Michael Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra (1938–39) is one of his most popular and frequently performed works.

Like other works of the composer's early maturity such as the First Piano Sonata and the First String Quartet, the Concerto is characterized by rhythmic energy and a direct melodic appeal. Representing both a meeting point for many of his early influences and a release for the catalytic experiences that defined the decade after leaving London and the Royal College of Music, the Concerto was an experiment in multiplicities, where the diversity of the thematic material (invented and imported) became synthesized through the timbral unity of the ensemble—two ensembles in fact, a further manifestation of the opposition and divisions contributing to the work’s multi-dimensionality. The influence of Bartok and Stravinsky can be shown, as well as that of the 17th century English Madrigal School. From these, and from folk-song, Tippett derives his distinctive and personal technique of 'additive rhythm'. This has been described as 'a kind of rhythm the effect of which is determined by an accumulation of irregular, unpredictable accents in the music'. The composer David Matthews describes the effect thus: "[I]t is the rhythmic freedom of the music, its joyful liberation from orthodox notions of stress and phrase length, that contributes so much to its vitality".

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