Benjamin Britten visited North America in April 1939, and found more than he hoped for. He came from Britain to perform and present some of his compositions in Canada and the U.S. What was initially planned as a relatively short trip ended up lasting several years. War broke out in Europe while he was away, and he decided for a long time not to come back to England. Since he was 26 yo, he would have had to enlist in the military in some form (he ended up coming back to England in 1942 and claimed a "conch" --conscientious objector-- status).

But most importantly, during the trip in June'39, Britten and his traveling companion, the tenor Peter Pears, started the love affair that lasted forty years until Britten passed away, in 1976. There is a hotel room in Grand Rapids, MI, that is a place of pilgrimage for gay musicians, where they supposedly consummated their union. Pears wrote later: "I shall never forget a certain night in Grand Rapids — Ich liebe dich, io t’amo, jeg elske dyg(?), je t’aime, in fact, my little white-thighed beauty, I’m terribly in love with you." How mushy. Little white-thighed beauty? But Britten was a Brit, of course his legs were white.