The opera King Priam (Tippett, 1961) gains its starkness from the accumulation of often brutally-juxtaposed gestures, but in his next opera, The Knot Garden (Tippett, 1969), a contemporary comedy of forgiveness influenced by Shakespeare's The Tempest, Tippett draws on a synthesis of his earlier styles to portray the characters' separations and reconciliations. Tippett's inclusion of blues at the end of Act I, together with the blues sequence in the second part of the Third Symphony (1972), point to his renewed enthusiasm for the United States, which forms the implied setting for his fourth opera, The Ice Break (Tippett, 1976), although the plot's themes of racial conflict (including mob violence), the generation gap, and the polarity of Communist and capitalist political systems have resonances worldwide. Tippett's preoccupation with the New World led him to reassess his attitude to the Old World, symbolized by the music of Beethoven, quoting the "Ode to Joy" in the Third Symphony, both to assert values and to criticize them. A similar process can be heard in the Fourth String Quartet (1978), with the rhythmic allusions to Beethoven's Grosse Fuge.
Tippett's subsequent works, while continuing to explore new sound worlds, also relate back to earlier developments. The warm lyricism of the radiant Triple Concerto (1979) echoes to a certain extent that of the Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli; in the opera New Year (Tippett, 1988), the portrayal of the tension that exists between our dream worlds and their inevitable conflict with reality reminds us of the personal problems confronting Jenifer and Mark in The Midsummer Marriage. The Mask of Time (1982) for four soloists, chorus and orchestra, "fragments or scenes from a possible epiphany for today", is a rich musical metaphor of the multifaceted nature of contemporary humanity that celebrates reconciliation.