Sir Michael Tippett (1905 – 1998) without doubt was a significant British composer of the 20th century. His oratorio ‘A Child of Our Time‘, composed during the Second World War, deals with violent incidents of those years in the context of the experiences of oppressed people generally, and carries a strongly pacifist message of ultimate understanding and reconciliation.

His music became a vehicle to channel his humanitarian and pacifist beliefs, alongside his campaigning activity, which include becoming a president of the Peace Pledge Union and unveiling in Tavistock Square, in London,  the Commemorative Stone to conscientious objectors all over the world and in every age.

“My sibling is the torturer”. It is a frightening line, and I do not know that I understand what it means. And yet I know instinctively that it is something that we have got to face up to; there is some element, which we have not yet understood, about why people do things in this violent form. I am afraid that unless we make some definite effort to understand we shall not get ourselves round this corner. My emotional responses in favour of the victims of war and in opposition to notions of military heroism do not necessarily make me a better person than the ‘heroes’. Individual Responsibility, Talk at the Peace Pledge Union AGM 

Listen to Part 1 of 8 of ‘A Child of Our Time’ (youtube link)

Follow the links below to find out more about Michael Tippett:

http://www.ppu.org.uk/learn/infodocs/people/pst_tippett.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Tippett

Sources

Peace Pledge Union, Wikipedia