Friday, April 30, 2010

Sir William Walton

Sir William Walton OM (1902-1983) ranks amongst the greatest of the 20th century composers. His early career was greatly influenced by the eccentric Sitwell family (Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell) who had adopted him in 1919 when he left Oxford. From his humble origins in Oldham, Lancashire, he found himself catapulted into the glamour and sophisticated world of London society. His best known work of this period is Fa├žade (1922), a brilliant, rhythmic entertainment to words by Edith Sitwell. His first concerto was completed in 1936. During the war he wrote film music, including the marvellous score for Laurence Olivier’s Henry V.
His personal life involved him in a 15 year relationship with a woman older than himself, Alice Wimborne, who helped to nurture his formidable talent. However, alone by 1947, he was visiting Argentina when he met and married Susana Gil, then 22 years old. They decided to live in Italy which he had first visited in 1919 and where in 1936, inspired by Alice, he had written the Violin Concerto for Jascha Heifetz. He preferred the light and peace of the Bay of Naples to England. 

They settled on the Island of Ischia where he lived for the next 35 years, in fact for the rest of his life.

(Thank you, John)

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