顿的支持者辩解说,他生性腼腆,为人谨慎,以免他和歌唱家彼得·皮尔斯的生活受到干扰,那个时代的同性恋通常会遭到起诉,锒铛入狱。同性恋的名人不可能轻易信任成群结队的乐队指挥、导演和助手,他们一旦攀上出色的作曲家,就像粘在旗舰底下的海藻一样不肯松手。布里顿只有尽力而为。在1945年创作歌剧杰作《彼得·格莱姆斯》后,布里顿就定居在奥尔德堡的渔村里,这里邻近海边,天色阴沉,让他沉浸在自己的世界里。

Yet his midlife letters—this is the fifth of six projected volumes—reveal quite a different man. In much of his correspondence, Britten is warm, addressing his friends as "my dear" or "dearest" and showing detailed concern for their tribulations. He can be catty but is preternaturally outgoing. This is when he branched out into Japanese Noh-plays ("Curlew River") and Shakespearean drama ("A Midsummer Night's Dream"). Amid these ethereal ambitions, there is also triviality.
这部书信集计划出版六卷,第五卷收录了布里顿中年时期的信件,揭示了他与众不同的个性。在大部分书信中,布里顿热情洋溢,称呼他的朋友为“亲爱的”或“挚爱”,对他们的苦难殷切关怀。他生性圆滑巧妙,却开朗活泼,令人难以置信。这段时间里,他创作的《麻鹬河》借鉴了日本能剧,而《仲夏夜之梦》借用了莎士比亚戏剧。而在这些超越尘俗的壮举中,也有平凡琐事穿插其间。

When Robert Graves, whom he has never met, invites him to compose a Broadway musical that Jerome Robbins wants to stage, Britten is "flattered" and "extremely interested". Reading "Song for Sheba", he reluctantly withdraws, but he takes pains to assure Graves that "it has every ingredient needed for a terrific success" and recommends him to approach Malcolm Arnold, "a brilliant composer who writes highly colourful music". This is not a man of closed mind or mean spirit. He acts with due decency while preserving sound judgment (the musical never got made).
和他素未谋面的罗伯特·格雷夫斯,请他为杰罗姆·罗宾斯编导的百老汇音乐剧作曲,布里顿感到受宠若惊,颇感兴趣。看了《示巴女王之歌》后,布里顿非常为难地推辞了,不过他特意向格雷夫斯保证,“该剧具备大获成功的所有因素”,并且向他推荐了马尔科姆·阿诺德,“这位才华横溢的作曲家会写出丰富多彩的音乐。”此举表明他不是头脑闭塞、灵魂卑劣的人。他的行为举止优雅端庄,同时拥有良好的判断力(这部音乐剧却没有这些特质)。

Musical myths are sharply deflated by some of these letters. Britten and Pears are supposed to have slunk out of the 1968 premiere at Aldeburgh of Harrison Birtwistle's ultra-violent opera, "Punch and Judy". Birtwistle himself has no recollection of such an exit and, while he may have disliked the opera, Britten's letters show both sympathy and support for the difficult young composer, and he helps him obtain a study fellowship in America.
这些信件无情地戳破了音乐神话。1968年,哈里森·伯特威斯尔在奥尔德堡为他风格粗犷的歌剧《潘趣和朱迪》举行了首演,布里顿和皮尔斯竟然偷偷溜出了剧场。伯特威斯尔本人丝毫不记得两人的中途退场,他也许并不喜欢这部歌剧,布里顿的信件表明,他向这位处境艰难的年轻作曲家表示了同情和支持,帮他获得了美国的奖学金。

Amid musical sectarianism, with serial theorems and electronic squeaks the fashionable norms, Britten maintained a benign neutrality, showing an unexpected interest in "Le Marteau Sans Maitre" by Pierre Boulez and commissioning works of broad diversity for his Aldeburgh festival. He favoured Luigi Nono, Hans Werner Henze and, most of all, the nervous Soviet composer, Dmitri Shostakovich. Britten knew that Shostakovich and his Russian satellites, Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter, dissented from Soviet policies and postures on the world stage that he supported. Politics, however, was not allowed to intrude on friendship. His affection for Shostakovich was symbiotic. The Russian declared himself speechless with admiration for Britten's pacifist "War Requiem", which the commissars deplored. Britten regretted that he was "only too aware of where it falls short of the idea, which is so close to my heart." Born just before the first world war, and self-exiled during the second, he would accept anything to avert another global conflict.
在充满一系列法则和规范的音乐流派中,布里顿保持着善意的中立,令人意外的是,他对皮埃尔·布列兹的《无主之槌》颇感兴趣,为他主办的奥尔德堡音乐节引入了多种风格的音乐作品。他偏爱路易吉·诺诺和汉斯·维尔纳·亨策,尤其欣赏苏联作曲家德米特里·肖斯塔科维奇的音乐。布里顿深知,肖斯塔科维奇、米斯特斯拉夫·罗斯托波维奇和斯维亚托斯拉夫·李希特等俄国音乐家遭到苏联政界的排挤,而在他支持的世界舞台上大放异彩。然而,政治没有干扰他们的友情。他对肖斯塔科维奇深表崇敬。肖斯塔科维奇宣称,自己悉心倾听了布里顿宣扬和平主义的《战争安魂曲》,而人民委员对此深表遗憾。布里顿哀叹,他“非常清楚那个国家缺少理想,而这种理想为我所敬重”。布里顿生于第一次世界大战前,在第二次世界大战期间流亡海外,自然会接受避免全球再次陷入战乱的理念。

When Britten heard a Mahler symphony, he would drop an affectionate note to the composer's widow in California; when old friends died he found exactly the right things to say to their spouses. Alongside these civilities, he could also terminate long friendships in a single sentence.
布里顿听到马勒的交响乐后,提笔给加利福尼亚的马勒遗孀写了一封饱含深情的信;每当老朋友黯然离世,他都会言辞巧妙地安慰其家人。在这份礼貌客气之外,他也会用一句话断送了长久的深厚友情。

After 25 years he dismissed Boosey & Hawkes as his publishers and when the Earl of Harewood, one of his most devoted and useful enthusiasts, ended his first marriage, Britten's response was chilling. Noting that "our paths have recently gone in different directions", he told Harewood that "I often think of you with admiration and affection". Within the next 50 words, he banned him from Aldeburgh and sacked him as festival president. Even in politics, such ruthlessness is rare.
他与布斯和霍克斯出版社合作了25年后毅然决裂,当他最忠实热情的追随者尔伍德伯爵结束第一段婚姻时,布里顿的反应令人寒心。他曾经告诉海尔伍德伯爵,“我常常对你充满敬佩和爱慕之情”,如今却说,“我们如今走上了不同的道路”。接下来,布里顿用了区区50个字,宣布禁止海尔伍德来到奥尔德堡,免去了他音乐节主席的职位。即使在政坛上,这样的冷酷无情也实属罕见。

Yet there are more sides to Benjamin Britten than random cruelties, some of which may have been fired by the lurking Pears. Britten was a bigger man and a more important composer than his present reputation suggests. Three years until his centenary is time enough for a fresh biographer to put the record straight.
然而,除了隐身在幕后的皮尔斯让他如此冷酷无情,本杰明·布里顿的性格还有很多侧面。比起现在的毁誉参半,布里顿的人品更崇高伟大,他的作品更举足轻重。据布里顿百年诞辰还有三年时光,足以让传记作家来澄清是非,披露真相。