Royal Mint unveils Britten coin

The UK’s Royal Mint has unveiled the design for the 50p coin commissioned to mark the centenary of of the birth of composer Benjamin Britten.

The Britten coin marks the first time that a composer has been featured on a British coin, and is scheduled for release into general circulation later this year.

Designed by artist Tom Phillips CBE, RA, the coin features Tennyson’s words ‘Blow Bugle Blow’ and ‘Set the Wild Echoes Flying’, set to music by Britten in Serenade for tenor, horn and strings. The name of the composer is framed in a double stave.

Phillips said: ‘What I wanted the coin to speak of was music. Thus the stave soon entered the design… and 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. The words which eventually suggested themselves, come from the Serenade for tenor, horn and strings. What better clarion call for a musical anniversary could there be than ‘Blow, bugle, blow: set the wild echoes flying’?’

Richard Jarman, director of the Britten-Pears Foundation, said: ‘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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