Реферат: Culture of Great Britain
1 Artistic and cultural life in Britain.
2 Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren.
3 Westminster Abbey.
4 St. Paul’s Cathedral.
5 The Tower of London.
6 Festivals of music and drama.
7 The Bath Festival.
8 The Chichester Theatre Festival.
9 The Welsh Eisteddfod.
10 The Edinburg Festival.
11 The national musical instrument of the Scots.
12 Music and musicians.
13 Art Galleries.
14 The art of acting.
15 British Drama Theatre today.
CULTURE of GREAT BRITAIN
Artistic and Cultural Life in Britain
Artistic and cultural life in Britain is rather rich. It passed several main
stages in its development.
The Saxon King Alfred encouraged the arts and culture. The chief debt owed to
him by English literature is for his translations of and commentaries on
Latin works. Art, culture and literature flowered during the Elizabethan age,
during the reign of Elizabeth I; it was the period of English domination of
It was at this time that William Shakespeare lived.
The empire, which was very powerful under Queen Victoria, saw another
cultural and artistic hey-day as a result of industrialisation and the
expansion of international trade.
But German air raids caused much damage in the First World War and then
during the Second World War. The madness of the wars briefly interrupted the
development of culture.
Immigrants who have arrived from all parts of the Commonwealth since 1945
have not only created a mixture of nations, but have also brought their
cultures and habits with them. Monuments and traces of past greatness are
everywhere. There are buildings of all styles and periods. A great number of
museums and galleries display precious and interesting finds from all parts
of the world and from all stage in the development of nature, man and art.
London is one of the leading world centres for music, drama, opera and dance.
Festivals held in towns and cities throughout the country attract much
interest. Many British playwrights, composers, sculptors, painters, writers,
actors, singers and dancers are known all over the world.
Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren
Inigo Jones was the first man to bring the Italian Renaissance style to Great
Britain. He had studied in Italy for some years, and in 1615 became Surveyor-
General of the works.
The style he built in was pure Italian with as few modifications as possible.
His buildings were very un-English in character, with regularly spaced
columns along the front.
His two most revolutionary designs were the Banqueting House in Whitehall and
the Queen's House at Greenwich. The plan of the latter, completely
symmetrical, with its strict classical details and the principal rooms on the
first floor, influenced architecture in Britain. But not during the lifetime
of Inigo Jones. All those who followed him had to adapt this new foreign
building technique to English ways and English climate, English building
materials and English craftsmen.
Christopher Wren was the man who did it. He was a mathematician, an
astronomer and, above all, an inventor. He invented new ways of using
traditional English building materials, brick and ordinary roofing tiles, to
keep within the limits of classical design. He, like Inigo Jones, was
appointed Surveyor-General to the Crown when he was about thirty years old,
and almost immediately he started rebuilding the churches of London, burnt
down in the Great Fire of 1666. Wren's churches are chiefly known by their
beautiful spires, which show in their structure the greatest engineering
cunning.But Ch. Wren also influenced the design of houses, both in town and
in the country.The best-known buildings designed by Ch. Wren are St. Paul's
Cathedral in London and the Sheldonion Theatre in Oxford.
The period of the Industrial Revolution had no natural style of its own.
Businessmen wanted art for their money. The architect was to provide a facade
in the Gothic style, or he was to turn the building into something like a
Norman castle, or a Renaissance palace, or even an Oriental mosque. For
theatres and opera houses the theatrical Baroque style was often most
suitable. Churches were more often than not built in the Gothic style. The
twentieth century has seen great changes in Britain's architecture.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
It is safe to say that the three most famous buildings in England are
Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London and St. Paul's Cathedral.
St. Paul's Cathedral is the work of the famous architect Sir Christopher
Wren. It is said to be one of the finest pieces of architecture in Europe.
Work on Wren's masterpiece began in 1675 after a Norman church, old St.
