William Walton (1902–1983) was born in Oldham in Lancashire and spent his youth as a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, staying on at Oxford as a student. As a composer he was mostly self-taught and unlike many other English composers he was largely untouched by the rise in interest in folk song. However, the rhythmic and harmonic vitality of jazz clearly left its mark on him, notably in Façade
, an early work originally written to be the background for the recitation of Edith Sitwell’s eccentric poems. The first symphony and the brilliant cantata Belshazzar’s Feast
followed, establishing Walton as one of Britain’s leading composers.
from notes by Christopher Herrick © 2015