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William Walton

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Template:Dablink William Turner Walton (March 29, 1902March 8, 1983) was a British composer influenced by the works of Stravinsky, Sibelius and the jazz genre.

Walton was born in Oldham in Lancashire and after singing as a choirboy at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, entered Christ Church, Oxford. He was taught composition by Hugh Allen at first, but from 16 was largely self-taught.

Walton was friends with the literary Sitwell family: Osbert Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell and Edith Sitwell. It was setting some of Edith's poems as Faade (1922, for reciter and chamber group) which first brought Walton to the attention of the musical world. He had originally been introduced to the Sitwells by Siegfried Sassoon, who had taken an interest in his progress since their first meeting at Oxford (when Walton was only 17 and Sassoon already an established poet).

His other works include two symphonies (1935 and 1960), concertos for violin (written for Jascha Heifetz), viola (written for Lionel Tertis but premiered and championed by Paul Hindemith), and cello (for Gregor Piatigorsky), the oratorio Belshazzar's Feast (1931), and the operas Troilus and Cressida and The Bear (based on the Anton Chekhov play). He also wrote film music, including that for Laurence Olivier's films Henry V and Hamlet. There are two string quartets, of which the second of 1947 was later refashioned by Walton into a Sonata for String Orchestra.

Possibly his most frequently heard works are the ceremonial marches Crown Imperial, written for the coronation of George VI, and Orb and Sceptre, for that of Elizabeth II.

Walton was knighted in 1951 and received the Order of Merit in 1968. He died in 1983 in Ischia in Italy, where he had made his home.

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