Listening to Britten – Lucy

South Pier, Lowestoft – image courtesy of the Malcolm R. White website

Lucy – song for voice and piano (5 December 1926, Britten aged 13)

Dedication Mrs R.V. Britten (Britten’s mother)
Text William Wordsworth
Language English
Duration 1’25”

Background and Critical Reception

The fourth song Britten wrote in three days, Lucy bears a dedication to the young composer’s mother. It is his second setting of Wordsworth, after the unpublished Cuckoo of 1924. Britten doesn’t set the entire poem, but the phrase ‘for still I seem to love thee more and more’ stands out.


There is a rapturous feel to this song, more of an outpouring of deep emotion, which is helped by the rich tenor line. Lucy would seem to belong to a more English tradition in the line of Quilter, and the key of A major helps to swell the heart of the song.

Recordings used
Ben Johnson (tenor), Malcolm Martineau (piano) (world premiere recording) (Onyx)

A couple of tricky jumps in the melodic line, which Johnson negotiates effortlessly.

Free Download
There is a free download of Lucy available from the Onyx Classics website


Also written in 1926: George & Ira Gershwin – Lady, Be Good!

Next up: String Quartet in F major

This entry was posted in English, Listening to Britten, Songs, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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