Britten moved home from The Old Mill in Snape to Crag House in Aldeburgh in 1947 at the same time as he was setting up the English Opera Group with Peter Pears, Eric Crozier and John Piper. The same year, while on tour in Europe, Pears suggested setting up a festival closer to home:
'Why not make our own Festival? A modest Festival with a few concerts given by friends? Why not have an Aldeburgh Festival?'
The first Aldeburgh Festival took place in June 1948. At first it used local halls and churches, such as Jubilee Hall and the Parish Church in Aldeburgh and churches in the towns of Orford, Blythburgh and Framlingham. Over the next two decades Aldeburgh Festival outgrew these small venues, having attracted a highly enthusiastic audience from the local community and beyond.
In 1967, Britten and Pears created a permanent home at Snape, five miles from Aldeburgh. Having originally explored a Victorian maltings building as a possible place to store opera scenery, they quickly saw its far greater potential and converted it into an 832-seat venue. Snape Maltings Concert Hall has since become one of the UK’s best-loved concert halls and the permanent home of Britten’s living legacy, alongside venues in and around Aldeburgh.
Within five years of creating the concert hall, Britten and Pears had reclaimed more buildings on the Snape Maltings site to establish a centre for talented young musicians. Long before arts organisations thought of engaging in education and supporting young artists, Britten and Pears established both. They brought together international stars and emerging talent, including world-renowned figures such as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Yehudi Menuhin, Sviatoslav Richter and Mstislav Rostropovich, and young stars in the making such as Murray Perahia and Julian Bream.