Royal Mint unveils commemorative Britten coin

Charlotte Smith1st Sep 2013
Royal Mint to release commemorative Britten coinThe Royal Mint is to release a commemorative Britten coin designed by Tom Phillips

The Royal Mint has today unveiled the design for a 50 pence coin, commissioned to mark the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten - the first time a composer has featured on a British coin.

Part of Britten 100, the coin will be released into general circulation later this year, and is available from September 27 in commemorative gold proof, silver proof and uncirculated versions in time for the exact date of Britten’s centenary on November 22, 2013.

Designed by artist and composer Tom Phillips, the coin features Britten’s name framed in two musical staves, and Tennyson’s words - ‘Blow Bugle Blow' and ‘Set the Wild Echoes Flying' - which were set to music by Britten in his Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings.

‘What I wanted the coin to speak of was music,’ said Phillips. ‘Thus the stave soon entered the design, in this case the double stave of piano scores since Britten was an eloquent pianist. I found that his name married well with the stave. The natural accompaniment with Britten’s passion for poetry as our preeminent composer of opera and song, was some kind of key quotation.’

Richard Jarman, director of the Britten-Pears Foundation, continued: ‘Benjamin Britten wanted his music to be “useful” and to be played and heard by as many people as possible. He would therefore be thrilled that this new 50p coin will put him into everyone’s hands and pockets. We are enormously proud that Britten is being honoured in this way by the Royal Mint and the nation.’

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