Britten-Pears Archive

The award-winning Archive, designed by Stanton Williams Architects. Photo: Philip Vile.
Visual disability facilities icon

The Britten–Pears Library - as it was originally known - was assembled by Benjamin Britten (1913–1976) and Peter Pears (1910–1986), as a working library built on their personal collections of books manuscripts, printed scores and sound recordings.

The Britten-Pears Library Trust was established in 1973, and the building was officially opened to the public as a facility for research by Sir Peter Pears in May 1980. Following Pears' death in 1986, the Library Trust was renamed the Britten–Pears Foundation.

Since that time the holdings have expanded to include, in addition to books, scores and sound recordings originally owned by Britten and Pears, all published studies on the composer and singer’s life and works, together with a comprehensive collection of unpublished dissertations. Today there is still a growing collection and books on composers, writers, artists and musicians who worked with and who inspired them through their lives are continually added, together with all commercial releases of Britten’s music, making the collection particularly strong in the areas of twentieth-century music and the arts.

The entire collection has been Designated as being of national importance.

The Archive, opened in June 1913, brings together under one roof collections that were previously across the site. The stable conditions needed for long-term preservation are achieved by low-energy, passive means rather than air-conditioning, making this a landmark sustainable building in the archive world.

The collections team provides a comprehensive range of reader services, both to those visiting The Red House in person and remotely.

Venue Type:

Library, Archive

See also

Opening hours

Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm.

Please note that we require one week's notice for research visits.

Admission charges

There is no charge to visit the Archive, although additional services such as reprographics are charged. Please enquire for details.

Getting there

From the A12, take the A1094 to Aldeburgh. At the roundabout past the supermarkets, take the first exit then follow the brown signs.

Users of satnav and online mapping systems beware: you may be misdirected into Linden Close, from where there is no access to our site.

The entire collection of the BPF Archive is a Designated Collection of national importance, and is also of international significance. It is centred on the papers of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, but its scope is much wider than these two individuals, providing a broad context for the development of 20th century music in the UK.

The extensive collections comprise printed scores, books and periodicals, electronic resources and audio and video recordings.

The collection development policy relating to printed music includes the acquisition of all new Britten publications and reprints, the continuation of collected and complete editions to which Britten and Pears subscribed (and some others) and the occasional purchase of new editions of music closely related with Britten. The collection includes: the complete published works of Benjamin Britten; music used and annotated by Pears or Britten; a range of complete and collected editions; printers' copies, proofs and early editions of Britten's works; English vocal music, from the sixteenth century to the present day, often in early editions.

Books and periodicals: Building on the extensive collection put together by Britten and Pears themselves, BPF continues to acquire new books relating to twentieth-century music (especially British), and to literary and artistic movements in which Britten and Pears were interested and figures with whom they were connected. The collection is particularly strong in the following areas: literature relating to Britten, Pears and their associates; literature related to English songs and singers; published and unpublished dissertations relating to Britten and Pears. There is also an extensive general collection of poetry, drama and books on other subjects.

BPF subscribes to a range of music journals, and also collects individual copies of journals containing articles relating to Britten.

Sound & film: BPF seeks to acquire a copy of every commercially available sound recording of Britten's music. In addition it has an extensive archive of sound recordings and video cassettes relating to the careers and lives of Britten and Pears.

Collection details

Personalities, Performing Arts, Music, Literature, Costume and Textiles, Archives

Key artists and exhibits

  • Benjamin Britten archive
  • Peter Pears archive
  • Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts archive
  • Britten–Pears Young Artist Programme archive
  • English Opera Group / English Music Theatre Company archive
  • Lennox Berkeley and the Berkeley Family papers
  • Cecil Armstrong Gibbs Papers
  • Paul Hamburger Collection
  • Nancy Evans and Eric Crozier papers
  • Joan Cross papers
  • Julian Herbage papers
  • London Boy Singers Association archive
  • Aldeburgh Music Club archive
  • Gustav Holst and Imogen Holst
  • Designated Collection

Getting there

From the A12, take the A1094 to Aldeburgh. At the roundabout past the supermarkets, take the first exit then follow the brown signs.

Users of satnav and online mapping systems beware: you may be misdirected into Linden Close, from where there is no access to our site.

Britten-Pears Archive
The Red House
Golf Lane
IP15 5PZ




01728 451700

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.