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Five Negro Spirituals from 'A Child of Our Time' : Work information

Michael (Kemp) Tippett ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Neil MacKenzie (Tenor), Carys Lane (Soprano), Robert Evans (Bass), Sally Bruce-Payne (Alto), Sixteen, Harry Christophers (Conductor)

This work

Work name
Five Negro Spirituals from 'A Child of Our Time'
Work number
1941-01-01 02:00:00

This recording

Mark Brown
Mike Hatch
Recording date
1994-01-01 02:00:00

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.

Track listing

  • Steal Away 2:47 min
  • Nobody knows 1:30 min
  • Go down, Moses 2:48 min
  • By and By 1:27 min
  • Deep River 3:32 min