Richard Henry Walthew

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Richard Henry Walthew, also known as Richard H. Walthew (4 November 1872 – 14 November 1951) was an English composer and pianist.

Richard Henry Walthew was born in Islington in Middlesex, the only son of Richard Frederick Walthew and his wife, Emily the daughter of Charles Jeffreys Esq. He was a pupil of Hubert Parry for four years at the Royal College of Music (1890–1894). He taught the opera class at the Guildhall School of Music and from 1907 was Professor of Music at The Queen's College, Oxford.[1]

Walthew had a natural affinity for chamber music and a long association with the South Place Sunday Concert series for which he wrote programme notes. He conducted the orchestra there and it was also where much of his chamber music was played. He also gave a series of lectures on the history and development of chamber music there; these lectures were published by Boosey and Co. in 1909. In the article on Walthew in Cobbett's Cyclopaedic Survey of Chamber Music (1929), Thomas Dunhill recorded his admiration for the refined, lyrical and unostentatious style of Walthew's writing, the suitability of his compositions for amateur performance, his special aptitude for writing for the piano and his energetic devotion to chamber music.

Walthew's early works were larger scale choral and orchestral pieces such as the Clarinet and Piano Concertos[2] and the Aladdin overture (1899). His "somewhat Gilbertian" one act operetta was composed in 1900 and received many performances, including a revival in the early 1930s with the BBC Theatre Orchestra conducted by John Ansell.[3]

But it was with chamber music that he made the greatest impression. His String Quartet in E major, his Mosaic in Ten Pieces for clarinet and piano, and his Trio in C minor for clarinet, violin and piano were all played at a South Place concert on Sunday 25 November 1900.[4]. The Mosaic pieces were later taken up by Lionel Tertis, swapping clarinet for viola, and in 1943 Walthew provided an orchestrated version for Tertis, intended for (but in the end not played at) the 1943 Proms. (This version was recorded by Dutton Epoch in 2016.)[5] His most successful chamber work was the Phantasy Quintet for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass, commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Musicians, dedicated to Walter Cobbett and published by Stainer and Bell in 1912. This was later revived by the composer at the marathon one thousandth South Place Sunday Concert in February 1927.[6] Among his educational piano works, the short piece "Sun and Shade" was chosen as one of ten test pieces for the Daily Express national piano playing competition in 1928, and recorded as a demonstration by William Murdoch.[7][8] The Prelude and Fugue (1945), originally written for strings, later transcribed for two clarinets and bassoon, has been reissued in recent times and recorded by The Trio Pleyel.[9]

Walthew died, aged 79, in East Preston, West Sussex. His son Richard Sidney Walthew also played the clarinet at many South Place concerts and went on to become principal clarinet of the City of Birmingham Orchestra in the 1930s, as well as principal clarinet of the BBC Midland Orchestra.[10] His grandson John Walthew is also a clarinettist.[11]

Selected works[edit]

