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William Walton (1902-1983)

William Walton, composerOccupying an important historical position between his better-known colleagues Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten, William Walton is seen by many as the first modern British composer to approach the brilliance and vitality which characterized English music during Handel's day. Born in northwest England, Walton was the son of a choirmaster, and appropriately, served as a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral at Oxford from 1912 to 1918. Studies at the university itself proved unsatisfying, and William left Oxford without a degree in 1920, relying instead upon the patronage of the Sitwell family, who had befriended the young composer. Through the influence of this affluent and well-known family, Walton was able to break into the London music scene, and by 1922 his chamber piece Fašade had achieved some popularity with the concert-going public. A performance of his comic overture Portsmouth Point in Zurich in 1926, and Paul Hindemith's championing of his Viola Concerto (1929) helped introduce Walton's music into the European music scene. The famous Belshazzar's Feast for chorus and orchestra soon followed, and the 1930s brought with commissions from well-known musical figures, including Jascha Heifetz, who asked the composer to write him a Violin Concerto (1939). Walton spent much of World War II composing music for films. In 1948, he moved to Ischia, a small island off of Naples, and he was knighted in 1951. In 1954, after many years of effort, his grand opera Troilus and Cressida was produced at Covent Garden; unfortunately, the work has not received the attention it deserves. Walton composed prolifically until the end of his life, fulfilling commissions for such notables as George Szell, Gregor Piatigorsky and Mstislav Rostropovich. While never again achieving the degree of public and critical acclaim which he enjoyed before the World War II, he was nevertheless able to live comfortably on Ischia, where he died in 1983. Although he was overshadowed in the latter half of his career by Benjamin Britten, Walton was never the old-fashioned reactionary (a frequent, but unjust, accusation). Much like his contemporaries Poulenc and Prokofiev, Walton was at heart an expressive, lyric composer who refused to subjugate this natural ability to the "modernist" tendencies that the press berated him for not embracing. His music is a sparkling synthesis of old and new, the greatest examples of which can be found in his two Symphonies (1935 and 1960), and the Viola (1929), Violin (1939) and Cello (1956) Concertos.
-  Blair Johnston, All Music Guide

