Beethoven & Tippett concert

We take a look at Beethoven's Fourth Symphony and Tippett's A Child of Our Time

Join us this autumn for a night of contrasts at our concert which pairs Beethoven’s masterful Fourth Symphony with Tippett’s groundbreaking oratorio A Child of Our Time.

Read on as we take a closer look at the two works…

A brief introduction

Beethoven’s cycle of nine symphonies is one of the wonders of the classical world. Sandwiched between the heroic Third and the famous Fifth, Beethoven’s sunny and exuberant Fourth Symphony (1806) begins with a searching, mysterious introduction that gives way to rhythmic bubbling energy in the graceful second movement. This is followed by quicksilver contrasts of light and shadow, with a score that mischievously tries to wrongfoot the orchestra with its varying rhythms. The scurrying finale is by turns jocular, tempestuous and brimming with manic enthusiasm.

Michael Tippett composed his secular oratorio A Child of Our Time (1939-1941) as World War Two was consuming Europe. It was a reflection of Tippett’s lifelong pacifism, for which he was imprisoned during the war. His libretto was partly based on the events leading up to Kristallnacht in 1938 – the infamous ‘night of broken glass’ where Jewish people and businesses were targeted in Nazi attacks. Across its three parts it traces a pattern of persecution, recrimination, and insurgent violence, the story told through soloists and the chorus, as well as Tippett’s dramatic orchestral writing.

If you love singing and want to explore A Child of Our Time in more depth, we will be hosting a choral masterclass before the performance on 1 November.

Why not to miss this concert

This is a rare opportunity see two spectacular and contrasting works side by side, performed with all the skill and sensitivity you would expect from the Glyndebourne Chorus and Sinfonia. 

A great moment to look out for

With A Child of Our Time Tippett takes the oratorio and re-invents it for the 20th century, fusing a classical form with contemporary music. Where works like Bach’s Passions include religious ‘chorales’ (moments of communal reflection, empathy, and moral reckoning), A Child of Our Time includes five ‘spirituals’ which draw from the folk songs of enslaved African Americans.

A particular highlight is ‘Go Down, Moses’, which comes after the character the Boy commits a terrible crime. ‘Let my people go!’, the chorus protest, buttressed by apocalyptic sounds from the orchestra, while the bass soloist calls down divine retribution. Its drama and fury demonstrate the light and dark of humanity at the heart of this piece.

Written by Benjamin Poore & Andrew Batty

Our Beethoven & Tippett concert is on stage Tuesday 29 October Friday 1 November 2024.
Glyndebourne Members have priority booking, become a Member. Public booking opens on Sunday 28 April.

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