Music: Healing Spring

A bold Tippett opera "What is the answer?... What is the question?"

—Gertrude Stein, on her deathbed

In their ripest years some artists provide serene answers to life's perplexities.

Others, like Sir Michael Tippett, provide more pointed questions. Tippett, 74, has emerged since the death of Benjamin Britten as England's pre-eminent composer.

A longtime resident of the Wiltshire countryside, he has developed slowly, outside the avenues of musical fashion, building an angular, passionate and original style that freely jumbles, say, madrigals, blues, jagged contemporary dissonances and echoes of Schubert.

No less individualistic than Tippett's...

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