About the Database

In 2010 Dr. Mandy Spivak and Dr. Nicholas Perna set out to create a guide of the songs of Benjamin Britten for voice teachers and singers.  Much of Britten's well-known output on recording and in print is quite challenging.  However, upon examination of his complete works, the authors realized that it would be possible to break his works into voice ability levels.  Categorizing the songs by ability level will allow voice teachers and singers more ease in examination of his catalog.  

To garner a more complete picture of Britten's song catalog, the authors spent a two-week residency in the Britten-Pears library at the Red House in July 2011.  While there, they examined the composer's sketches of the major song cycles and were granted access to analyze all of Britten's unpublished, complete juvenile songs for inclusion in this database.  

Included in the database are Britten's solo songs with piano, solo songs with single instrumental accompaniment (i. e. harp), orchestral songs with accessible piano reductions, and the folk song arrangements.  Excluded from the database are operatic arias, orchestral songs without accessible piano reductions, songs for more than one voice, and the Purcell realizations.  After extensive discussion, the authors felt that the folksongs were truly Britten's, whereas, the realizations, while inventive, were still Purcell's.

This labor of love has been a four year process.  Their poster presentation at the 2012 National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) National Conference was awarded "best poster."  The complete database and website was unveiled at the 8th International Congress of Voice Teachers (ICVT 8) in Brisbane, Australia, in July 2013.  

Voice Ability Levels Defined

Piano Ability Levels Defined

Annotation Explained

© Nicholas Perna and Mandy Spivak 2013