Throughout his life, which spanned the greater part of the twentieth century (1905-1998), Sir Michael Tippett was a prolific letter-writer. He wrote to a vast number of people over the years, including family, friends and lovers, colleagues in the music world, journalists, poets, dramatists and politicians. Published to coincide with the centenary of Tippett's birth, these carefully selected letters provide us with a first hand account of the composer's private and professional experiences, revealing a uniquely personal view which until now has remained largely unknown to the public. Bearing witness to the atrocities and advancements of the twentieth century, these letters display a fiercely creative mind struggling to construct a universal artistic expression. His correspondence places the reader at the composer's side, within the historical moment, as a witness to the creative process. Writing open, uninhibited letters became common practice for Tippett, his candid tone lending itself to tackling a wide range of personal and social issues. From the bombing of his cottage in Oxted, to the ecstatic experience of artistic breakthrough that led to progress on a new composition, each new event and accomplishment is documented with clarity and urgency.
Thomas Schuttenhelm is a composer, performer and scholar - he became acquainted with the music of Tippett as a student and met the composer, when he visited Albany USA in 1992 for a festival of his music. Since Tippett's death he has been active in academic circles giving lectures and seminars, and organizing activities for the 2005 centenary. David Matthews is one of Britain's foremost composers. He is well-known as an authority on the music of Tippett and his monograph Michael Tippett was published by Faber in l979.