March 29, 1902
Oldham, Lancashire, England
March 8, 1983 in Ischia, Italy
Also Known As:
Sir William Turner Walton was an English composer of the 20th century known for his orchestral music.
Type of Compositions:
Walton wrote orchestral music, film scores, vocal music, operas and other stage works.
Walton's parents were both musically-inclined; his father was a choirmaster and his mother was a singer. His study of the piano and violin was inconsistent, but he was a good singer; becoming a chorister when he was 10 at Christ Church in Oxford. He entered Oxford University when he was 16 but failed to obtain a music degree. It was there where he met Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell, brothers who made Walton a part of their somewhat peculiar family. It was also during this period when he started composing. Walton was influenced by other composers such as Elgar, Hindemith and Stravinsky.
His notable works include "Façade" (based on poems by Edith Sitwell), "Sinfonia Concertante," "Portsmouth Point," "Viola Concerto," "Violin Concerto,' "Crown Imperial," "Belshazzar’s Feast," "Troilus and Cressida" and "The Bear." He also wrote film scores including "Major Barbara," "Henry V," "Hamlet" and "Richard III" (the last three were collaborations with Laurence Olivier).
Walton was married to Susana Gil. He was knighted in 1951. Walton was hailed as Elgar's successor after the performance of his oratorio, "Belshazzar’s Feast," in 1931 at the Leeds Festival.
Listen to William Walton's "CBelshazzar's Feast" courtesy of YouTube.