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Britten, Rejoice in the Lamb: Percussion 2

Dear Listers
Herewith is a selected compilation of responses to my question regarding the
use of percussion in Britten's "Rejoice in the Lamb". Sorry for the repeat
of some which did appear on the whole list.

Reference is made below to an orchestral version made with Britten's
approval although POSSIBLY later withdrawn. Boosey&Hawkes in Australia were
able to show me that score, although the parts are not held in this country.

My thanks to everyone who responded to my query.


I tried to track this down years ago because I loved it with percussion.
The answer, as I recall it, was that Britten wrote the percussion parts
but did not like it, so they are not available.

I can't speak with authority about it, but I certainly have never heard that
it had an original scoring for percussion of any type.

P.S. Have you encountered Dale Warland's new CD with this cantata on it?
Check it out

There is an EMI recording of the Britten "Rejoice in the Lamb" that is sung
by the Choir of King's College in Cambridge. This arrangement, as I already
explained to Mr. Morton, stems from an Aldeburgh Festival performance in the
1970's. I don't know if
Britten did the arrangement himself (surely not past 1976), but this is a
performed arrangement of the piece.

The recording # is:

CDM 5 65111 2

I personally don't like the arrangement, but it exists, nevertheless

I have open before me the newest edition of Peter Evans authoritative book
the works of Britten. In is he makes no mention whatever of percussion in
piece. Further, I have studied Britten and his music extensively and have
heard it thus performed. I think Leger must be on drugs! Some composers can
mucked with but not Britten. He was explicit tot he letter as to his
and to rethink him is not appropriate in my opinion.

Sorry, gentlemen-I just produced a new recording of "Rejoice in the Lamb"
with the Dale Warland Singers (the national release date was September
and Mr. Ledger is *not* on drugs. We knew that Boosey and Hawkes has a
Rejoice in the Lamb percussion part for rental (although his vocal score
not list it), unfortunately at a usurious rental rate. We decided not to use
it for two reasons, first, the one I just stated, and second-and don't quote
me on this-I had heard that the part was created by Imogen Holst, not
himself. I don't know if he had any input on the part or when it was
created-although Ms. Holst was Britten's secretary for a period of time,
according to Dale Warland. Anyone at Boosey or across the pond care to
enlighten us further on this?
I don't have the reference tools at hand to speak with complete authority,
I, too have heard the recording with percussion. I think it's awful. It
detracts considerably from an otherwise sublime work. I also know of no
evidence that Britten approved the added percussion.

However, I could be wrong about Britten's approval.

Nonetheless, a perfectly fine version exists without the annoying percussion
parts, and that is the clearly preferred option, in my humble but strong

PREVOST (3 volumes, PARIS, 1992), that 1/ "Rejoice in the Lamb" was
composed for "voix de garçon, alto, ténor et basse soli, choeur mixte et
orgue" ; 2/ "à la demande de BRITTEN, Imogen HOLST en a préparé une
version pour orchestre, destinée au Festival d'Aldeburgh" ; 3/ there is
an article published in THE MUSIC REVIEW, XXXIII, 1972 : "B. Britten's
'Rejoice in the Lamb'", By P.V.


This edition that contains percussion stems from an Aldeburgh performance in
the 1970's. Depending on the year, Britten may or may not have added the

Graeme Morton