The final two matches for the English first round are Tippett versus Vaughan Williams and Elgar versus Finizi.
Michael Tippett was a contemporary of Benjamin Britten and William Walton. Tippett, as with Britten, was an avowed pacifist and ended up serving a three-month prison sentence in 1943 for “refusing to comply with conditions of exemption from active war service; he remained committed to the pacifist cause.”
What has come to be known as Tippett’s greatest composition was also from this war period. From 1939 to 1941 Tippett worked on his oratorio A Child of Our Time.
A Child of Our Time is based on the story of Herschel Grynszpan. Grynszpan was a 17 year-old Polish-German-Jewish refugee who walked into the German embassy in Paris in November of 1938. He shot and killed the junior German ambassador, Ernst vom Rath, and claimed to be acting on behalf of 12,000 persecuted Jews.
The event was used as an excuse for Nazi authorities to execute their “night of the broken glass” or Kristallnacht.
Tippett’s composition was timely and he received his first recognition as a composer outside of England.
I must admit that I got carried away with the story of Herschel Grynszpan and A child of Our Time. I was enamored with it until I listened to a recent performance of Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony.
A Sea Symphony was Vaughan Williams’ first achievement and it is stellar.
As much as I admire Tippett, Vaughan Williams is going to the next round.
World Cup of Composers: Rule Britannia