COMPOSITIONS                                                            Walton  Links     ~ ~ ~     Works by Genre
A Litany, chorus (1916, rev. 1930)
Tell me where is fancy bred, soprano, tenor, 3 violins and piano (1916)
Chorale Prelude on Wheatley, organ (1916)
The Forsaken Merman, cantata, soli, women's chorus and orchestra (1916)
Valse in C minor, piano (1917)
Three Songs (Swinburne), voice and piano (1918, unpub.) [Child's Song; Love Laid His Sleepless Head; A Lyke-wake Song]
The Winds, voice and piano (1918)
Quartet for Piano and Strings (1921, rev. 1975)
Tritons, voice and piano (1920)
The Passionate Shepherd, tenor and 10 instruments (1920; lost)
Dr. Syntax: A Pedagogic Overture, orchestra (1921; lost)
String Quartet No. 1 (1922)
Fašade: An Entertainment, reciter and 6 instruments (1922, rev. 1942)
Fašade 2: A Further Entertainment, reciter and 6 instruments (1922-27; rev. 1979)
Toccata (in A minor), violin and piano (1923)
Fantasia Concertante, 2 pianos, jazz band and orchestra (1924; lost)
Portsmouth Point, overture, orchestra (1925)
Siesta, small orchestra (1926, rev. 1962)
Sinfonia Concertante, orchestra with piano obbligato (1926, rev. 1943)
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra (1929, rev. 1961)
Belshazzar's Feast, cantata, baritone, double chorus and orchestra (1931, rev. 1948, 1959)
Make we joy now in this fest, carol, chorus (1931)
Chorale Prelude on Herzlich thut mich verlangen (J. S. Bach, freely arranged), piano (1931)
Three Songs, voice and piano (1932)
Escape Me Never, film score (1934)
Symphony No. 1 (1935; arr. as Salome, ballet, 1971)
The First Shoot, ballet (1935, lost; version for band, 1980) [for the revue Follow the Sun by C. B. Cochran]
The Boy David, incidental music (1935; lost) [for the play by J. M. Barrie]
As You Like It, film score (1936)
Under the Greenwood Tree, song, voice (or unison voices) and piano (1936)
Theme for Improvisation, organ (1936)
Crown Imperial, coronation march, orchestra (1937)
In Honour of the City of London, cantata, chorus and orchestra (1937)
Dreaming Lips, film music (1937)
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, anthem, chorus (1938)
A Stolen Life, film score (1938)
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1939, rev. 1943)
The Wise Virgins, ballet in one act, based on music by J. S. Bach (1940; original lost; Suite, 1940)
Duets for Children, piano duet (1940; arr. for orchestra as Music for Children, 1941)
Scapino, a comedy overture, orchestra (1940, rev. 1950)
Major Barbara, film score (1941)
The Next of Kin, film score (1941)
Macbeth, incidental music (1942)
The Foreman Went to France, film score (1942)
The First of the Few, film score (1942)
Prelude and Fugue, The Spitfire, orchestra (1942) [from the film The First of the Few]
Christopher Columbus, incidental music for a radio play (1942)
Went the Day Well?, film score (1942)
The Quest, ballet (1943)
Henry V, film score (1944)
Two Pieces for Strings (1944) [from the film Henry V]
Lai and Rondet de carol, piano (1944; lost)
Where does the uttered music go?, chorus (1946)
String Quartet [No. 2] in A minor (1946) [arr. as Sonata for String Orchestra, 1971]
Hamlet, film score (1947)
Put off the serpent girdle, part-song, female chorus (1949-50)
Sonata for Violin and Piano (1950)
Two Pieces for Violin and Piano (1950)
Coronation Te Deum, double chorus, boys chorus, orchestra and military brass (1952)
Orb and Sceptre, coronation march, orchestra (1953)
Variation on an Elizabethan Theme, Sellinger's Round, string orchestra (1953)
Troilus and Cressida, opera (1954, rev.1963, 1976)
Richard III, film score (1955)
Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra (1956; rev. 1975)
Johannesburg Festival Overture, orchestra (1956)
Partita for Orchestra (1957)
Symphony No. 2, orchestra (1960)
Anon. in love, six songs, tenor and guitar (1959)
Gloria, soli, double chorus and orchestra (1961)
What cheer?, carol, chorus (1961)
A Song for the Lord Mayor's Table, six songs, soprano and piano (1962)
Prelude for Orchestra: Granada (1962)
Variations on a Theme by Hindemith, orchestra (1963)
The Twelve, anthem for the feast of any apostle, chorus and organ (1965)
Missa brevis, double chorus and organ (1966)
The Bear, extravaganza in one act, opera (1967)
Capriccio burlesco, orchestra (1968)
The Battle of Britain, film score (1969)
Improvisations on an Impromptu of Benjamin Britten, orchestra (1969)
Three Sisters, film score (1969)
All this time, carol, chorus (1970)
Theme for Variations, cello (1970)
Five Bagatelles, guitar (1970-71) (arr. as Varii capricci, orchestra, 1975-76; Varii capricci, ballet, 1983)
Jubilate Deo, double chorus and organ (1972)
Cantico del sole, motet, chorus (1974)
Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, chorus and organ (1974, rev. 1976)
Antiphon, chorus and organ (1977)
King Herod and the cock, carol, chorus (1977)
Passacaglia, cello (1980)
Prologo e fantasia, orchestra (1982)
Duettino, oboe and violin (1982)


WORKS BY GENRE                                                            Walton  Links     ~ top of page ~
Dramatic/Theater
Symphony No. 1 (1935; arr. as Salome, ballet, 1971)
The First Shoot, ballet (1935, lost; version for band, 1980) [for the revue Follow the Sun by C. B. Cochran]
The Wise Virgins, ballet in one act, based on music by J. S. Bach (1940; original lost; Suite, 1940)
The Quest, ballet (1943)
Troilus and Cressida, opera (1954, rev.1963, 1976)
The Bear, extravaganza in one act, opera (1967)
Varii capricci, ballet (1983) [from Five Bagatelles, guitar, 1970-71; also Varii capricci, orchestra, 1975-76]