Paul's, was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. For 35 years the building
of St. Paul's Cathedral went on, and Wren was an old mall before it was
From far away you can see the huge dome with a golden ball and cross on the
top. The interior of the Cathedral is very beautiful. It is fall of
monuments. The most important, perhaps, is the one dedicated to the Duke of
Wellington. After looking round you can climb 263 steps to the Whispering
Gallery, which runs round the dome. It is called so, because if someone
whispers close to the wall on one side, a person with his ear close to the
wall on the other side can hear what is said. But if you want to reach the
foot of the ball, you have to climb 637 steps.
As for Christopher Wren, who is now known as ‘the architect of London’, he
found his fame only after his death. He was buried in the Cathedral. Buried
here are Nelson, Wellington and Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Those who are interested in English architecture can study all the
architectural styles of the past 500 or 600 years in Cambridge. The Chapel of
King’s College is the most beautiful building in Cambridge and one of the
greatest Gothic buildings in Europe. It is built in the Perpendicular style.
Its foundation stone was laid in 1446, but it was completed sixty-nine years
later. The interior of the Chapel is a single lofty aisle and the stonework
of the walls is like lace. The Chapel has a wonderful fan-vaulting which is
typical of the churches of that time. We admire the skill of the architects
and crafts men who created all these wonderful buildings.
Westminster Abbey is a fine Gothic building, which stands opposite the Houses
of Parliament. It is the work of many hands and different ages. The oldest
part of the building dates from the eighth century. It was a monastery - the
West Minster. In the 11th century Edward the Confessor after years spent in
France founded a great Norman Abbey. In 200 years Henry III decided to pull
down the Norman Abbey and build a more beautiful one after the style then
balling in France. Since then the Abbey remains the most French of all
English Gothic churches, higher than any other English church (103 feet) and
much narrower. The towers were built in 1735-1740. One of the greater glories
of the Abbey is the Chapel of Henry VII, with its delicate fan-vaulting. The
Chapel is of stone and glass, so wonderfully cut and sculptured that it seems
unreal. It contains an interesting collection of swords and standards of the
‘Knights of the Bath’. The Abbey is famous for its stained glass.
Since the far-off time of William the Conqueror Westminster Abbey has been
the crowning place of the kings and queens of England. The Abbey is sometimes
compared with a mausoleum, because there are tombs and memorials of almost
all English monarchs, many statesmen, famous scientists, writers and
If you go past the magnificent tombstones of kings and queens, some made of
gold and precious stones, past the gold-and-silver banners of the Order of
the Garter, which are hanging from the ceiling, you will come to Poets’
Corner. There many of the greatest writers are buried: Geoffrey Chaucer,
Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, Thomas Hardy and Rudyard
Kipling. Here too, though these writers are not buried in Westminster Abbey,
are memorials to William Shakespeare and John Milton, Burns and Byron, Walter
Scott, William Makepeace Thackeray and the great American poet Henry
Here in the Abbey there is also the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a symbol of
the nation’s grief. The inscription on the tomb reads: ‘Beneath this stone
rests the body of a British Warrior unknown by name or rank brought from
France to lie among the most illustrious of the land...’
In the Royal Air Force Chapel there is a monument to those who died during
the Battle of Britain, the famous and decisive air battle over the territory
of Britain in the Second World War.
The Tower of London
The Tower on the north bank of the Thames is one of the most ancient buildings
of London. It was founded in the 11th century by William the
Conqueror. But each monarch left some kind of personal mark on it. For many
centuries the Tower has been a fortress, a palace, a prison and royal treasury.
It is now a museum of arms and armour and as one of the strongest fortresses in
Britain, it has the Crown Jewels.
The grey stones of the Tower could tell terrible stories of violence and
injustice. Many sad and cruel events took place within the walls of the
Tower. It was here that Thomas More, the great humanist, was falsely accused
and executed. Among famous prisoners executed at the Tower were Henry VIII's
wives Ann Boleyn and Catherine Howard.
When Queen Elizabeth was a princess, she was sent to the Tower by Mary Tudor
(‘Bloody Mary’) and kept prisoner for some time.
The ravens whose forefathers used to find food in the Tower still live here
as part of its history. There is a legend that if the ravens disappear the
Tower will fall. That is why the birds are carefully guarded.
