William Walton’s Five Bagateles for Guitar

Orlando Fraga

William Walton felt close to jazz, especially between 1923-24 when he was immersed in it. He wrote and scored fox-trots for the Savoy Orpheus Band, in London, in order to make money, and wrote a Concerto for 2 Pianos, Jazz Band and Orchestra, which are actually lost. This might explains the strongest jazz-style influence on the Five Bagatelles. In the summer of 1970, Walton began to transcribe the guitar accompaniment of his song-cycle ANON. IN LOVE for orchestra.  Later in the same year, his main concern was a commission from Julian Bream, who claimed a guitar solo piece by Walton since the first performance of ANON. IN LOVE, which was dedicated to Bream himself and Peter Pears.
Malcoln Arnold reported in January 1971, that “Sir William, after five weeks of work on the Bagatelles, had only the first six notes, all to be played on open strings.” “Not all that good”- mused Walton. Julian Bream played Bagatelle No. 2, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on February 13, 1972 and Nos. 1 and 3, at a TV program hold in March 29 for Walton’s 70th birthday. The complete set was first played at the Bath Festival on May 27, and the London first performance was on January 21, 1973. The edition bears the dedication “to Malcoln Arnold with admiration and affection for his 50th birthday.” In 1976, Walton received a commission from The Festival Hall. He decided that, instead of a new work he would transcribe the Five Bagatelles for full orchestra…)

William Walton’s Five Bagateles for Guitar

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