Remember me - echoes from the lost generations
Sir Michael Tippett

Born in 1905, Michael Tippett was only 13 at the end of the First World War but quite old enough to carry some vivid impressions of the time through into his adult life. As a result he remained very sensitive to world events. His horror at the events of Kristallnacht* was the catalyst for his oratorio A Child of Our Time and he began work on it in earnest on the day the Second World War was declared, in September 1939.

A Child of Our Time is a passionate protest against persecution and tyranny, heart-breakingly beautiful. Tippett believed that although his fellow composers seemed no longer moved to write music inspired by the crucifixion of Christ, the suffering of ordinary people in modern conflict could be an equally powerful creative stimulus. A Child of Our Time conveys his belief that we all need to know ourselves through and through in order to be able to move forward towards tolerance of others.

Click here to learn more about Tippett's inspiration for A Child of Our Time.

Sir Michael Tippett

Oratorios traditionally contain hymns that give a retrospective view of the story of Christ. For his work, Tippett chose five Negro spirituals, timeless expressions of human compassion and aspiration. The piece was first performed in 1944, so it was not just D-Day that had its 60th Anniversary in 2004!

Michael Tippett remained committed to pacifism throughout his life and was prepared to go to prison for his beliefs; in 1943 he was sentenced to three months for being a conscientious objector

*Kristallnacht (9th/10th November, 1938) was a violent attack on the Jews of Austria and Germany following the shooting of a German diplomat. Thousands of Jewish homes, businesses, schools, cemeteries and synagogues were pillaged and burned, and more than 30,000 Jews were arrested. The term 'Kristallnacht', by which the pogrom is now known, refers to the broken glass which covered the streets.


Your Turn!


Listen to 'A Child of Our Time'
'Go Down, Moses,' one of the Negro spirituals featured in the work can be found at - a different karaoke experience for you!


Make a list of any songs or music that were written as a response to war.
Here are some to start you off:

  • Motorhead: 1916 (used on the CWGC CD Rom One Boy)

  • Paul McCartney: Pipes of Peace

  • Ms. Dynamite and George Michael's rap version of 'Faith.'

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