Five African American Spirituals and Michael Tippett's 'A Child of Our Time'

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The orchestral and choral compositions of Michael Tippett often displayed his commitment to themes of social justice and political emancipation. What is little understood about his masterwork, A Child of Our Time, is its origin in the assassination of an obscure German diplomat by a German Jewish émigré in Paris in 1938, which also marked the beginning of Kristallnacht and so on to the final solution of the ‘Jewish problem’. Struggling with motifs to exemplify his commitment to a universal emancipated humanity, he discovered, for the first time, a set of African American spirituals which, in their very essence, pointed the path to liberation both artistically and also practically. Incorporating the spirituals into his work in the ‘midnight of the century’ of the Holocaust created perhaps the greatest avant-garde political/musical statement of the twentieth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-81
JournalRace and Class
Issue number2
Early online date18 Sept 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

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