Coronation March Crown Imperial (1937)
William Walton (1902-1983)
Sixteen-year-old William Walton was the one of the youngest undergraduates to attend Christ Church College Oxford since Henry VIII’s time. Nevertheless, he was not a child prodigy and, although he became a respected composer, he received little formal musical training. Walton is best known for his musical parody Façade and his oratorio Balshzzaer’s Feast as well as his two Coronation Marches. He also wrote some notable film scores, such as the one for Henry V, and two symphonies.
When Prince Albert of York was to be crowned as Edward VII, the BBC commissioned Walton to write an appropriately ceremonial march, requesting that it be in the style of Sir Edward Elgar. Elgar had recently died and his works such as his five Pomp and Circumstance Marches had met the needs of previous grand royal occasions. So successful was Walton’s “homage to Elgar”, that Crown Imperial has been referred to as Pomp and Circumstance March No. 6!
Of course, Edward abdicated and Prince Albert was crowned as King George V in his stead in a ceremony that otherwise went ahead as originally planned. For the coronation of his daughter, Elizabeth II, at which Crown Imperial was also played, Walton wrote a second march, Orb and Sceptre. Crown Imperial became even more widely known when it was used as the recessional for the televised marriage of Prince William to Catherine Middleton in 2011.
Performed: 9 and 16 Sep 2018