Among the public tributes to the late Sir Michael Tippett (1905-1998), until a short while ago Britain’s foremost living composer, his contributions to the recorder have not so far featured.
He was Director of Morley College in South London 1941-52. As a conscientious objector during the war years (jailed briefly), he was able to promote adult musical education while recorder pioneers such as Edgar Hunt and Carl Dolmetsch were in the Forces and in war production. Some of Edgar Hunt’s pre-war pupils at Trinity College migrated to Morley College for classes with the late Walter Bergmann (a refugee from Nazi Germany). During that time Tippett himself contributed to the revival of the instrument by including it in his orchestral performances of early music especially Purcell. A performance of Purcell’s “Ode for St Cecilia’s Day” conducted by Tippett with recorders in the orchestra is remembered as a stage in the instrument’s revival. In the 1950s Bergmann and Tippett were general editors of a series of Schott publications marking the Purcell revival.. Tippett’s Second String Quartet was dedicated to Bergmann. His “Four Inventions for Descant and Treble Recorder” were published for the SRP by Schott in 1954. In 1995 Sir Michael gave permission for the Negro Spirituals from his oratorio “A Child of Our Time” (1941) to be arranged by Anne Martin for the National Recorder Festival in Haslemere.
Sir Michael Tippett was President of the Society of Recorder Players from 1977. The Society is grateful for its long association with Sir Michael Tippett OM and is thankful for the life and work of this great British composer.