Orchestra
Dr. Syntax: A Pedagogic Overture, orchestra (1921; lost)
Portsmouth Point, overture, orchestra (1925)
Siesta, small orchestra (1926, rev. 1962)
Sinfonia Concertante, orchestra with piano obbligato (1926, rev. 1943)
Symphony No. 1 (1935; arr. as Salome, ballet, 1971)
The First Shoot, ballet (1935, lost; version for band, 1980) [for the revue Follow the Sun by C. B. Cochran]
Crown Imperial, coronation march, orchestra (1937)
Duets for Children, piano duet (1940; arr. for orchestra as Music for Children, 1941)
Scapino, a comedy overture, orchestra (1940, rev. 1950)
Prelude and Fugue, The Spitfire, orchestra (1942) [from the film "The First of the Few", 1942]
The Quest, ballet (1943)
Two Pieces for Strings (1944) [from the film Henry V]
String Quartet [No. 2] in A minor (1946) [arr. as Sonata for String Orchestra, 1971]
Orb and Sceptre, coronation march, orchestra (1953)
Variation on an Elizabethan Theme, Sellinger's Round, string orchestra (1953)
Johannesburg Festival Overture, orchestra (1956)
Partita for Orchestra (1957)
Symphony No. 2, orchestra (1960)
Prelude for Orchestra: Granada (1962)
Variations on a Theme by Hindemith, orchestra (1963)
Capriccio burlesco, orchestra (1968)
Improvisations on an Impromptu of Benjamin Britten, orchestra (1969)
Varii capricci, orchestra (1975-76) [from Five Bagatelles, guitar, 1970-71; also Varii capricci, ballet, 1983]
Prologo e fantasia, orchestra (1982)

Soloist(s) w/Orchestra
Fantasia Concertante, 2 pianos, jazz band and orchestra (1924; lost)
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra (1929, rev. 1961)
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1939, rev. 1943)
Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra (1956; rev. 1975)

Chorus w/Orchestra
The Forsaken Merman, cantata, soli, women's chorus and orchestra (1916)
Belshazzar's Feast, cantata, baritone, double chorus and orchestra (1931, rev. 1948, 1959)
In Honour of the City of London, cantata, chorus and orchestra (1937)
Coronation Te Deum, double chorus, boys chorus, orchestra and military brass (1952)
Gloria, soli, double chorus and orchestra (1961)

Choral
A Litany, chorus (1916; rev. 1930)
Make we joy now in this fest, carol, chorus (1931)
Under the Greenwood Tree, song, voice (or unison voices) and piano (1936)
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, anthem, chorus (1938)
Where does the uttered music go?, chorus (1946)
Put off the serpent girdle, part-song, female chorus (1949-50)
What cheer?, carol, chorus (1961)
The Twelve, anthem for the feast of any apostle, chorus and organ (1965)
Missa brevis, double chorus and organ (1966)
All this time, carol, chorus (1970)
Jubilate Deo, double chorus and organ (1972)
Cantico del sole, motet, chorus (1974)
Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, chorus and organ (1974, rev. 1976)
Antiphon, chorus and organ (1977)
King Herod and the cock, carol, chorus (1977)

Chamber
Quartet for Piano and Strings (1921, rev. 1975)
String Quartet No. 1 (1922)
String Quartet [No. 2] in A minor (1946) [arr. as Sonata for String Orchestra, 1971]
Duettino, oboe and violin (1982)

Solo Instrument
Toccata (in A minor), violin and piano (1923)
Sonata for Violin and Piano (1950)
Two Pieces for Violin and Piano (1950)
Theme for Variations, cello (1970)
Five Bagatelles, guitar (1970-71) (arr. as Varii capricci, orchestra, 1975-76; Varii capricci, ballet, 1983)
Passacaglia, cello (1980)

Piano/Organ
Chorale Prelude on Wheatley, organ (1916)
Valse in C minor, piano (1917)
Chorale Prelude on Herzlich thut mich verlangen (J. S. Bach, freely arranged), piano (1931)
Theme for Improvisation, organ (1936)
Duets for Children, piano duet (1940; arr. for orchestra as Music for Children, 1941)
Lai and Rondet de carol, piano (1944; lost)

Vocal
Tell me where is fancy bred, soprano, tenor, 3 violins and piano (1916)
Three Songs (Swinburne), voice and piano (1918, unpub.) [Child's Song; Love Laid His Sleepless Head; A Lyke-wake Song]
The Winds, voice and piano (1918)
Tritons, voice and piano (1920)
The Passionate Shepherd, tenor and 10 instruments (1920; lost)
Fašade: An Entertainment, reciter and 6 instruments (1922, rev. 1942)
Fašade 2: A Further Entertainment, reciter and 6 instruments (1922-27; rev. 1979)
Three Songs, voice and piano (1932)
Under the Greenwood Tree, song, voice (or unison voices) and piano (1936)
Anon. in love, six songs, tenor and guitar (1959)
A Song for the Lord Mayor's Table, six songs, soprano and piano (1962)