The White Tower was built by William the Conqueror to protect and control the
City of London. It is the oldest and the most important building, surrounded
by other towers, which all have different names.
The Tower is guarded by the Yeomen Warders, popularly called ‘Beefeaters’.
There are two letters, E.R., on the front of their tunics. They stand for the
Queen's name Elizabeth Regina. The uniform is as it used to be in Tudor
Their everyday uniform is black and red, but on state occasions they wear a
ceremonial dress: fine red state uniforms with the golden and black stripes
and the wide lace collar, which were in fashion in the 16th century.
Every night at 10 p.m. at the Tower of London the Ceremony of the Keys or
locking up of the Tower for the nigh takes place. It goes back to the Middle
Ages. Five minutes before the hour the Headwarder comes out with a bunch of
keys and an old lantern. He goes to the guardhouse and cries: ‘Escort for the
keys’. Then he closes the three gates and goes to the sentry, who calls:
‘Halt, who comes there?’ Headwarder replies: ‘The Keys’. ‘Whose Keys?’
demands the sentry. ‘Queen Elizabeth's Keys’, comes the answer. ‘Advance
Queen Elizabeth's Keys. All's well’. The keys are finally carried to the
Queen's House where they are safe for the night. After the ceremony everyone
who approaches the gate must give the password or turn away.
Festivals of Music and Drama
Post-war years have witnessed a significant increase in the number of
festivals of music and drama though not enough has been done to involve the
general public in these activities. Some of the festivals, however, are
widely popular and it is with these that the book deals. A number of other
festivals of music and drama, less well known but sufficiently important to
be mentioned, are also included in the list below.
The Bath Festival
The number of festivals held in Britain every summer goes on and on
increasing but few are as well established or highly thought of, particularly
in the wider European scene, as the Bath Festival.
In June when the city is at its most beautiful the festival attracts some of
the finest musicians in the world to Bath, as well as thousands of visitors
from Britain and abroad.
Under the artistic direction of Sir Michael Tippett, composer, conductor and one
of the greatest minds in British music today, the festival presents a programme
of orchestral and choral concerts, song and instrumental recitals and chamber
music, so well suited to the beautiful 18th - century halls of Bath.
The range of music included is wide and young performers are given
opportunities to work with some of the leading names in their fields.
But the festival is not all music. The programme usually includes lectures
and exhibitions, sometimes ballet, opera, drama, or films, as well as tours
of Bath and the surrounding area and houses not normally open to the public,
often a costume ball, maybe poetry - the variety is endless.
Much goes on in the city at festival time and many organisations produce a
bewildering complexity of events to cater for all tastes from bicycle races
and beer gardens to a mammoth one day festival of folk and blues.
The Chichester Theatre Festival
The fame achieved by the Edinburgh Festival, to say nothing of the large
number of visitors that it brings every year to the Scottish capital, has
encouraged many other towns in Britain to organise similar festivals. Those
at Bath, Cheltenham and Aldeburgh have all become considerable artistic
successes, even if they haven't brought as much business to these towns as
the local shopkeepers had hoped for.
The latest festival town to join the list is Chichester, which has earned a
great deal of prestige by building, in record time, a large theatre holding
over one thousand five hundred people. Here will be held each year a theatre
festival in which many stars from the London stage will be eager to
The first season scored a considerable success. The repertoire consisted of
an old English comedy, a sixteenth- century tragedy and a production of
Chekhov's “Uncle Vanya” in which every part was taken by a top star.
But the chief interest of the Chichester Festival is the new theatre itself,
which has an apron stage. Most of you will know that the apron stage, which
was common in Shakespeare's day, projects out into the auditorium. With an
apron stage there is no proscenium arch, or stage sets of the kind we are
used to in the modern theatre. This calls for the use of an entirely
different technique on the part both of the players, who have their audience
on three sides of them instead of just in front, and the producer. The
players must make proper use of their voices, which, to a generation
accustomed to mumbling into microphones, is not easy.
