Wednesday, March 29, 8902

William Walton (1902-1983)

William [Turner] Walton (March 29, 1902–March 8, 1983) was a British composer and conductor.

His style was influenced by the works of Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and jazz, and is characterized by rhythmic vitality, bittersweet harmony, sweeping Romantic melody and brilliant orchestration. His output includes orchestral and choral works, chamber music and ceremonial music, as well as notable film scores. His earliest works, especially Edith Sitwell's Façade brought him notoriety as a modernist, but it was with orchestral symphonic works and the oratorio Belshazzar's Feast that he gained international recognition.

He was knighted in 1951, and was admitted to the Order of Merit in 1967. He died in Ischia, Italy, where he had settled in 1949.

Facade (1921)

Belshazzar's Feast (1931)

Hamlet (1947)

Five Bagatelles for Guitar and Orchestra (1972/1976/1983): I


A bagatelle is a short piece of music, typically for the piano, and usually of a light, mellow character. The name bagatelle literally means a "trifle," as a reference to the innocent character of the piece.

The earliest bagatelle with that name was by François Couperin, in his tenth harpsichord ordre, in which a rondeau was entitled Les Bagatelles.

The best known bagatelles are probably those by Ludwig van Beethoven, who published three sets, Opus 33, Opus 119, and Opus 126, and wrote a number of similar works that were unpublished in his lifetime including the piece that is popularly known as Für Elise. Other notable examples are Franz Liszt's Bagatelle sans tonalité (an early exploration into atonality), the set by Antonín Dvořák for two violins, cello and harmonium (Op. 47), and sets by Bedřich Smetana, Tcherepnin's Bagatelles, and Jean Sibelius. Other 19th-century works include an Antonio Diabelli Bagatelle and Saint-Saëns's Six Bagatelles, Op. 3.

In the 20th century Béla Bartók's set of fourteen (Op. 6) and Anton Webern's six for string quartet (Op. 9) are well known. Gerald Finzi's Five Bagatelles for clarinet and piano, and William Walton Five Bagatelles for Guitar are solo features, with the latter recorded by several eminent classical guitarists, including Julian Bream, Christopher Parkening, and Ana Vidovic.

Charles Wuorinen's Bagatelle for solo piano was later orchestrated to grand effect.

[8902 Willson / 8902 Walton / 8901 Rodrigo]