Take a deep breath…
The breath carries Michael Tippett’s Symphony No. 4 through seven fluid movements, his last symphony, tracing life’s journey from “birth to death”.
A whole life in a symphony – Michael Tippett’s Symphony No. 4
In 1977, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra commissioned and premiered the work under the musical direction of Georg Solti. An uninterrupted performance history ever since reflects the unwavering fascination surrounding this work.
Tippett embodies the multifaceted nature of human life through large-scale orchestration and use of a microphone to capture a raw breath as the symbol of life, audible throughout, only to die at the end of the symphony. Various instrumental groups create remarkable colours and textures through the incorporation of different themes and motifs that permeate the music. Tippett was concerned with fundamental existential questions, which found their way into his compositions throughout his life.
Art is so deeply connected to human experience that it can open up a metaphorical world that cannot be reached by philosophy alone, making art the ideal medium to extend and enhance the metaphysical debate through its experiential quality. Toby Young, in: Metaphysics and Heavy Breathing (or Tippett’s Fourth Symphony)
Look out for Andrew Davis conducting the BBC Philharmonic at the BBC Proms on 19 July 2022!
photo: Michael Tippett