Although Michael Tippett published an autobiography of sorts in 1994 (Twentieth Century Blues), it was mainly dictated to his last and long-time partner Meirion (Bill) Bowen and proved to be as idiosyncratic as the man himself. Deemed by himself to be a late starter as a composer, he withdrew most of his early work, regarding it to be juvenilia. In fact, it would not be until around the age of 30 that he started to write the works for which he became known and noted – starting with his First String Quartet and the popular Concerto for Double String Orchestra. The work for which he is primarily known internationally, A Child of our Time, would be written a short time later, during the Second World War. This was probably the most vexing time of his long life, a time during which he would be sent to prison as a conscientious objector.

Sir Michael Tippett lived almost as long as the 20th century. Born in 1905 in a gaslit Britain, he would still be around to give his views on the events...

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