Although Benjamin Britten's best known work may be The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, much of his remarkable orchestral technique, broad musical palette and ability to revive the most traditional formal elements leave him with few peers in the 20th century.
Educated at the Royal Conservatory of Music, he signaled a second coming of English opera with his first major work for the stage, Peter Grimes. His other notable operas, still in wide performance today, include Billy Budd (1951), the The Turn of the Screw (1954), and Death in Venice (1973). His controversial War Requiem (1961) is also ubiquitously performed, as is his sophisticated work for chorus. His closing masterpiece was the abstract in the String Quartet no.3 (1975). After declining knighthood, Britten accepted a life peerage in 1976 and died later that year of heart failure.