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Sir William Turner Walton OM (29 March 1902 – 8 March 1983) was an English composer. During a sixty-year career, he wrote music in several classical genres and styles, from film scores to opera. His best-known works include Façade, the cantata Belshazzar's Feast, the Viola Concerto and the First Symphony.

Born in Oldham, Lancashire, the son of a musician, Walton was a chorister and then an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford. On leaving the university, he was taken up by the literary Sitwell siblings, who provided him with a home and a cultural education. His earliest work of note was a collaboration with Edith Sitwell, Façade, which at first brought him notoriety as a modernist, but later became a popular ballet score.

In middle age, Walton left Britain and set up home with his young wife on the Italian island of Ischia. By this time, he had ceased to be regarded as a modernist, and some of his compositions of the 1950s were criticised as old-fashioned. His only full-length opera, Troilus and Cressida, was among the works to be so labelled and has made little impact in opera houses. In his last years, his works came back into critical fashion; his later compositions, dismissed by critics at the time of their premieres, were revalued and regarded alongside his earlier works.

Walton was a slow worker, painstakingly perfectionist, and his complete body of work across his long career is not large. His most popular compositions continue to be frequently performed in the twenty-first century, and by 2010 almost all his works had been released on CD.

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Discography

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Album

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1965 Violin Concertos Sibelius, Walton; Zino Francescatti, New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy 1
1985 Cello Concertos Elgar, Walton; Yo‐Yo Ma, London Symphony Orchestra, André Previn 2
1987 Symphony No. 1 / Orb & Sceptre / Crown Imperial Sir William Walton 1
1988 Symphony no. 1 / Portsmouth Point Overture Walton; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin 1
1990 Façade 1 & 2 (The City of London Sinfonia feat. conductor: Richard Hickox, Reciters: Susana Walton & Richard Baker) Sir William Walton 1
1990 Film Music, Volume 2: Battle of Britain Suite / A Wartime Sketchbook / "Spitfire" Prelude and Fugue / Escape Me Never / The Three Sisters Sir William Walton; Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Sir Neville Marriner 1
1990 Walton: 'Spitfire' Prelude and Fugue etc. Sir William Walton 1
1991 Piano Quartet / Sonata for Violin and Piano Sir William Walton 1
1992 Belshazzar's Feast / Coronation Te Deum / Cello Concerto Sir William Walton 1
1992 Respighi / Sibelius / Walton Ottorino Respighi, Jean Sibelius, William Walton; Aaron Rosand, John Covelli 1
1993 Walton: Symphonies 1 & 2 (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra feat. conductor: Vladimir Ashkenazy) Sir William Walton 1
1995 BBC Music, Volume 4, Number 3: Sibelius Symphony no. 2 / Walton Symphony no. 2 Sibelius, Walton; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Martyn Brabbins 1
1995 Cello Concerto / Symphony no. 1 Sir William Walton; Robert Cohen, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Litton 1
1996 Symphony No. 2 / Viola Concerto / Johannesburg Festival Overture (English Northern Philharmonia feat. conductor: Paul Daniel) Sir William Walton 1
1996 Scenes From Shakespeare Sir William Walton 1
1997 Cello Concertos Elgar, Walton, Delius; János Starker, Leonard Slatkin, Philharmonia Orchestra 1
1997 The English Song Series, Volume 2: A Song for the Lord Mayor's Table Sir William Walton, Felicity Lott, Martyn Hill, Graham Johnson 1
1997 Britten: Cello Symphony / Walton: Cello Concerto Britten, Walton; Julian Lloyd Webber, Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St Martin in the Fields 1
1997 Barber: Violin Concerto / Walton: Violin Concerto / Bloch: Baal Shemn Samuel Barber, Sir William Walton, Ernest Bloch; Joshua Bell, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, David Zinman 1
