William Walton: Muse of Fire

March 2001
22 black and white, 5 line illustrations
352 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780851158037
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press

William Walton: Muse of Fire

Stephen Lloyd

This acclaimed biography draws on first-hand accounts, including new material on Walton's circle of the 20s and 30s; the composer's work in film a particular focus.
When in June 1923 a bewildered audience in London's Aeolian Hall heard Edith Sitwell declaim her Façade poems through a megaphone, the 21-year-old William Walton - conducting behind a painted backcloth - stood on the threshold of fame. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s he was regarded as the white hope of British music, and a succession of works including the Viola Concerto, Belshazzar's Feast and the First Symphony more than fulfilled that early promise; he was also one of the first serious composers to be involved in films.
Using first-hand accounts, this book explodes the myth of Façade's riotous reception, examines Walton's work in both films and radio and, through contemporary correspondence, articles and interviews - wherever possible in his own words - explores Walton's life and troubled times. It brings to the fore his complex personality - "remote, removed, distant" in Laurence Olivier's words, in dynamic contrast with music of such vitality and drama. Composition for him was an arduous, often painful, process riddled with difficulties, uncertainties and self-doubts, and further complicated by several love affairs (one being with Italy) that inspired his finest works.

STEPHEN LLOYD's previous books include a biography of H. Balfour Gardiner and a collection of Eric Fenby's writings on Delius, which he edited. In addition to record sleeve notes, programme notes, reviews and articles, he has contributed to the Percy Grainger Companion, the Studies in Music Grainger Centennial Volume, An Elgar Companion, and volumes on Delius, Walton and Bliss.
Keywords: Music


Immensely detailed, rich, and often fascinating anecdotal biography... CHOICE

Careful in its judgments, copiously quoting from Walton's letters, and rich in appendices. LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS

A helpful contribution to the slow but steady re-evaluation of Walton. MUSIC AND LETTERS

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