I used to listen to BBC Radio 3 and 4 a lot in the 70s and 80s, and I remember that Radio 4 used to play a lot of Benjamin Britten's stuff. That has stuck in my mind, because I always found it hard work listening to any of Benjamin Britten's stuff, I just found it really dischordant and depressing, so I always used to change the channel or turn off the radio whenever any came on.
I just came accross some articles, and am reposting these two. I had absolutly no idea he was a paedophile.
I remember my headmistress Miss Dawson used to like to play classical musio in Assembly quite a lot, but I don't remember her ever playing any of Benjamin Britten's music to us.
The trouble with boys
By Norman Lebrecht / May 10, 2006
Anywhere you go in Europe, you will see a pride in national artists. Some years ago, over ten days in Prague and Brno, I saw nine of the 16 operas by Bohuslav Martinu and three by Dvorak. Strauss and Pfitzner are fixtures in Berlin and Vienna. In Paris, Gerard Mortier has made a priority of restoring French masterpieces to the Opéra, starting with Charpentier’s Louise and Halévy’s La Juive. All fit and proper and just as one would expect from public-funded institutions charged with curating the lyric corner of the national genius.
In Britain, to our wretched shame, you can go the length and breadth of the land and from one year to the next without seeing more than two of the ten operas by Benjamin Britten, the only native composer of modern times to warrant the title genius. None of our opera houses, public or private, has performed Britten complete and entire. There is a pledge at the Coliseum to treat him as its ‘house composer’ but renewing one opera a year falls a long way short of presenting the work sequentially and in context. The only company embarked on a Britten cycle is, so far as I am aware, the Monnaie in Brussels, a delightfully enlightened opera house uninhibited by British reserve.
For, as anyone who has sat upon an arts board knows, a prim ambivalence prevails in this country when Britten comes on to the agenda, a squirming in seats and a flurry of excuses that has nothing to do with worthiness of work and everything to do with hoary old tittle-tattle. The trouble is, in a word, boys. It is no secret that Britten liked boys, and liked them young. He wrote them into some 30 works. In his operas boys are pivotal, start to finish. The death of a boy is the beginning and end of Peter Grimes; watching a boy on the beach precipitates Death in Venice. There is no masking the composer’s affinity for the puerile, a fascination glossed away as Peter Pannish while he was alive but hedged nowadays by widespread and wholly justified anxieties of paedophilia, a malignant vice borne on internet wings.
It is this love of boys that triggers our squeamishness about Britten and the sooner we get to the root of it the sooner we will be able to embrace the work without qualm. A new book, out next month from Faber, takes a giant stride in that direction.
Britten’s Children started out in 2004 as an uncommonly intelligent and unapologetic arts documentary for BBC2 and is developed here by its producer John Bridcut into a clinical and comprehensive study of a great composer and his interest in small boys, augmented with untold encounters and archival revelations. Bridcut interviewed some two dozen boys who had close contact with Britten, among them several that he fostered in musical careers – the composers Michael Berkeley and Robert Saxton, the conductor Benjamin Zander, the tenor Adrian Thompson. Most celebrated of his boys was David Hemmings, 12 years old when he created the role of Miles in Turn of the Screw at its Venice premiere in 1954, a jump-start to his film stardom. Other chums were the sons of Britten’s circle of friends and colleagues, few of whom saw much amiss in allowing their lads to bathe in the bracing sea at Aldeburgh with a buck-naked adult composer who took unconcealed pleasure in their company. Those were, assuredly, unquestioning times.
Britten assisted with the boys’ tuition and maintained an avuncular interest in their progress, sending gifts on their wedding day. Some kissing is reported, nothing more. None of the boys interviewed was harmed physically or morally. Most treasured the connection even when, as in Hemmings’ case, it was severed abruptly the moment his voice broke. There were petty jealousies when one boy saw Britten with the next, but none of the rancour that pervaded many of Britten’s friendships with adults, whom he held in suspicion and despatched with brutality.
Britten was a child at heart, concludes Bridcut, innocent and repressively puritan, in no sense a predator. His verdict is confirmed in the operas, where the boy is always in need of protection, never up for seduction. Tadzio, in Thomas Mann’s novella, minces around Aschenbach in ways that Britten blocked in his version of Death in Venice. Britten’s Children is not the final word on the boys but it is encouraging to learn that Bridcut’s research was stimulated by the Britten estate through its chairman, the composer Colin Matthews, in the interest of an openness that should help to redeem Britten from nudge-nudge, wink-wink.
Yes, he was interested in boys, but they were no more than reflections of the boy in himself, an inner voice that was, as he sometimes hinted, the source of his inspiration, an ideal of beauty and goodness. I received a letter recently from someone who was approached after a school show in 1945 by two men, scouting on behalf of Benjamin Britten. My correspondent failed to get the part of apprentice in Peter Grimes (it went to Leonard Thompson) but it is impossible imagine that the respected librettist Eric Crozier or the chorusmaster Arthur Oldham would have gone around procuring for Britten if there were any suspicion that the boys might be misused. Crozier later fell out with Britten and accused him of ‘corrupting’ boys, but he specifically excluded physical abuse.