1997 Symphony No. 1 / Partita (English Northern Philharmonia feat. conductor: Paul Daniel) Sir William Walton 1
1998 Belshazzar's Feast / Symphony no. 1 Walton; Simon Rattle, Thomas Hampson 1
1998 Bruch: Double Concerto / Walton: Viola Concerto William Walton, Max Bruch; Yuri Bashmet, London Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi, André Previn 1
1999 Elgar: In the South / Walton: Partita / Britten: Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra / Britten: Sinfonia da Requiem Elgar, Walton, Britten; Hallé Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli 1
1999 BBC Music, Volume 7, Number 11: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis / Belshazzar's Feast (BBC Symphony Orchestra feat. conductor: Andrew Davis, baritone: Willard White) Vaughan Williams / Walton 1
1999 Violin Concerto / Cello Concerto (English Northern Philharmonia feat. conductor: Paul Daniel) Sir William Walton 1
1999 Walton: Spitfire prelude & Fugue; Sinfonia concertante... Sir William Walton 1
2000 Piano Quartet / String Quartet (Maggini Quartet feat. piano: Peter Donohoe) Sir William Walton 1
2000 Henry V (RTE Concert Orchestra feat. conductor: Andrew Penny, narrators: Michael Sheen & Anton Lesser) Sir William Walton 1
2001 English Guitar Concertos (Northern Sinfonia, feat. conductor: Richard Hickox, guitar: Craig Ogden) Walton / Arnold / Berkeley 1
2002 The Twelve / Coronation Te Deum / Missa Brevis / Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis (Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge feat. conductor: Christopher Robinson) Sir William Walton 1
2002 Coronation Te Deum and other choral music (Polyphony feat. conductor: Stephen Layton) Sir William Walton 1
2002 The English Song Series, Volume 1: Anon in Love / Façade Settings / A Song for the Lord Mayor's Table Sir William Walton; Felicity Lott, Martyn Hill, Craig Ogden, Graham Johnson 1
2003 Britten: Violin Concerto / Walton: Viola Concerto Benjamin Britten, Sir William Walton; London Symphony Orchestra, Mstislav Rostropovich, Maxim Vengerov 1
2003 Violin Concertos Jean Sibelius, Sir William Walton; Akiko Suwanai, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo 1
2008 BBC Music, Volume 16, Number 12: Great Proms Premieres Walton / Ireland / Puw 1
2010 Walton: Symphonies Nos 1 & 2 (Orchestre National de Lille feat. conductor: Owain Arwel Hughes) Sir William Walton 1
2013 British Violin Sonatas, Volume One Walton, Ferguson, Britten; Tasmin Little, Piers Lane 1
2014 Poulenc / Walton / Dallapiccola / Schnittke / Silvestrov Poulenc, Walton, Dallapiccola, Schnittke, Silvestrov; Duo Gazzana 1
2014 Cello Concertos Walton, Hindemith; Christian Poltéra, São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Frank Shipway 1
Belshazzar's Feast / Chichester Psalms / Missa Brevis Walton, Bernstein; Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Robert Shaw 1
Belshazzar's Feast / Suite from Henry V (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra feat. conductor: Litton) Sir William Walton 1
Belshazzar's Feast / Suite From Henry V (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra feat. Conductor: André Previn) Sir William Walton 1
Belshazzar's Feast/In Honour of the City of London (London Symphony Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra feat. conductor: Richard Hickox) Sir William Walton 1
Belshazzar’s Feast / Henry V Suite / Spitfire Prelude and Fugue (Richard Hickox, Carl Davis, Sir Charles Groves) Sir William Walton 1
Boult’s Planets Holst, Walton, Vaughan Williams; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult 1
Chamber Music (Soloists of the London Symphony Orchestra) Sir William Walton 1
Elgar: String Quartet in E minor, Op. 83 / Walton: String Quartet in A minor Elgar, Walton; The Britten Quartet 1
Façade (Melologos Ensemble feat. conductor: Silveer Van den Broeck, reciter: Pamela Hunter) Sir William Walton 1
Façade: An Entertainment (reciters: Fenella Fielding and Michael Flanders, Members of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields feat. conductor: Neville Marriner) Sir William Walton 1
Gloria / Te Deum / Façade Suites (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) Sir William Walton 1

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