For piano and orchestra, op. 13
Subtitle: For piano and orchestra
Other titles: Concerto no I in D major for solo pianoforte and orchestra. [1938] Piano concerto no 1, Op. 13 [1945] Concerto for piano and orchestra [1968]

The concerto was first performed and published as 'no. 1', although a successor was never composed.

Period of composition: 7 Feb - 26 Jul 1938
Date notes

The start date is given as January 1938 on the fair copy score, but Britten writes in his diary that he started the concerto on 7 February. The revisions were sent to Clifford Curzon on 1 Sep 1945.

Revised: ca. Aug 1945
First performance: 18 Aug 1938 >>
Type of performance: Concert performance
Location: Queen's Hall, London
Performance details:

Benjamin Britten pf, BBC SO, Sir Henry Wood cond

Genre: Orchestral
Performing forces:

Orchestra: 2 fl (=picc), 2 ob (II=ca), 2 cl in A and B flat, 2 bn - 4 hn, 2 tpt in C, 3 trbn, tuba - timp, 2 perc (sd, td, bd, tamb, cymb, block, whip) - harp - str

Duration: 33'
Dedication: 'To Lennox Berkeley'

Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989), English composer.


The original slow movement was replaced in 1945 by the 'Impromptu'. See individual movements for further details.


  • 1 Toccata
  • 2 Waltz >>

    Shares some musical material with By the moon we sport and play (ca. 1936) and Untitled piece in F major (ca. 1936-37).

  • 3 Impromptu >>

    This movement replaced the original slow movement, 'Recitative and aria', in 1945. It draws on material from Britten's music written for the radio play King Arthur (Mar-Apr 1937) (chosen deliberately because it was contemporary with the rest of the concerto) and on some of the figuration of the original slow movement. The main theme was later used by William Walton in his Improvisations on an impromptu of Benjamin Britten (1970).

  • 4 March

Discarded Movements

  • Discarded movement: Recitative and Aria >>

    Completed on 13 June 1938. It was replaced by 'Impromptu' in the 1945 revisions.