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Sir William Walton

Sir William Walton

Biography

Throughout the twentieth century, the British had a strong habit of clinging to tonality in the face of all that was occurring in Germany, then considered the Death Star of contemporary music with Schoenberg acting as Lord Vader. The knight Sir William Walton was a key figure in carrying this British torch of musical independence, which had only been ignited at the beginning of the century by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Walton's music is squarely of its time, neither regressing into nineteenth century romanticism nor pushing too hard into the future. His alliances with the English literati produced works like the chamber arrangement of poems by the eccentric Dame Edith Sitwell entitled Facade (1923), which incorporate a very British version of Sprechstimme, a text recitation that's halfway between singing and speech made famous a decade earlier by Schoenberg in Pierrot Lunaire (1912). His fame as an orchestral writer began in 1926 with the success of his Portsmouth Point and led to his diversification over the next forty years into opera, film, concertos and oratorios.
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