The time has come to lay the rumours to rest and concentrate on the benefice of the Britten legacy. Apart from the music, Britten left a festival and a retreat at Aldeburgh where musicians go to explore ideas and collaborations. It is the only place in Europe beyond music college where a pianist can practice with singers and a soloist can find new partners.
The enterprise, chaired by Lord Stevenson, is in expansion mode. But after gifts from the Arts Council, the Britten-Pears Foundation and private patrons, the £12 million appeal is £2.3m short and the change is proving hard to come by for Aldeburgh is off the fashionable circuit and Britten, in some quarters, is still a smutty word.
Enough of that. We’re in a new century and the linen that has been hung out to dry. We must accept Britten for what he was, a tormented innocent, and find the courage to stage his work coherently for the first time in a comprehensive cycle.
David Edward Leslie Hemmings (18 November 1941 – 3 December 2003) was an English film, theatre and television actor as well as a film and television director and producer.
He is noted for his role as the photographer in the drama mystery-thriller film Blowup (1966), directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. Early in his career, Hemmings was a boy soprano appearing in operatic roles. In his later acting career, he was known for his distinctive eyebrows and gravelly voice.
Hemmings was born in Guildford, Surrey. His education at Alleyn's School and the Glyn Grammar School (now the Glyn Technology School) led him to start his career performing as a boy soprano in several works by the composer Benjamin Britten, who formed a close friendship with him at this time. Most notably, Hemmings created the role of Miles in the opera Turn of the Screw (1954). His intimate, yet innocent, relationship with Britten is described in John Bridcut's book Britten's Children (2006). Although many commentators identified Britten's relationship with Hemmings as based on an infatuation, throughout his life Hemmings maintained categorically that Britten's conduct with him was beyond reproach at all times. Hemmings had earlier played the title role in Britten's The Little Sweep (1952), which was part of Britten's Let's Make An Opera! children's production.
 Film and television work
Hemmings then moved on to acting and directing in the cinema. He made his first film appearance in The Rainbow Jacket (1954), but it was in the mid-sixties that he first became well known as a pin-up and film star.
Antonioni, who detested the "Method" way of acting, sought to find a fresh young face for the lead in his next production, Blowup. It was then that he found Hemmings, at the time acting in small stage theatre in London.
Following Blowup, Hemmings appeared in a string of major British films, including Camelot (1967), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) and Alfred the Great (1969) (in which he played the title role). His short stature, sleepy eyes and undershot jaw made him an unconventional leading man, but unconventional was right for the times, and he became one of the princes of the "swinging London" scene. In keeping with his standing as a 1960s icon, he also appeared in Barbarella (1968).
Around 1967, Hemmings was briefly considered for the role of Alex in a planned film version of Anthony Burgess's novel A Clockwork Orange (1962), which was to be based on a screen treatment by satirist Terry Southern and British photographer Michael Cooper. Cooper and The Rolling Stones rock band were reportedly upset by the move and it was decided to return to the original plan in which Mick Jagger, the lead vocalist of The Rolling Stones, would play Alex, with the rest of The Stones as his droog gang; the production was shelved after Britain's chief censor, the Lord Chamberlain, indicated that he would not permit it to be made.
Hemmings directed the film The 14 (1973), which won the Silver Bear at the 23rd Berlin International Film Festival. An (Italian) cult movie in which Hemmings appeared was the thriller film Profondo Rosso (also known as Deep Red or The Hatchet Murders) (1975) directed by Dario Argento.
He directed David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich in Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo (also known as Just a Gigolo) (1978). The film was poorly received, Bowie describing it as "my 32 Elvis Presley movies rolled into one". Hemmings directed The Survivor (1981), based on James Herbert's 1976 novel of the same name, starring Robert Powell and Jenny Agutter.
Throughout the 1980s he also worked extensively as a director on television programmes including Quantum Leap (e.g., the series premiere), Magnum, P.I. (in which he also played characters in several episodes), The A-Team and Airwolf, in which he also played the role of Doctor Charles Henry Moffet, Airwolf's twisted creator, in the pilot and the second-season episode "Moffett's Ghost" (a typographical error by the studio's titles unit). He once joked, "People thought I was dead. But I wasn't. I was just directing The A-Team." He directed the New Zealand film Race for the Yankee Zephyr (1981), which starred Ken Wahl, Lesley Ann Warren, Donald Pleasence and George Peppard.
Hemmings also directed the puzzle-contest video Money Hunt: The Mystery of the Missing Link (1984). He directed the television film The Key to Rebecca (1985), an adaptation of Ken Follett's 1980 novel of the same name. He also briefly served as a producer on the NBC series Stingray.
