Repertoire Search

Benjamin Britten

Publisher: Chester Music

Two Psalms (1931)
Chester Music Ltd
Chorus and Orchestra/Ensemble
Year Composed
16 Minutes

Buy this work
Worldwide Sales   North American Sales
Vocal Score   
Full Score   

Programme Note
Benjamin Britten Two Psalms (1931)
Britten composed the Psalms between July and December 1931 while he was at the Royal College of Music. He revised them shortly after, completing the revisions in January 1932. While they were never performed in the composer's lifetime, the psalms were well-regarded by both Britten (according to comments in his diaries at the time) and by others he consulted about them. He took them to composition lessons with John Ireland on at least one occasion, and also discussed them with Herbert Howells who gave him encouraging comments. In February 1932 Britten showed them to Vaughan Williams, who attempted several times to get them performed, but with no success. In May 1932 he submitted them, along with Phantasy Quintet in F minor (Jan-Feb 1932), in support of his application for the Mendelssohn Scholarship at the Royal College of Music (the application was unsuccessful, although he was awarded £50 by the scholarship committee in order not to 'discourage' him from composing).

The psalms, settings of Psalm 130 and Psalm 150, are scored for full orchestra and chorus and are among the most substantial works Britten composed while at the Royal College. They are the only large-scale works for chorus and orchestra composed in this period: the next work for comparable forces is Ballad of Heroes, written in 1937.

Preview the score:

  • 21 NOV 2014
    Sala koncertowa Filharmonii Narodowej Warszawa, Poland
    Orkiestra i Chór Filharmonii Lodzkiej
    Pawel Przytocki, conductor
  • 18 MAY 2014
    Two Psalms US Premiere
    National Presbyterian Church, Washington, US
    City Choir of Washington
    Robert Shafer, conductor
  • 01 DEC 2012
    Two Psalms World Premiere
    Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, UK
    Oxford Bach Choir and the English Chamber Orchestra
    Nicholas Cleobury, conductor

"There is no doubt that Britten, emerging from a traditional hinterland, is here embarking on a voyage of originality, melodically and harmonically."
Richard Allain, ABCD,01/07/2014
Close X

Newsletter Signup

Please fill in this form to receive regular news

Click here to receive regular news
© Copyright 2014 Music Sales Classical. Part of the Music Sales Group.