Chichester itself is a small country town in the heart of Sussex, and the
theatre stands on the edge of a beautiful park. Unlike Glyndebourne where the
entire audience wears evening dress, the clothes worn by the audience at
Chichester are much less formal; but as the festival is held in the summer
the pretty frocks of the women make an attractive picture as they stand and
gossip outside the theatre during the intervals, or snatch hasty refreshments
from their cars in the park.
The Welsh Eisteddfod
No country in the world has a greater love of music and poetry than the
people of Wales. Today, Eisteddfod is held at scores of places throughout
Wales, particularly from May to early November. The habit of holding similar
events dates back to early history and there are records of competitions for
Welsh poets and musicians in the twelfth century. The Eisteddfod sprang from
the Gorsedd, or National Assembly of Bards. It was held occasionally up to
1819, but since then has become an annual event for the encouragement of
Welsh literature and music and the preservation of the Welsh language and
ancient national customs.
The Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales is held annually early in August, in
North and South Wales alternately, its actual venue varying from year to
year. It attracts Welsh people from all over the world. The programme
includes male and mixed choirs, brass-band concerts, many children's events,
drama, arts and crafts and, of course, the ceremony of the Crowning of the
Next in importance is the great Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod,
held early in July and attended by competitors from many countries, all
wearing their picturesque and often colourful national costumes. It is an
event probably without parallel anywhere in the world. There are at least
twenty-five other major Eisteddfods from May to November.
In addition to the Eisteddfod, about thirty major Welsh Singing Festivals are
held throughout Wales from May until early November.
The Edinburgh Festival
It is a good thing that the Edinburgh Festival hits the Scottish Capital
outside term time. Not so much because the University hostels - and
students’digs - are needed of provide accommodation for Festival visitors but
because this most exhilarating occasion allows no time for anything mundane.
It gives intelligent diversion for most of the twenty - four hours each
weekday in its three weeks (it is not tactful to ask about Sundays - you
explore the surrounding terrain then). The programmes always include some of
the finest chamber music ensemble and soloists in the world. There are plenty
of matinees; evening concerts, opera, drama and ballet performances usually
take place at conventional times - but the floodlit Military Tattoo at
Edinburgh Castle obviously doesn't start till after dusk, and late night
entertainments and the Festival Club can take you into the early hours of the
In recent years, about 90,000 people have flocked into Edinburgh every year
during the three weeks at the end of August and early September. The 90,000,
of course, does not include the very large numbers of people who discover
pressing reasons for visiting their Edinburgh relations about this time, nor
the many thousands who come into the city on day trips from all over the
They wouldn't all come, year after year, to a city bursting to capacity if
they didn't find the journey eminently worth-while. They find in Edinburgh
Festival the great orchestras and soloists of the world, with top-class opera
thrown in; famous ballet companies, art exhibitions and leading drama; the
Tattoo, whose dramatic colour inspires many a hurried claim to Scottish
Since the Festival started in 1947 as a gesture of the Scottish renaissance
against post-war austerity, much has blossomed around it. Every hall in the
city is occupied by some diversion: and you may find Shakespeare by
penetrating an ancient close off the Royal Mile, or plain-song in a local
church. "Fringe" events bring performing bodies from all over Britain and
beyond, and student groups are always prominent among them, responsible often
for interesting experiments in the drama. Then there is the International
Film Festival, bringing documentaries from perhaps 30 countries; Highland
Games, and all sorts of other ploys from puppet to photo shows.
The National Musical Instrument of the Scots
The bagpipe was known to the ancient civilisations of the Near East. It was
probably introduced into Britain by the Romans. Carvings of bagpipe players
on churches and a few words about them in the works of Chaucer and other
writers show that it was popular all over the country in the Middle Ages. Now
bagpipes can be seen and head only in the northern counties of England, in
Ireland and in Scotland where it was introduced much later. Bagpipes have
been used ill most European countries. It is also native to India and China.
In Scotland the bagpipe is first recorded in the 16th century during the
reign of James I, who was a very good player, and probably did much to make
it popular. For long it has been considered a national Scottish instrument.