  • The Enchanted Island, Operetta in one act (1900); libretto by R.H.U. Bloor
  • The Gardeners, Operetta (1906)
  • Aladdin, Overture and Entr'actes (1899)[12]
  • Friend Fritz, Overture[13]
  • Night Scenes
  • Table-Music, Suite in 4 movements for string orchestra
  • Variations in B
  • Caprice Impromptu for violin and orchestra[14]
  • Concerto for clarinet and orchestra (1902)[15]
  • Concerto for piano and orchestra (1894)
  • A Mosaic in Ten Pieces for viola and orchestra (1900, orchestrated 1943)[16]
Chamber music
  • Five Diversions for violin, viola and cello
  • Five Lyrical Pieces for string quartet
  • Four Bagatelles for clarinet and piano (1890s)
  • Four Meditations for clarinet and piano (two sets, 1897 and 1903)
  • Idyll for flute and piano[17]
  • Miniature Quartet for flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon
  • A Mosaic in Ten Pieces (with Dedication) for clarinet (or viola) and piano (1900)
  • Phantasy-Quintet in E minor and major for violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano (1912)[18]
  • Piano Trio in G major
  • Prelude and Fugue for two clarinets and bassoon[19]
  • Quartet for violin, viola, cello and piano
  • Quintet for violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano
  • Quintet for 2 violins, viola, cello and piano
  • Serenade-Sonata in F minor for viola or violin and piano (1925)[20]
  • Short Quintet for clarinet and string quartet in Eb (1917-18)[21]
  • Sonata in D for viola and piano (1938)[22]
  • Sonata for cello and piano
  • Sonata for violin and piano
  • String Quartet No. 1
  • String Quartet No. 2
  • String Quartet No. 3
  • String Trio No. 1
  • String Trio No. 2
  • Suite in F for clarinet (or viola) and piano (1899)[23]
  • Trio for 2 clarinets and bassoon (or bass clarinet)
  • Trio for clarinet (or violin), horn (or bassoon) and piano
  • Trio in C minor for violin, clarinet (or viola) and piano (1897)[24][22]
  • Triolet in E for oboe, clarinet and bassoon
  • Two Pieces: Regret and Conversation Galante for clarinet (or viola, or cello) and piano (1918)
  • Aubade (1907)
  • Sun and Shade (1928)
Choral and Vocal
  • Eight Songs of Richard Smekal, op 12
  • Eldorado, song (setting Edgar Allan Poe) (performed at the Proms, 1902 and 1930)
  • Ode to a Nightingale, Cantata
  • The Pied Piper of Hamlin, Cantata for soloists, chorus and orchestra
  • The Development of Chamber Music, London: Boosey & Co. (1909)



  1. ^ "Walthew, Richard Henry" (2001). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, 29 vols., edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell.
  2. ^ The Clarinet Concerto was never orchestrated in the composer's lifetime. Alfie Pugh has completed the orchestration and it was recorded by Robert Plane and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in 2020,
  3. ^ Radio Times, issue 457, 3 July 1932 p 42,
  4. ^ The Times, 27 November 1900, p 10
  5. ^ "Review". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  6. ^ Meadmore, W.S. (1927). The Story of a Thousand Concerts (1887-1927). London: South Place Ethical Society. p. 5.
  7. ^ "William Murdoch (piano) Complete Columbia Solo Electrical Recordings - APR 6029 [SG] Classical Music Reviews: October 2019 - MusicWeb-International". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  8. ^ "William Murdoch plays "Sun and Shade" on The Complete Columbia Solo Electrical Recordings (1925-1931) APR 6029 (2019)". YouTube. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  9. ^ "Sobeck, Hennessy & Carulli: 2 Clarinets & Bassoon". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  10. ^ Radio Times, issue 827, 6 August 1939, p 45,
  11. ^ Càise-dearg, Luch (11 November 2011). "Classical Journey: The Music of a Great British Composer and Pianist - Richard Henry Walthew - Played by his Grandson, Clarinettist John Walthew, with Composer and Pianist Josephine Pickering. Glenorchy Church Exmouth Wednesday 26 October". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  12. ^ "A digital realisation of the opening of Aladdin". YouTube. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Prom 04". BBC Music Events. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  14. ^ "Prom 43". BBC Music Events. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  15. ^ "Robert Plane to record with BBC Scottish and Martyn Brabbins". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ "Idyll: The English Flute Unheard". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Phantasy Quintet in E minor and major (Walthew, Richard Henry) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  19. ^ "Trio Pleyel". YouTube. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  20. ^ "Serenade-Sonata (Walthew, Richard Henry) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  21. ^ Notes to British Clarinet Quintets, CPO CX 7905 (2015)
  22. ^ a b "Trio in C minor (Walthew, Richard Henry) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  23. ^ "Suite in F major (Walthew, Richard Henry) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  24. ^ "Trio in C minor (1897), performance by P. López (violin), A. Cantarero (clarinet) and M. Álvarez (piano)". YouTube. Retrieved 28 July 2020.