Developing a web-based thematic catalogue: the music of Benjamin Britten

The online Britten Thematic Catalogue aims to document all manuscript sources pertaining to Britten's works as well as providing audio and notation incipits, full bibliographic details, other related material such as performance history, photographs, and, eventually, links to relevant correspondence. It will also for the first time provide a complete chronological listing of Britten’s works, including all of his juvenilia. The development of the technological structure of the catalogue has included the design and continuing refinement of a database scheme modelling the catalogue and the implementation of methods for integrating existing digital resources into the catalogue framework. The catalogue will ultimately provide desktop access to documentary information about Britten’s works and improved virtual access to the uniquely rich resources relating to Britten and his music, located primarily at the Britten-Pears Library in Aldeburgh.

Principal investigator
Dr Sharon Choa
Principal project staff
Dr Sharon Choa; Dr Chris Grogan
Start date
Thursday, June 1, 2006
Completion date
Friday, May 1, 2009
Source material
The vast majority (approximately 97%) of manuscript sources are held at the Britten-Pears Foundation in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. The project aims to catalogue the manuscript sources as a matter of priority and catalogue records will be made available in thematic catalogue records (a beta version is currently in operation: see Currently we are digitising sample pages from manuscript sources for display in catalogue records, but do not at this stage envisage displaying digital surrogates of the entire collection. The Foundation also holds the other archival material which will feed into the catalogue, such as programmes, reviews, photographs and correspondence. The concert programmes are being catalogued as part of another project at the Britten-Pears Foundation and these catalogued sources constitute a significant part of the thematic catalogue data.

Choa, Sharon. “Rejuvenating Britten: A First Report on the Production of a Web-Based Thematic Catalogue of Britten’s Works." Brio 44/1 (Spring/Summer 2007): 25-33

Walker, Lucy. “How a Child’s Mind Works: Assessing the ‘Value’ of Britten’s Juvenilia." Notes 64/4 (June 2008): forthcoming.