Incidental music written for the play of the same name - an adaptation of the work by John Webster (ca. 1580-ca. 1634) by W.H. Auden (1907-1973). Originally Bertolt Brecht and H.R. Hays had begun the task of adapting Webster's play in the spring of 1945. Auden joined this collaboration in December of that year, following which Hays withdrew. Brecht and Auden produced several versions over the subsequent two years, but George Rylands - who was brought in as director - insisted the original Webster text was used with some minor appendages by Auden alone, causing Brecht to withdraw.
It is believed that it was Bertolt Brecht's suggestion (see text note) that Britten adapt material from his setting of the Lyke wake dirge from the Serenade, op. 31. In the original programme Ignatz Strasfogel is cited as arranging Britten's music, but his involvement is unclear: he may have directed the music during performances.
The manuscript score is missing.