With the completion of the First String Quartet (1935) and First Piano Sonata (1938), Tippett withdrew or destroyed all his earlier compositions, thereby marking the emergence of his mature style. Indeed, the finale of the quartet contains the first example of his highly individual use of asymmetrical rhythms, more fully explored in the virile counterpoint of the exultant Concerto for Double String Orchestra (1939) and the presto scherzo of the Second String Quartet (1942). In contrast to Tippett's self-confessed preoccupation with form in these works, the oratorio A Child of Our Time (Tippett, 1941) reveals his commitment to expressing fundamental truths about the contemporary human condition, in this case, man's inhumanity to man, inviting our understanding and compassion. Although the subject matter of the opera The Midsummer Marriage (Tippett, 1952) is different - two lovers can be united only after having attained self-knowledge - the raison d'être is the same. The opera's "images of abounding, generous, exhuberant beauty" are conveyed in a luminous opulence that also pervades the subsequent Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli for strings (1953) with its rich profusion of arabesques, and the glittering textures of the Piano Concerto (1955).
A move, already evident in the Second Symphony (1957), toward greater concentration, with the music evolving as the statement of many contrasting ideas in different juxtapositions rather than the lengthy development of a few, gains fuller expression in the mosaic-like structures of the Second Piano Sonata (1962) and the sophisticated 'collage' treatment in the Concerto for Orchestra (1963). The complex, multilayered textures of The Vision of St. Augustine (1965) for baritone, chorus and orchestra, Tippett's most radical work, form the climax of this development.