William Walton and the Violin Concerto in England between 1900 and 1940
from Elgar to Britten
The aim of this dissertation is to present a study and an historical-musicological analysis of the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra of Sir William Walton, discussing more specifically the shape of the Concerto for Violin in England between 1900 and 1940, taking into consideration the works of Charles Villiers Stanford, Edward Elgar, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Frederick Delius, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Arthur Somervell, Arnold Bax and Benjamin Britten.
The thesis is divided in three parts:
- the first discusses the Concertos for Violin and Orchestra of the composers active in England between 1900 and 1920: Stanford*, Elgar, Coleridge-Taylor, Delius.
- the second discusses the Concertos for Violin and Orchestra of the composers active in England between 1920 and 1940: Vaughan Williams, Somervell, Bax, Britten.
- The third part discusses the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra of William Walton.
At the beginning there is a brief digression on the shape of the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra between the XIX and XX century in Europe, aimed to provide base knowledge of the characteristics of this musical form and to initiate a comparison between the various national composing styles.
Each part is introduced by means of a generic historical-musical description of England and presents, after a biographical exposition of the composers, a formal, structural, harmonic and aesthetic analysis more or less extensive of the single concerts, along with a study of the technical aspects of the performance and a reflection on the composer-performer relationship. At the end of each part a comparative compendium is presented.
The first and second part are entirely developed in function of the third, that discusses exclusively and in a more detailed manner the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra of William Walton, the work that provoked the most interest in me.
To conclude the introduction, in the appendix there are some unpublished quotes, gained during the research work for this dissertation, given by well-known composers, regarding some of the discussed concertos, particularly in relation to Walton's. I believe this to be a precious contribution, that enriches and completes a reflection started in the dissertation, on the purely technical aspect of music for violin of British composers in the first half of the XIX century.
* Concerto in D major Op.74 (1899), last concerto for violin and orchestra of the XIX century in England.