Walton, Sir William Turner

Walton, Sir William Turner, 1902–83, English composer, b. Oldham. Walton studied at Oxford. One of his earliest works was a piano quartet (1918–19). In 1923, Façade, satirical poems by Edith Sitwell read to Walton's jazz-inflected music, had enormous success in London. His orchestral works, noted for eloquent melodic structure, include the overtures Portsmouth Point (1925) and Scapino (1940) and two symphonies (1935, 1961). He wrote an oratorio, Belshazzar's Feast (1931), and coronation marches for George VI (1937) and Elizabeth II (1953). Walton's concerto for viola and orchestra (1929), a violin concerto (1939), a sonata for violin and piano (1950), and a cello concerto (1956) are also well known. Among the films for which he composed musical scores are Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1947), and Richard III (1954). Walton wrote the opera Troilus and Cressida in 1954 and the one-act extravaganza The Bear in 1967. He was knighted in 1951.

See The Selected Letters of William Walton (2002) ed. by M. Hayes; biographies by N. Tierny (1984), S. Walton (1988), M. Kennedy (1989, repr. 1998), and S. Lloyd (2002); H. Burton and M. Murray, William Walton: The Romantic Loner: A Centenary Portrait Album (2002); studies by F. S. Howes (rev. ed. 1974) and S. R. Craggs (1999); At the Haunted End of the Day … A Profile of Sir William Walton (video documentary, 1987).

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