otto dix self portrait

Michael Tippett’s oratorio A Child of Our Time is one of the great twentieth century musical reflections on war and suffering, exploring similar kinds of themes to Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and György Ligeti’s Requiem. Into the score Tippett wove five traditional spirituals – Steal Away, Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve See, Go Down Moses, O By and By and Deep River. So here, at the end of a week in which there has been much talk, and remembrance, of war, are four of those spirituals in a more traditional setting, together with Jessye Norman singing O By and By from A Child of Our Time (perhaps someone can put me right, but I don’t know of any decent recorded traditional versions of this song)  and the ending to Tippett’s oratorio with his setting of Deep River.


Pearly Brown
Steal Away


Paul Robeson
Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen


Paul Robeson
Go Down Moses


Marian Anderson
Deep River

nevinson returning to the trenches


Jessye Norman
BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
O By and By


Cynthia Haymon, Damon Evans, Cynthia Clarey, Willard White
London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Deep River



The paintings are ‘Self Portrait as a Soldier’ by Otto Dix and ‘Study for Returning to the Trenches’ by CRW Nevinson, both painted during the First World War.

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