The sound of the bagpipes is very stirring. The old Highland clans and later
the Highland regiments used to go into battle to the sound of the bagpipes.
The bagpipe consists of a reed pipe, the ‘chanter’, and a windbag, which
provides a regular supply of air to the pipe. The windpipe is filled either
from the mouth or by a bellows, which the player works with his arm. The
chanter has a number of holes or keys by means of which the tune is played.
Music and Musicians
The people living in the British Isles are very fond of music, and it is
quite natural that concerts of the leading symphony orchestras, numerous
folic groups and pop music are very popular.
The Promenade concerts are probably the most famous. They were first held in
1840 in the Queen's Hall, and later were directed by Sir Henry Wood. They
still continue today in the Royal Albert Hall. They take place every night
for about three months in the summer, and the programmes include new and
contemporary works, as well as classics. Among them are symphonies and other
pieces of music composed by Benjamin Britten, the famous English musician.
Usually, there is a short winter season lasting for about a fortnight. The
audience may either listen to the music from a seat or from the ‘promenade’,
where they can stand or stroll about, or, if there is room, sit down on the
Concerts are rarely given out-of-doors today except for concerts by brass
bands and military bands that play in the parks and at seaside resorts during
Folk music is still very much alive. There are many foul groups. Their
harmony singing and good humour win them friends everywhere.
Rock and pop music is extremely popular, especially among younger people. In
the 60s and 70s groups such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Led
Zeppelin and Pink Floyd became very popular and successful.
The Beatles, with their style of singing new and exciting, their wonderful
sense of humour became the most successful pop group the world has ever
known. Many of the famous songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney are
still popular. Some of the more recent rock groups are Eurhythmics, Dire
Straits, and Black Sabbath.
British groups often set new trends in music. New staff and styles continue
to appear. One of the most popular contemporary musicians and composers is
Andrew Lloyd Webber. The musicals and rock operas by A. L. Webber have been a
great success both in Britain and overseas.
The famous English composer of the 19th century was Arthur Sullivan. Together
with William Gilbert, the writer of the texts, he created fourteen operettas
of which eleven are regularly performed today. In these operettas the English
so successfully laugh at themselves and at what they now call the
Establishment that W. S. Gilbert and A. Sullivan will always be remembered.
If you stand in Trafalgar Square with your back to Nelson's Column, you will see
a wide horizontal front in a classical style. It is the National Gallery. It
has been in this building since 1838 which was built as the National Gallery to
house the collection of Old Masters Paintings (38 paintings) offered to
the nation by an English Private collector, Sir George Beamount.
Today the picture galleries of the National Gallery of Art exhibit works of
all the European schools of painting, which existed between the 13th and
19th centuries. The most famous works among them are ‘Venus and Cupid’ by
Diego Velazquez, ‘Adoration of the Shepherds’ by Nicolas Poussin, ‘A Woman
Bathing’ by Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt, ‘Lord Heathfield’ by Joshua
Reynolds, ‘Mrs Siddons’ by Thomas Gainsborough and many others.
In 1897 the Tate Gallery was opened to house the more modern British
paintings. Most of the National Gallery collections of British paintings were
transferred to the Tate, and only a small collection of a few masterpieces is
now exhibited at Trafalgar Square. Thus, the Tate Gallery exhibits a number
of interesting collections of British and foreign modern painting and also
The collection of Turner’s paintings at the Tate includes about 300 oils and
19,000 watercolours and drawings. He was the most traditional artist of his
time as well as the most original: traditional in his devotion to the Old
Masters and original in his creation of new styles. It is sometimes said
that he prepared the way for the Impressionists.
The modern collection includes the paintings of Henri Matisse and Pablo
Picasso, Marc Chagall and Salvador Dali, Francis Bacon and Graham Sutherland,
Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton, the chief pioneers of pop art in Great
Britain. Henry Moore is a famous British sculptor whose works are exhibited
at the Tate too. One of the sculptor's masterpieces - the ‘Reclining Figure’
- is at fees Headquarters of UNESCO in Paris.