Incidental/Film
Escape Me Never, film score (1934)
The Boy David, incidental music (1935; lost) [for the play by J. M. Barrie]
As You Like It, film score (1936)
Dreaming Lips, film music (1937) [1935]
A Stolen Life, film score (1938) [1939]
Major Barbara, film score (1941)
The Next of Kin, film score (1941) [1942]
Macbeth, incidental music (1942)
The Foreman Went to France (Somewhere in France), film score (1942)
The First of the Few (Spitfire), film score (1942)
Christopher Columbus, incidental music for a radio play (1942)
Went the Day Well? (48 Hours), film score (1942)
The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (Henry V), film score (1944) [1945]
Hamlet, film score (1947) [1948]
Richard III, film score (1955)
The Battle of Britain, film score (1969)
Three Sisters, film score (1969) [1970]


WALTON  LINKS                                                            Works by Genre      ~ top of page ~
The Civilized Composer (Time Magazine)
How Walton Killed His Own Talent (Norman Lebrecht, La Scena Musicale)
Interview: Sir William Walton, As Remembered by His Wife, Lady Susana Walton (Paolo Petrocelli, Culture Kiosque)
Patriot - Walton's Henry V Score Set for Brighton Revival (Michael Church, The Independent)
Walton's Musical Legacy (BBC News)
William Walton: At the Haunted End of the Day (Tony Palmer, Movie Mail)
William Walton - Behind the Facade by Susana Walton (reviewed by David Wright, MusicWeb International)
William Walton: The Enfant Terrible of Oldham (The Independent)
William Walton Obituary (Christopher Palmer, The Musical Times)
William Walton - The Composer Who Got Away (Tim Mutum, 4barsrest.com)
William Walton: Troilus and Cressida - "This Unfortunate Opera" (Len Mullenger, MusicWeb International)
William Walton's Centenary is Celebrated with a Massive Festival in the North of England (Nina Large, Andante.com)

Books
William Walton: Muse of Fire (Stephen Lloyd, Boydell Press, books.google.com)

Composer website
William Walton Trust

Walton @ Wikipedia
Walton @ About.com
Walton @ Answers.com
Walton @ Bach Cantatas
Walton @ Boosey & Hawkes
Walton @ Choral Wiki
Walton @ CITWF / Complete Index to World Film
Walton @ Classic Cat
Walton @ Classical Archives
Walton @ Classical Composers Database
Walton @ Classical Musical Midi Page
Walton @ Classical Music Review
Walton @ Classical Net
Walton @ ClassicsToday
Walton @ Clinton Symphony Orchestra
Walton @ Dilettante Music
Walton @ 8notes
Walton @ enotes.com
Walton @ Dr. Estrella's Incredibly Abridged Dictionary of Composers
Walton @ Facebook
Walton @ Fandango
Walton @ Film Reference
Walton @ Fugue Masters
Walton @ GMN Classical Plus
Walton @ Guild Music
Walton @ Humanities Web
Walton @ IMDb (Internet Movie Database)
Walton @ Infoplease
Walton @ Information Britain
Walton @ InstantEncore
Walton @ Karadar Classical Music
Walton @ Logos
Walton @ ModernClassical.com
Walton @ Movie Music UK
Walton @ MSN Movies
Walton @ The Music Gallery
Walton @ MusicWeb International
Walton @ musicianguide.com
Walton @ MySpaceMusic
Walton @ Naxos
Walton @ The New York Times
Walton @ NNDB
Walton @ Oxford University Press
Walton @ Real.com
Walton @ REC Music Foundation /The Lied and Art Song Texts Page
Walton @ screenonline
Walton @ SoundtrackCollector
Walton @ Soundtrack Express
Walton @ Soundtrack Net
Walton @ SoundUnwound
Walton @ Suite101
Walton @ Turner Classic Movies
Walton @ WGUC

Streaming Audio
Walton @ The Classical MIDI Connection
Walton @ Classical Archives
Walton @ Classical Musical Midi Page
Walton @ last.fm
Walton @ MidiWorld
Walton @ The Music Gallery
Walton @ MySpaceMusic
Walton @ NPRmusic
Walton @ Rhapsody

Recordings
Walton @ ArkivMusic
Walton @ ClassicsOnline
Walton @ Discogs
Walton @ Hyperion Records

Walton @ YouTube

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