The Selected Letters of Michael Tippett by Thomas Schuttenhelm (ed) - review by Patrick O’Connor

Patrick O’Connor

A Knotty Composer

The Selected Letters of Michael Tippett


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The centenary of Michael Tippett's birth this year has prompted many concerts, revivals of at least three of his operas, and grumbling attempts by some critics at a reassessment of his music. It is far too soon for this, since Tippett died only in 1998 and was still active until a couple of years before then, his last major work, The Rose Lake, having been given its premiere in February 1995.

Tippett's long life saw him move from being a diffident, somewhat shambolic figure, veering between obsessions with psychoanalysis and communism, to the elegant patriarch who retained his youthful enthusiasm into old age. In the 1920s and 1930s he struggled with his never-repressed homosexuality and the sometimes unfriendly reactions of his

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