Festal Brass with Blues : Work information

Michael (Kemp) Tippett ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
London Collegiate Brass, James Stobart (Conductor)

This work

Work name
Festal Brass with Blues
Work number
1984-01-01 02:00:00

This recording

Simon Lawman
Bob Auger
Recording date
1985-06-10 00:00:00

Track listing

  • 12:44 min


Festal Brass with Blues was written for the Hong Kong Festival of 1984 where it was performed by the Fairey Band under Howard Williams.

Based on part of Tippett's Third Symphony from 1972, Festal Brass is a complex and varied feast of colour, texture and timbre. The outer sections are virtuosic brass realisations of some of the more energetic parts of the symphony while the middle section reproduces the solo blues singer section on a solitary cornet. A tranquil coda, interrupted one last time by the energetic triplet rhythms, ends with questioning uncertainty.

The Composers

Michael (Kemp) Tippett

Born in London, he studied at the Royal College of Music, taking composition from Wood, piano from Raymar and conducting from Boult and Sargent. Taught and conducted after graduating in 1928, leading the South London Orchestra between 1933 and 1940, subsequently serving as director of music at the orchestra’s home, Morley College. One of his first major works was to prove his most popular; A Child of our Time (1941) was an oratorio inspired by current events, specifically the assassination of a German politician by a Jewish boy in 1938. This storyline was augmented by Tippett’s inclusion of arrangements of religious African-American songs; the Five Negro Spirituals are frequently performed separately.

Tippett’s political convictions had serious repercussions; as a conscientious objector he refused to further the war effort even outside the army. As a result he spent two months in Wormwood Scrubs prison in 1943. He regained the respect of the establishment after the war with activity with the BBC and the direction of the Bath Festival between 1969 and 1974. He received a CBE in 1959 and was knighted in 1966.

Romantic without the conservatism that might imply in a post-war composer, Tippett’s music is lyrical and frequently grand. His Concerto for Double String Orchestra (1939) and his Fantasia Concertanti on a Theme by Corelli (1953) are among his most popular orchestral works, and his operas, for which he writes his own libretti, have had international success.