Symphony No. 1 (Tippett)
The symphony is scored for 3 flutes (all doubling piccolos), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in A, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (1 player): bass drum, cymbals and strings.
The symphony is in four movements, marked as follows:
- 1. Allegro vigoroso, quasi alla breve
- 2. Adagio
- 3. Presto
- 4. Allegro moderato ma con brio
Tippett began to think about writing a symphony while in prison in 1943. He had already written one symphony (in B flat) but rejected it as immature and over-influenced by Sibelius.
Tippett himself said that the symphony was exuberant rather than refined: "... it's got drive and it's highly wrought". After an energetic and rhythmically insistent opening movement, the Adagio is a darkly mysterious ground bass with variations, in Purcellian manner. The third movement (Presto) is a vigorous scherzo with a pavan-like trio scored for the strings. The finale is a double fugue based on two very different, contrasting subjects, which Tippett then combines in intricate contrapuntal figuration. At the climax, however, the music falls apart, and the work ends in a wholly unexpected way.
- Study Score (ED 10657) Published by Schott & Co. Ltd
- Kemp, Ian (1984). Tippett, the composer and his music. OUP. p.197
- Hayes, J. Notes to the Decca 6-disc edition of Tippett's instrumental works, p.12