Hemmings played a vindictive cop in the New Zealand film Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1980) about Arthur Allan Thomas (John Hargreaves), a New Zealand farmer jailed for the murder of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe but later pardoned. He directed the film Dark Horse (1992) and as an actor returned to the voyeuristic preoccupations of his Blowup character with a plum part as the Big Brother-esque villain in the season-three opener for the television series Tales From the Crypt.
In later years, he had film roles including appearing as Cassius in Gladiator (2000), with Russell Crowe, as well as appearing in Last Orders (2001) and Spy Game (2001). He appeared as Mr. Schemerhorn in the film Gangs of New York (2002). One of his final film appearances was a cameo appearance in the cult film, Equilibrium (2002), shortly before his death, as well as a cameo appearence in 2003's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, with Sean Connery.
In 1967 Hemmings recorded a pop single, "Back Street Mirror" (written by Gene Clark), and an album, David Hemmings Happens, in Los Angeles. The album featured instrumental backing by several members of The Byrds, and was produced by Byrds mentor Jim Dickson.
In the 1970s Hemmings was jointly credited with former Easybeats members Harry Vanda and George Young as a co-composer of the song "Pasadena". The original 1973 recording of this song – the first Australian hit for singer John Paul Young – was produced by Simon Napier-Bell, in whose SNB Records label Hemmings was a partner at the time.
Hemmings also later provided the narration for Rick Wakeman's progressive-rock album Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974) – an adaptation of Jules Verne's science-fiction novel A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) – which was recorded live.
He starred as Bertie Wooster in the short-lived Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Jeeves (1975).
Hemmings published his autobiography Blow Up... and Other Exaggerations – The Autobiography of David Hemmings (2004).
 Personal life
He is survived by his wife Lucy; a daughter Deborah by his first marriage to Genista Ouvry; a son Nolan by his marriage to Gayle Hunnicutt; and four children, George, Edward, Charlotte and William, by his third marriage, to Prudence J de Casembroot
Hemmings died in December 2003, at age 62, of a heart attack, in Bucharest, Romania, on the film set of Blessed (working title: Samantha's Child) after playing his scenes for the day.
His funeral was held in Calne, Wiltshire, where he had made his home for several years.
 Filmography and television works
(includes directing work)
The Rainbow Jacket (1954)
The Heart Within (1957)
Five Clues to Fortune (1957)
Saint Joan (1957)
Men of Tomorrow (1959)
No Trees in the Street (1959)
In the Wake of a Stranger (1959)
Sink the Bismarck! (1960)
The Wind of Change (1961)
Play It Cool (1962)
The Painted Smile (1962)
Some People (1962)
Live It Up! (1963)
Two Left Feet (1963)
West 11 (1964)
The System (1964)
Be My Guest (1965)
Eye of the Devil (1966)
The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)
The Long Day's Dying (1968)
Only When I Larf (1968)
Alfred The Great (1969)
The Best House in London (1969)
Simon, Simon (1970)
The Walking Stick (1970)
Fragment of Fear (1970)
Unman, Wittering and Zigo (1971)
The Love Machine (1971)
The 14 (1973; director)
Deep Red (1975)
The Old Curiosity Shop (1975)
Squadra antitruffa (1977)
Islands in the Stream (1977)
Crossed Swords (UK title: The Prince and the Pauper) (1977)
La via della droga (1977)
The Disappearance (1977)
The Squeeze (1977)
Blood Relatives (1978)
Power Play (1978)
Just a Gigolo (1978)
Murder by Decree (1979)
Charlie Muffin (US title: A Deadly Game) (1979)
Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1980)
Swan Lake (1981)
Man, Woman and Child (1983)
The Rainbow (1989)
Northern Exposure (1992)
Last Orders (2000)
Mean Machine (2001)
Spy Game (2001)
Gangs of New York (2002)
Slap Shot 2 (2002)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
David Hemmings (2004). Blow Up... and Other Exaggerations – The Autobiography of David Hemmings. Robson Books (London). ISBN 978-1-861-05789-1. Airwolf 1984
1.^ "David Hemmings - About This Person". Movies.nytimes.com. 2007-01-18. Retrieved 2011-06-10.
2.^ Hill, Lee (2002). A Grand Guy – The Art and Life of Terry Southern. Bloomsbury Publishing (London). p. 149. ISBN 978-0-747-55835-4.
3.^ "Berlinale 1973: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
4.^ MacKinnon, Angus (13 September 1980). "The Future Isn't What It Used to Be". NME. pp. 32–37.
5.^ "David Hemmings, 62, a Film Star in 'Blowup'". New York Times. 2003-12-05. Retrieved 2011-06-10.
 External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: David Hemmings
David Hemmings at the Internet Movie Database
David Hemmings at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
David Hemmings at Find a Grave
David Hemmings at AllRovi
David Hemmings at the TCM Movie Database
A collection of pictures taken on the set of Blowup
Pulleine, Tim (5 December 2005). "David Hemmings – Gifted Actor, Director and Producer Who Successfully Outgrew His Iconic 60s Image in Antonioni's Blow Up". The Guardian