English composer. With Benjamin Britten, he became the foremost English composer of his generation. His works include the operas The Midsummer Marriage (1952), The Knot Garden (1970), and New Year (1989); four symphonies; Songs for Ariel (1962); and choral music, including The Mask of Time (1982).
Tippett was born in London. He studied with Charles Wood and R O Morris at the Royal College of Music. He became conductor of educational organizations under the London County Council and music director at Morley College (1940–51), a post formerly held by Gustav Holst. During the war he was a conscientious objector and was imprisoned for refusing to help the war effort by working on the land. His oratorio A Child of our Time (1941) was written in response to the persecution of the Jews during the Nazi era. His first major success was with the Concerto for Double String Orchestra (1939); it was followed by the Fantasia Concertante on a theme of Corelli (1953). Tippett's early lyrical exuberance reached its peak in the opera The Midsummer Marriage and the associated piano concerto (1953–55). A sparer sound was achieved with the opera King Priam (1962) and second piano sonata, although by the time of The Knot Garden some reconciliation between his two earlier styles was achieved. In this context, his most significant later works are the Triple Concerto, the oratorio The Mask of Time, and the fifth string quartet. The Rose Lake for orchestra (1994) was announced as his last major work.
He acted as president of the Kent Opera Company (1979–98) and president of the London College of Music (1983–98).
Tippett was very deliberate and highly self-critical, so that his works appeared in slow succession, but always showed closely concentrated craftsmanship and great originality. Amid many contemporaries whose music could be described as static, one gains above all from Tippett's music a sense of movement.
WorksOpera five, including The Midsummer Marriage (1955), King Priam (1962), The Knot Garden (1970).
Choral oratorios A Child of our Time for soloists, chorus, and orchestra (1939–41), The Vision of St Augustine for baritone, chorus, and orchestra (1963–65) and The Mask of Time for soloists, chorus, and orchestra (1981–84).
Orchestral four symphonies (1944, 1957, 1972, 1976), concerto for double string orchestra (1939), concerto for orchestra, Fantasia concertante on a theme by Corelli (1953); piano concerto (1953–55), concerto for string trio and orchestra (1979).
Chamber and solo vocal five string quartets (1935, 1943, 1946, 1979, 1991); four piano sonatas (1938, 1962, 1973, 1979); cantata Boyhood's End for tenor and piano (from W H Hudson's Far Away and Long Ago, 1943).
Tippett, Michael (Kemp)
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