Walton, Sir William (opera) (Turner)
- Michael Kennedy
(b Oldham, March 29, 1902; d Ischia, March 8, 1983). English composer. He was a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, 1912–18, where he wrote his earliest compositions: songs and anthems. He was ‘adopted’ by the Sitwell family in 1919 and achieved notoriety in 1922 for his collaboration with Edith Sitwell in the entertainment Façade. In the 1920s and 30s he became the leading British composer of his generation with a succession of works including concertos for viola (1929) and violin (1939), a symphony (1931–5) and the cantata Belshazzar’s Feast (1931). His first involvement with opera was with Cecil Gray, who in 1941 wrote a libretto about the Italian composer Gesualdo, but no music was composed. In 1947 he was commissioned by the BBC to compose an opera and chose the subject of Troilus and Cressida, in Chaucer’s version, with Christopher Hassall as librettist. This occupied him from ...