Tippett, born in London in 1905, studied music at the Royal College before embarking on an early career as a composer, supported by work with the orchestra and choir of Morley College in South London, tasks that he found socially relevant. His idiosyncratic style developed relatively slowly, to flower in a series of remarkable operas, for which he provided his own libretti. Public recognition came with a knighthood in 1966 and appointment as a Companion of Honour in 1979.
Tippett's first important opera, The Midsummer Marriage, was staged at Covent Garden in 1955, followed six years later by King Priam, The Knot Garden in 1970 and The Ice Break in 1977, all of them, in one way or another, exploring a world illuminated by Jungian theories of psychology.
Well known orchestral music includes a Concerto for Double String Orchestra, a Triple Concerto, Little Music for Strings and a Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli, as well as four symphonies. Tippett's debt to English tradition is heard in his Divertimento on Sellinger's Round, using an Elizabethan melody.
Vocal and Choral Music
Tippett's A Child of Our Time seemed highly relevant to the state of the world at the time of its completion in 1941. Other remarkable and moving choral works include The Vision of St. Augustine, completed in 1965. Among solo songs or song cycles The Heart's Assurance, settings of poems by Sidney Keyes and Alun Lewis, is of central importance.
Tippett's chamber music includes five string quartets that reflect developments in his style, with four piano sonatas.