You are on page 1of 3

Friday Afternoons

Friday Afternoons is a collection of 12 songs by

Benjamin Britten, composed 193335 for the pupils
of Clive House School, Prestatyn, where his brother,
Robert, was headmaster.[1] Two of the songs, Cuckoo
and Old Abram Brown, were featured in the lm
Moonrise Kingdom.

8. Fishing Song (Izaak Walton)

9. The Useful Plough (Anon.)
10. Jazz-Man (Eleanor Farjeon)
11. There Was a Monkey (Anon.)
12. Old Abram Brown (Anon.)

3 Critical reception

Not long after graduating from the Royal College of Music, Britten started composing his collection of mostly
unison songs (the last song, Old Abram Brown, being
in canon) to texts he selected from Walter de la Mare's
anthology Come Hither.[2] Britten noted in his diary on
2 November 1933 (just over a month before his twentieth birthday) that he had composed that afternoon a
song, for R.H.M.B. & Clive House, very light & bad 'I
mun be married a Sunday'".[3] Ee-Oh!" followed on 19

The classical music writer Michael Oliver has said that

Friday Afternoons exemplies Brittens ability to write
melodies of the kind which insists on being sung and,
once sung, lodges in the memory. [9] John Bridcut has
pointed out that Brittens use of canon in Old Abram
Brown a little coup de matre [which] makes the funeral march great fun to sing[10] was a technique he
was to reuse in several future works such as A Ceremony
of Carols (This Little Babe) and Noyes Fludde. When
the rst recording was made of almost the entire collection (omitting Ee-oh) by the Choir of Downside School,
Purley on Decca, reviewer Diana McVeagh in The Musical Times described some of the songs having a spellbinding enchantment A New Year Carol is as healing
as 'Jack shall have Jill' in The Dream.[11]

There was no further mention in Brittens diary of composing school songs until May 1934, when he spent time
with Robert at Clive House and helped by coaching pupils
in cricket and taking singing classes.[5] He then resumed
work on his songs, including A New Year Carol, a setting of the traditional "Levy-Dew".[5] He completed the
collection in August 1935 with the song Begone, Dull

The title of the collection was originally Twelve Songs for

Schools,[7] but at the suggestion of Robert Britten was 4 References
changed to Friday Afternoons, since class singing was
held at Clive House at that time in the week.[8] Britten Notes
dedicated Friday Afternoons To R.H.M. Britten and the
boys of Clive House, Prestatyn.[8]
[1] Oliver: p. 217
[2] Palmer: p. 273


[3] Evans (2009): p. 152

1. Begone, Dull Care (Anon.)

[4] Evans (2009): pp. 157, 187

2. A Tragic Story (Thackeray)

[5] Evans (2009): pp. 210-11

3. Cuckoo!" (Jane Taylor)

[6] Britten (1991): p. 375

4. Ee-Oh!" (Anon.)

[7] Evans (2009): p. 285

5. A New Year Carol (Anon.)

[8] Bridcut (2006): p. 127

6. I Mun Be Married on Sunday (Nicholas Udall)

[9] Oliver, p. 51

7. There Was a Man of Newington (Anon.)

[10] Bridcut (2006): p. 23

[11] McVeagh, Diana (August 1967). Review: Gemini Variations; Psalm 150; Songs from Friday Afternoons by Britten, Gabriel Jeney, ZoltanJeney, Viola Tunnard, Choir
of Downside School and Purley. The Musical Times.
Musical Times Publications Ltd. 108 (1494): 714715.
doi:10.2307/952257. Retrieved 15 August 2014.

Cited sources
Bridcut, John (2006). Brittens Children. London:
Faber and Faber. ISBN 0571228399.
Britten, Benjamin (1991). Donald Mitchell, ed.
Letters From a Life: The Selected Letters of Benjamin
Britten, Volume I, 19231939. London: Faber and
Faber. ISBN 057115221X.
Evans, John (2009). Journeying Boy: The Diaries
of the Young Benjamin Britten 19281938. London:
Faber and Faber. ISBN 0571238831.
Oliver, Michael (1996). Benjamin Britten. London:
Phaidon Press. ISBN 0714832774.
Palmer, ed. Christopher (1984). The Britten
Companion. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN

External links
Friday Afternoons project, providing free downloads of lyrics, scores and teaching resources


Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses



Friday Afternoons Source: Contributors: Rjwilmsi, Bencherlite, Aletucker, Mushushu, Gerda Arendt, Trappist the monk, AFuersteHenry, The Traditionalist, Narky Blert and Anonymous: 2



File:Folder_Hexagonal_Icon.svg Source: License: Cc-bysa-3.0 Contributors: ? Original artist: ?

File:Symbol_list_class.svg Source: License: Public domain Contributors: ? Original artist: ?


Content license

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0