The Art of Acting
From the fall of the Roman Empire until the 10th century, acting hardly
existed as an art in Western Europe; only the wandering minstrels gave
entertainment in castles and at fairs. In England, the first real actors were
amateurs who performed Miracle and Morality plays, which were religious in
character. In the Elizabethan age, the first professional theatres were
opened. At the time of Shakespeare there were at least six companies of
actors. Shakespeare himself joined the Earl of Leisester's company, which
under James I became known as the ‘King's Men’. There were also companies of
boy actors. All the women's parts were played by boys. It was very difficult
for most actors to earn a living on the stage, even in a London company, and
many of them fell into debt. When Shakespeare arrived in London in 1586, the
acting was very crude and conventional. There was almost no scenery, and the
actors were dressed in the costumes of their day. But when ‘The Globe’ was
opened to the public in 1599, it started the golden age of the theatre in
In the first half of the 17th century the influence of the Puritans was bad
for the popular theatre, and it was not before the restoration of the
monarchy in 1660 that theatre going again became a popular habit. The most
popular plays were comedies. The first part played by an actress was that of
Desdemona. Nell Gwynn was the first English actress.
By the beginning of the 18th century the most popular type of play was the
sentimental comedy. The acting was artificial probably due to the influence
of French actors.
But, later, under the influence of David Garrick and some other actors,
acting became much more naturalistic. David Garrick was one of the greatest
actors known. But even at his time acting was not very popular. An actor
whose acting had offended the audience had to ask pardon on his knees before
a full house before he could continue in his profession. During the 19th
century acting became more and more naturalistic. Like in Shakespeare's time,
the best actors understood the importance of the teamwork of the company. One
of the most famous actors of that time was Henry Irving. He was the first
actor to be knighted. By the 1920s naturalistic acting reached a peak in the
performance of Sir Gerald Du Maurier. He hardly appeared to be acting at all.
At present most acting still continues to be naturalistic. Designers make the
settings as realistic as possible. Modern producers and directors Peter Hall,
Peter Brook and others are trying out new styles of acting. Some go back to
Greek methods, with a revival of the chorus; others are making use of the
audience in helping to interpret the play.
British Drama Theatre Today
Britain is now one of the world's major theatres centres. Many British actors
and actresses are known all over the world. They are Dame Peggy Ashcroft,
Glenda Jackson, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and others.
Drama is so popular with people of all ages that there are several thousand
amateur dramatic societies. Now Britain has about 300 professional theatres.
Some of them are privately owned. The tickets are not hard to get, but they
are very expensive. Regular seasons of opera and ballet are given at the
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London. The National Theatre stages
modern and classical plays, the Royal Shakespeare Company produces plays
mainly by Shakespeare and his contemporaries when it performs in Stratford-
on-Avon, and modern plays in its two auditoria in the City's Barbican Centre.
Shakespeare's Globe Playhouse, about which you have probably read, was
reconstructed on its original site. Many other cities and large towns have at
least one theatre.
There are many theatres and theatre companies for young people: the National
Youth Theatre and the Young Vic Company in London, the Scottish Youth Theatre
in Edinburgh. The National Youth Theatre, which stages classical plays mainly
by Shakespeare and modern plays about youth, was on tour in Russian in 1989.
The theatre-goers warmly received the production of Thomas Stearns Eliot’s
play ‘Murder in the Cathedral’. Many famous English actors started their
careers in the National Youth Theatre. Among them Timothy Dalton, the actor
who did the part of Rochester in ‘ Jane Eyre’ shown on TV in our country.
reign - царствование
expansion - расширение
chiefly - главным образом, в основном
grief - горе
dedicate - посвящать
fan - vaulting - веерный ребристый свод
royal treasury - королевское казначейство
devotion - преданность
earn - зарабатывать
out - of - doors - на открытом воздухе
brass band - духовой оркестр
military band - военный оркестр
bagpipe - волынка
chanter - верхний голос
windbag - мешок перемотки
complexity - сложность
obviously - очевидно
flock - стекаться
worth - while - стоящий
gesture - жест
ploy - развлечение