Orb and Sceptre

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Orb and Sceptre is a march for orchestra written by Sir William Walton for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June 1953.


Influenced largely by Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance Marches 1 and 4,[citation needed] it begins in the key of E major with bright trumpet fanfares before leaping into the famous march section, heavily syncopated and brightly orchestrated. This section moves briefly through C major before returning to E.

As with Crown Imperial, written by Walton in 1936 for the coronation of Elizabeth II's father, King George VI, the middle section is a quieter trio in C. This theme is heard subdued on the strings, before being repeated in its more stately and grand form. The main march section is then heard again, this time even more colourfully, and this parades on, building up to the final hearing of the stately trio section back in the home key of E. This time Walton uses the whole orchestra, percussion steadily beating away, while the tune is shared between fortissimo strings and fanfare-like brass. A short, fast coda ends the piece in his usual very Elgarian style.[citation needed]


'Orb and Sceptre' has been arranged for brass band by Eric Ball, for organ by Sir William McKie, and in 2014 for Concert Band by Paul Noble.