The “fine print” in the A Child of Our time

Tippett’s secular oratorio was written in response to the shooting of a German official by Polish Jewish refugee, Herschel Grynzspan in 1938 which resulted in the Kristallnacht.

The composition has several references to a Jewish motif – a descending succession of 4 notes: half note followed by an augmented second interval and another half note.

A fun fact for those of us who sang in 2013, here’s the beginning of Oseh Shalom Bimromav composed by Michael Schachter who was the winner of our 2013 Young Composer competition. Identifying the Jewish motif in it is quite clear.

Here are four, randomly picked, examples from the work:

No. 3 Scena:

Same movement with the motif scrambled somewhat (illustrating the “we are lost”?)

#5 chorus of the oppressed:

# 28 Scena (page 89):

Can we think of it as a leitmotif in this work?

I find this element to show the breadth and depth of this complex work. The addition of the “Jewish motif” is quite subtle.

* This motif is used in other “world music” such as Arabic, Balkan, and more)