Britain Mints New Coin for Benjamin Britten Centennial

Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - 02:02 PM

Great Britain is minting a new 50 pence coin to commemorate the centenary of the birth of composer Benjamin Britten.

Engraved on the coin are poet Alfred Lord Tennyson's lines "Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying," which Britten put to music in the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings.

The design, by coin sculptor Tom Phillip, also shows Britten's name, framed by a double stave in recognition of his virtuosic piano skills. It is said to be the first time a person other than the Queen will have their full name featured on a 50p coin.

The Royal Mint said the coin will be available to collectors on September 27 and will go into general circulation on November 22.

This is not the first time a composer has appeared on British currency: Edward Elgar – with his bushy mustache – was the face on the 20 pound note from 1999 to 2010.

The recent changes to Britain's currency – which include the planned addition of Jane Austen to the 10-pound note – have inspired our colleagues at Studio 360 to ask listeners to nominate great American artists for redesigned US currency.

With that in mind, tell us what you think: Is there a musician you’d like to see on a $1, $5, $10 or $20? Tell us below.


Detail of a new design for the $10, $20, and $50 bills featuring Emily Dickinson, Duke Ellington and Mark Twain - Dean Potter/Dollar Redesign Project

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Comments [3]

Bill C from Pennsylvania

So many fine choices available to the USA - Robert Frost, Richard Rodgers, George Gershwin, Louisa May Alcott, Pearl Buck, etc.

Sep. 10 2013 06:01 PM
Barry Owen Furrer

I would like to see John Philip Sousa honored in this way as he is the only American composer that I am aware of that has received official recognition from the government for two of his compositions; "Semper Fidelis" and the "The Stars & Stripes Forever." His 12-year tenure as director of the US Marine Band and 39-year career leading his own famous band playing over 15,500 concerts both here and abroad made him a household name the world over.

Sep. 05 2013 06:42 AM
Bernie from UWS

Duke Ellington is a natural choice. Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, John Cage and Leonard Bernstein could all be featured on our currency with no reservations. Left field choice: Henry Cowell!

Sep. 03 2013 05:38 PM

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