Born in Suffolk, the son of a dentist, Britten showed talent from an early age. He first came to public attention with the a cappella choral work A Boy Was Born in 1934. With the premiere of Peter Grimes in 1945, he leapt to international fame. Over the next nine years, he wrote six more operas, establishing himself as one of the leading twentieth-century composers in this genre.
Britten's interests as a composer were wide-ranging; he produced important music in such varied genres as orchestral, choral, solo vocal , chamber and instrumental, as well as film music. He also took a great interest in writing music for children and amateur performers, and was an outstanding pianist and conductor.
Together with Pears and the librettist/producer Eric Crozier, Britten founded the annual Aldeburgh Festival, and was responsible for the creation of Snape Maltings Concert Hall. In his last years, Britten was the first composer to be given a life peerage.