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Shelf Lives

In 2002 the English filmmaker John Bridcut visited The Red House in Aldeburgh, the archive housing the papers of Benjamin Britten and his long-time partner, Peter Pears. Bridcut was early in his research for a project he would realise two years later as the documentary film Britten’s Children, and then, after another two years, as a book of the same name. I was then head of music at the Aldeburgh Festival, with a few books of my own on Britten under my belt. Partly because the topic interested me and partly because I was soon to leave Aldeburgh, I sidestepped the archive’s historical rectitude regarding Britten’s sexuality and told John that he really needed to track down and interview Wulff Scherchen, Britten’s lover in 1938, who had moved to Australia and was now known as John Woolford. I dug up the last address we had on file for him and left Bridcut to it.

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