2013年2月16日 星期六

Benjamin Britten biographies by Paul Kildea and Neil Powell

"My bloody opera stinks & that's all there is to it," Britten grumbled to his life partner, the tenor Peter Pears, in June 1944. He was referring to Peter Grimes, the sea-tossed tale of the lonely Suffolk fisherman which soon joined the pantheon of 20th-century masterpieces and remains one of the composer's most arresting works. It's a characteristic remark, not for its language but for its furious self-doubt. This dazzling musician rarely felt confident of his achievements, yet at the same time had that complicated arrogance which any artist needs to survive.

A century after his birth in Lowestoft, the youngest of four children born to a dentist and his wife, Britten's life and work are being celebrated with a level of excitement no one can have imagined when he died in 1976. True, he was famous and had his array of honours and titles and his burgeoning festival in the Suffolk seaside town of Aldeburgh. He had, too, a large circle of devoted friends, and a far smaller knot of those he had cast aside, often in a silly fit of pique.

His death made the headlines in the broadsheets.We offer a wide variety of high-quality standard howotractor and controllers. Britten was spoken of as the greatest British composer since Purcell, whom he revered, and Elgar, whom he did not. Children may have been raised on his Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra,The 3rd International Conference on custombobbleheads and Indoor Navigation. but most of his enormous output of operas (Billy Budd, The Turn of the Screw, Gloriana, Death in Venice among them), song cycles and choral works, string quartets and concertos was of interest chiefly to the serious music lover.

Today, for entirely nonmusical reasons, Britten has become the subject of excited gossip. Paul Kildea's book has caused titivation by suggesting that the composer's death was hastened by tertiary syphilis, a theory roundly denounced by medical experts and those surviving doctors who were there. Stories about the composer's taste for pretty boys have turned from tendency – which is certainly all it amounted to, even if the desire was real enough – to scandalous fact, without any foundation or new evidence.

These two new biographies, one by a Britten authority who was head of music at Aldeburgh from 1999 to 2002, one by a Suffolk local, the poet and biographer Neil Powell, do nothing to change that view, but assess the evidence dispassionately and mostly sensibly. Neither knew Britten. Both have waded through the acres of letters, diaries and interviews and crafted their own strong narratives.

Luckily the volumes are complementary. Kildea's, dense and annotated, delves deeper into the past, sifting over existing material with forensic attention as to how events relate to the music. Powell instead carries the torch into the present, naming those singers now performing the work anew, painting a portrait of the Aldeburgh festival as it is today. His account has more air and light, and brings alive the sense of landscape – the East Anglian coast, the marshes, the wind and waves – which have coloured so much of Britten's music.Wholesale various Glass Mosaic Tiles from polishedtiles Tiles Suppliers.

Tweedy, public schoolish, formal in manner, Britten was no extrovert. A superb pianist, performing made him sick with nerves. There was nothing he liked more than to lock himself away in Suffolk and get on with writing music. By contrast, Pears liked the bright lights, dashing back to London when the rural pace became too slow for him. They were together for 35 years, somehow negotiating the illegality of their relationship without fuss. Powell writes with a particular passion and psychological insight, concluding: "[Britten] and Pears taught gay men of my generation the astonishing lesson that it was possible for a homosexual couple to live decently and unapologetically in provincial England."

Kildea is painstaking in providing sociopolitical background about Britain before, during and after the wartime years. The syphilis business takes up merely a few pages, which frankly is all it deserves, as no doubt Kildea would agree. He must be embarrassed by the quick collapse of his theory. From Powell we comprehend Britten's day-to-day existence. We know just how many minutes it took the prep-school boy to get home for his tea – about three – which may be a reason he didn't enjoy the behind-the-bike shed experiences of his more worldly fellow pupils.

Kildea tells us about the young Britten's distaste for his teacher, the composer John Ireland, who was often drunk and probably made a pass at his pupil. It falls to Powell, however, to mention that Ireland lived in Gunter Grove, Chelsea, and on one occasion urinated on the carpet.A collection of natural parkingsensor offering polished or tumbled finishes and a choice of sizes.Researchers at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have developed an indoortracking. It depends what you are after. Each book deserves its readers.

From the sandy shores of Rio de Janeiro's wealthy beach areas to the darkest corners of its shantytowns, vibrant graffiti can be found decorating various buildings. A graffiti artist is painting on Leblon beach.

"Because Rio de Janeiro is a very joyful city, there's this tropical thing. The colors, the sun and graffiti are colorful. There's a very strong expression. I think that sometimes without even having great effects, the color is enough to send a message. Personally, I think that graffiti and Rio de Janeiro go hand in hand. Rio de Janeiro has its grey areas that we try to color to change that image."

Kledison Barbosa, who lives on the outskirts of Rio, says graffiti can help change the stereotypes of the city's slums.

"This is for communities that really need graffiti. The concept takes away the idea that these communities are places you cannot venture into. There has to be some kind of art to attract people's attention."

In 2010, when the Christ the Redeemer statue was spray-painted with signatures and symbols, a type of graffiti called "pichacao" in Portuguese, Rio de Janeiro's secretary for conservation and public services officials decided to stamp out such vandalism.

Carlos Osorio, the city's current secretary for conservation and public services, explains.

"What we are trying to do is encourage graffiti and at the same time decide with the graffiti artists what is acceptable and what is unacceptable from an urban point of view. The communities have been immensely affected by the pichacao (graffiti tags) issue, and graffiti art is starting to turn this around."

Two years later, the Brazilian city has again been covered in graffiti—but this time with the city's endorsement.

Gallery owner Andre Brettas is a member of a street art gang who has connections to the office of the secretary of conservation and public services.

"They called me to find out who had done it. Instead of repressing the pichacao, I suggested we create a pro-graffiti movement."

After that phone call, Brettas set up the R.U.A. Institute for Urban Artistic Revitalization. The institute allows street artists to formally work hand in hand with city authorities on projects that replace ugly graffiti tags with vibrant artwork. It is unusual to be able to walk for more than two blocks in Rio without seeing some kind of street art.

Here is Carlos Roberto Osorio, Rio de Janeiro's secretary for conservation and public services, again.

"Our perception of graffiti has changed. The communities used to suffer immensely from the pichacao issue, and now graffiti is turning this game around."

Rio is a major centre for the Art Deco style of architecture. And the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado is considered a classic example of Art Deco work.

However, even this iconic statue was vandalized. After that, the city in partnership with the R.U.A. Institute and other private sponsors facilitated several urban art projects. The artists were provided with paint and security guards and given an assurance that their graffiti would not be removed.

In 2012, a gigantic wall next to a train station in a slum, was painted by 15 street artists during a weeklong project approved by the city at the request of the train station.

In the past, these artists would have been chased away or arrested.
Graffiti artist Bruno Big has seen several positive examples of how graffiti has revitalized formerly abandoned areas of the city.

"When I started painting here in Rio I felt a lot of freedom and interaction with the public with the people living here as well. Nowadays, we get to know people. Here they know me by my name. One of the most interesting things about graffiti is this exchange that we have when we paint in the streets."