Hans van Manen’s choreography of Benjamin Britten’s early String Quartet in F features in the San Francisco Ballet’s four-part celebration of Hans von Manen, Van Manen: Dutch Grandmaster. This July Variations for two couples  concludes the San Francisco’s Ballet’s programme Starry Nights at Stanford Live on 26 and 27 July; in April 2025 it receives seven performances at the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco.

The work, first conceived for Dutch National Ballet in 2012, saw van Manen inspired by two dancing pairs, each with a very different character: the first lyrical and subdued, the second scintillatingly virtuosic. In Variations for two couples Britten’s music appears alongside that of Rautavaara, Bach, and Piazzolla; it was last performed in San Francisco in 2014, and appeared at the Philadelphia Ballet in 2022. In 2012 it received the Benois de la Danse.

The 1928 String Quartet in F is imbued with youthful energies across much of its 22-minute span, though tempered by a dark ending in F minor and an emotionally ambiguous slow movement, foreshadowing the emotional complexity of his later quartets. One of Britten’s early works and written under the supervision of his teacher Frank Bridge, it was not published until 1995. The work shows the clear influences of Beethoven’s String Quartet in F major, Op.18/6, the score of which Britten was gifted around the same time.

Britten’s works for string quartet, including the String Quartet in F, were recently choreographed by William Yong for the National Ballet of Canda’s UtopiVerse, which received its world premiere in March 2024.

In early 2024 Olaf Schmidt also choreographed Britten’s chamber music. An excerpt from Colin Matthews’ orchestration of the Temporal Variations, originally for oboe and piano, features as part of Das Innerste des Schweigens at Theater Lüneburg, a dance piece inspired by Virginia Woolf’s use of stream-of-consciousness in her novels. Matthews’ orchestration of the 15-minute work was created for Nicholas Daniel, realising Britten’s hint in 1935 that he was gestating a “large and elaborate suite for oboe and strings”. See the trailer for Das Innerste des Schweigens here.