A companion to Tippett’s music

Today the composer Michael Tippett, who joined the trespassers on Kinder Scout in 1932, would have been 113 years old.  


The Kinder trespassers set off from Hayfield

In celebration, Radio 3 invited listeners to Essential Classics this morning to nominate music which would make a suitable companion to the five negro spirituals* from Tippett’s oratorio, A Child of Our Time.  This sombre work was inspired by the persecution of the Jews and was published in 1941.

I studied those spirituals for music O level and remember learning how in Tippett’s oratorio they served the purpose of the chorales in Bach’s oratorios, notably the St John Passion.   They punctuate the text and provide a familiar landmark to lighten the gravity of the work and enable you to find your bearings.

Therefore, I volunteered the St John Passion to Radio 3 as a companion piece (by email, text and twitter).  Unfortunately the presenter, Ian Skelly, did not select my suggestion.  However, he did mention a comment from another listener who said that apparently Tippett used spirituals as the equivalent of Bach’s chorales, so the point was made.


* The spirituals are: Steal away; Nobody knows the trouble I see, Lord; Go down, Moses; O, by and by, and Deep River.





About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
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