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Friday, January 9, 1998 Published at 21:08 GMT


Great British composer dies at 93
image: [ His wartime oratorio, A Child Of Our Time, reflected his pacifist views ]
His wartime oratorio, A Child Of Our Time, reflected his pacifist views

Excerpt from Tippett's Fantasie Concertante on a Theme of Corelli (19'')
Sir Michael Tippett, one of the 20th century's greatest British composers, has died aged 93.

At one time his music was thought difficult to play and to listen to but latterly he was acknowledged as a master of his art.

Composer and conductor Michael Barclay remembers Tippett as a "Beethovenian man" (3'00'')
Born on January 2, 1905 in London, he lived for music even as a child.

He went to the Royal College of Music in London but his early career was a struggle - made more difficult by his radical political views.

Sir Michael was briefly imprisoned as a conscientious objector, and his wartime oratorio 'A Child of Our Time' reflected its composer's pacifist beliefs.

[ image: As a young man he was a conscientious objector]
As a young man he was a conscientious objector
The piece used American Negro spirituals to convey the depth of suffering of Jewish victims of the Nazis. It was the work of which he was most proud.

His five operas, including 'The Midsummer Marriage', helped to make him famous.

He mixed abstract ideas with slang and popular catch-phrases.

Sir Michael once described the effect music had on him. "It has such an extraordinary power and it wraps you around. If I hear it in my head or coming from the television, anywhere, it's effect is quite immediate," he said.

He was still composing when he was 90 and remained astonishingly youthful and energetic.

[ image: Sir Michael of Britain's greatest composers]
Sir Michael of Britain's greatest composers
Like many British composers he loved the English countryside. He was an individualist who went his own way as a musician - as one fan put it a "dreamer of extraordinary dreams".

Sir Michael, who was president of the Society of Recorder Players, was awarded the Order of Merit and made a CBE.

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