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The potential of music as a means of adding dignity and grandeur to state occasions has surely been lost on a few rulers in history. Portraits of antique kings and queens are more often admired (or the reverse) for their artistic qualities, as opposed to the enhancement in the status of their subjects they were originally intended to confer. Similarly, the appeal of ceremonial music from former ages is for modern listeners primarily aesthetic.
This 75-minute collection brings together music heard at a staggering variety of British royal occasions. Zadok the Priest has been included in every coronation service held in that building ever since the coronation of King George II and Queen Caroline in Westminster Abbey on 11 October 1727. There is music for the coronation of King James II in 1685 (Purcell’s I was glad), and a later setting of the same verses by Parry for the coronation of Edward VII in Westminster Abbey on 9 August 1902.
Of course, there’s music for Queen Elizabeth II – Walton’s Coronation Te Deum and Orb and Sceptre for the coronation on 2 June 1953 and Bliss’s march Welcome the Queen, which commemorated the return of the monarch from her Commonwealth tour in 1954.
The British national anthem hardly needs an introduction. Benjamin Britten’s distinctive arrangement was first performed in Leeds on 7 October 1961 and has been heard countless times since.
George Frideric Handel: Zadok the Priest (Coronation Anthem No.1, HWV 258)
Zadok the Priest (Coronation Anthem No.1, HWV 258)
Henry Purcell: March...Thou Knowest, Lord...Canzona
March...Thou Knowest, Lord...Canzona
Henry Purcell: I Was Glad (verse anthem), Z.19
I Was Glad (verse anthem), Z.19
Sir Arthur Bliss: Antiphonal fanfare for three brass choirs (1969)
Antiphonal fanfare for three brass choirs (1969)
Sir William Walton: Crown Imperial: A Coronation March
Crown Imperial: A Coronation March
Sir Hubert Parry: I Was Glad
I Was Glad
Sir Arnold Bax: Fanfare for the Wedding of Princess Elizabeth, 1947
Fanfare for the Wedding of Princess Elizabeth, 1947
Sir Arthur Bliss: Welcome the Queen
Welcome the Queen
Sir William Walton: Coronation Te Deum
Coronation Te Deum
Sir Edward Elgar: Imperial March, Op.32
Imperial March, Op.32
Sir William Walton: Orb and Sceptre
Orb and Sceptre
Anonymous: God Save The Queen
God Save The Queen
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.