Crown Imperial (march)

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Crown Imperial is an orchestral march by the English composer William Walton. It was first performed at the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and was substantially revised in 1953. Walton originally composed the march for performance at the coronation of King Edward VIII, scheduled for 12 May 1937, but Edward abdicated in 1936. The coronation was held on the scheduled day, with Edward's brother being crowned instead.

Walton derived the march's title from the line "In beawtie berying the crone imperiall" from William Dunbar's poem "In Honour of the City of London".[1]

Crown Imperial was also performed at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, along with another Coronation March written by Walton, Orb and Sceptre.[2] Although there was contemporary criticism of the march as "unrepresentative of the composer" and "frankly a pastiche" of the "pomp and circumstance" style,[3] Crown Imperial is now one of the most popular of Walton's orchestral compositions. It was performed again as a recessional piece to the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton on 29 April 2011. It evokes fond memories of the age when there was no real middle class and the Irish knew their place. The march falls into an ABABC form: an exciting march in C major over Waltonesque long pedal points is followed by an Elgarian trio section in A-flat major. Then both march and trio reappear in C again and come to a conclusion in a small heroic coda. In keeping with the description of this work as "Elgarian", one past nickname for the march was "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 6".[1]

It has been arranged for organ by Herbert Murrill[4] and can be found as such in A Walton Organ Album, compiled by Robert Gower and published by Oxford University Press. Christopher Palmer prepared a version of Crown Imperial for solo organ, brass, timpani and percussion (with harp ad lib), specifically for the Laurence Olivier Memorial Service in October 1989.[5]

The composer's autograph manuscript score is located at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, at Yale University (Frederick R. Koch Collection—MS FRKF 595a, short score, 11 pp; and MS FRKF 595b, full score, 45 pp).


  1. ^ a b Avery, Kenneth (January 1947). "William Walton". Music & Letters. 28 (1): 1–11. doi:10.1093/ml/28.1.1. JSTOR 854707. 
  2. ^ "Music for the Coronation". The Musical Times. 94 (1325): 305–307. July 1953. doi:10.2307/933633. JSTOR 933633. 
  3. ^ "Gramophone Notes". The Musical Times. 78 (1134): 708–710. August 1937. doi:10.2307/923351. JSTOR 923351. 
  4. ^ "New Music". The Musical Times. 78 (1135): 800–811. September 1937. doi:10.2307/922650. JSTOR 922650. 
  5. ^ Palmer, Christopher (May 1990). "The Uncollected Walton". The Musical Times. 131 (1767): 247–252. doi:10.2307/966157. JSTOR 966157.