Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Research Paper on Michael Tippett

Research Paper on Michael Tippett

Michael Tippett was born in a London Nursing home on the 2nd of January 1905; but in the same year his parents moved from Eastcote to the small Suffolk village of Wethrden, not far from Stowmarket, and it was there that he spent the formative years of his boyhood.

In 1922 when he was seventeen, Tippett went with a school party to his first symphony concert. It was at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester, and the conductor was an old Stamfordian, Malcom Sargent. The program included Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, then still quite new. This concert made an overwhelming impression. It was at that point that Tippett decided that he was going to be a composer. He then ventured to teach himself until he convinced his parents to let him go to the Royal College of Music. There he studied composition, first under Charles Wood, who made a remarkable impact on him by introducing him to Bethoven. His years at College were a great period of learning; but he benifited less from the formal instruction he got from his teachers than from suddenly being exposed to so much that was new to him.


Tppett was very taken with Beethoven and threw himself into studying all his works. Tippett himself commented:

"When I was a student I submitted entirely to the music of Beethoven.
I explored his music so exhausively that for a long time later
On I listened to every other music but his."

Beethoven represented for him an ideal in his attitude to life, and as a composer. All the dominant attributes of Beethoven's music, its dynamic energy, its all-embracing humanism, its passionate spiritual questing, are those of Tippett's also.

These years at College where not only crucial in developing his musical styles but they were years where Tippett developed his love of Liturature and Philosophy.

After graduating, Tippett undertook many various positions including school teaching which he quickly disguarded. However nothing really grabed him. All he wanted to do was compose, but even in this he wasn't liking anything that he was writing. So he approached R.O. Morris, a composer and specialist in Sixteenth century counterpoint who agreed to take him on as a private pupil; and he embarked for the next eighteen months on a comprehensive and rigouros study of fugue. It was after his period of study with Morris that he found his direction as a composer.

In September 1939 Tippett began work on the music of A Child of our Time, modeled on Handel's Messiah. This ended up taking years to write because of the outbreak of the Second World War.

After the war and all the dramas that came with that including doing some time in prision, Tippett settled down to write his first opera. It was inevitable that Tippett should come to compose an opera. Modern Music describes opera as "a means by which, when all elements are working together, can move us with an almost magic power." This medium was perfect for a composer who was concerned to bring us through his art to a deeper understanding of ourselves. Tippett had gained much practical experience with his ballad operas Robin Hood and The Village Opera that he arranged in collaboration with Christopher Fry in the late thirties.

The influences behind The Midsummer Marriage are numerus, both in a Musical and a Philosophical sense. As we previously noticed, the shaping influence of A Child of Our Time was Handel's Messiah and also The Bach Passions. In Tippett's opera The Midsummer Marriage, the influences firstly from a liturary point of view, was primarily from Shakespear's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The basic dramatic idea of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the interaction between the natural and supernatural worlds and the resolution by supernatural means of the complications attending the two pairs of lovers, is also that of The Midsummer Marriage.

Musically Tippett was influenced by the Neo-classic move. Tippett embraced and gained an understanding of Neo Classism from English music of the past, the Elizabethan Madrigalist and Purcell above all. He never participated in the anti-romantic reaction, and his works exhibit both a positive engagement with tradition and a willingness to deal with social and philosophical issues. This comes out very strongly in The Midsummer Marriage . Tippett has an instinctive understanding of the English music of the sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries that has ripened with experience to a profound sympathy.

His rhythm is perhaps coloured a little by the influence of Stravinsky and Bartok, but owes far more to his study of the cross rhythms of the Madrigalists, the dance and the word setting of Purcell. As with all true rhythm it is highly expressive because it always serves a deeply felt melodic line of which it is the organising vehicle. His harmonic sense is probably his weakest asset, yet the driving power of his rhythm gives to his music a strong feeling of line. These musical applications will become more apparent when we look more closely and listen to the opera.

Tippet once said:
"Music deals with the imaginative processes of the inner world: feelings, qualities, dreams". (Tippet. Music of the Angels:pge 28)

It was this belief that led him to base his first opera on the philosophical stance of Carl Jung. The influence of Jung is traceable in Tippett's general attitude towards all of his works. But nowhere is the resemblance of Tippett's thought to Jung more striking than in The Midsummer Marriage. Jung's fundamental principal in the study of psychology is that:

"Consciousness and the unconcious are related to each other in a reciprocity where each consious element has its unconcious conterpart of an opposite yet compensatory character. Their constant interplay engenders the kaleidoscopic dynamics which in the course of any individual existance create the individual biography."
(Jung. "Psyche and Symbol". Page 23)

Jung's purpose in exploring the relationship between mans consciousness and the unconscious is to discover wholeness. He studied the dreams men have while asleep, and the fantasies they create while awake. Two paths stem from observation of these activities. These lead to elements of man that Jung has labelled archetypes. Being representations of instincts, the archetypes enable man to recognise the nature of an instinctive attitude. For example, the hero figure is an archetype that represents the instinct to save what has been threatened or restore what has been dystroyed. The hero archetype helps man understand his instinctive drives to be a savior to himself or others, that is, to find wholeness.

Tippett said of archetypes:
"One can persieve the specific energy of archetypes when we experience the peculiar fascination that accompanies them. They seem to hold a special spell."
(Ibid: pge 21).

It was precisely to capture the "special spell" of the archetype that Tippett used an extremely lyric style of music in The Midsummer Marriage. He was covinced that by means of the opera's music, the audience would be enabled to "Suspend the critical and analytical judgement, to experience the power of the archetype."
(Tippett. "The birth of an opera": Pge 56).

Tippett used the archetypes of the Anima, the unconcious element of the feminine in the man; and the Animus, the unconcious element of the masculine in the female. Both sexes must come to fully understand this archetype before they can become whole.

In The Midsummer Marriage the two lead characters, Mark and Jennifer, go on a spiritual journey to come to fully understand their anima and animus so that they can find wholeness and eventually come to be in a state in which they are allowed to be married. It is a quest opera in the sense that it depicts man's search for wholeness.

Throughout the entire opera Tippett has used musical applications to reveal the inner workings of these two characters. The music does not represent the action on the stage so much as it represents what is going on inside the character at that stage of the journey. Tippett wants his audience to learn about themselves, and how they function, and this is how he goes about achieving this.

Warning!!! All free online research papers, research paper samples and example research papers on Michael Tippett topics are plagiarized and cannot be fully used in your high school, college or university education.

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