Sep 15, 2022 15:04
Although this role dates back to 1626, the history of the Crown’s involvement in British music production goes much further back.
The current Master of Kings Music was appointed in 2014. Judith Weir was the first woman to hold the post, and she follows a long and prolific line of musicians to wear that mantle nearly 400 years ago.
Judith Weir was nominated for the throne by her predecessor, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and served Queen Elizabeth II as Her Majesty’s Master of Music until the monarch’s death in 2022.
Now, after Charles III ascends to the throne, Weir will become Master of King’s Music until the end of his term in 2024.
read more: Guide to Queen Elizabeth II’s contribution to classical music and art
What does the King’s Music Master do?
The King’s Master of Music is part of the royal family and is practically the musical equivalent of the Poet Laureate. The post was created in 1626 with the appointment of Nicolas Lanier by Charles I.
At the time, the title used the Old English spelling of “Musick”, the “k” being dropped only during Edward Elgar’s tenure in the early 20th century.
Until 2004, Master of the King’s Music was a lifelong appointment and the titleholder was chosen only after the death of his predecessor. Elizabeth II made a 10-year appointment.
The King’s Musical Master has no clearly defined set of responsibilities, and each owner of the title shapes it to his own taste.
For centuries it has been commonly expected to provide music for prestigious royal occasions such as coronations, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and funerals.
read more: What are the lyrics and composer of the British national anthem?
Who are the most famous masters of King’s music?
The role of Master of the Kings Music has changed considerably over the years. His two musicians who followed after Nicolas Lanier were not particularly good composers. Instead, they commissioned more capable musical partners, such as Henry Purcell, to write music for royal events.
John Eccles, who played the part in 1700, was a noted composer and had a major presence on the Restoration theatrical scene, but even he wrote an Ode for Queen Anne’s Birthday. He continued to commission other composers, including Handel, who
Another court task entrusted to the King’s Master of Music was to write the music to accompany the court odes written by the Poet Laureate.
During William Shield’s tenure from 1817, then-Poet Laureate Robert Southey could not stand this part of the job. He broke with this tradition at the earliest opportunity, with the death of King George III in 1820.
George III’s successor, King George IV, maintained a court orchestra, whose conducting became the primary responsibility of the Master of Royal Music, with occasional composition duties along the way.
read more: All music played and composed to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
early modern court music
In a way, the great English composer Edward Elgar has to thank the role for so long to this day. After the death of former master Sir Walter Parratt in 1924, many argued for the abolition of the post, as there was no longer any demand for the court orchestra or royal odes.
Close to the royal family, Elgar was a key figure in advocating for the continuation of the position. Not only that, but it seems that he also insisted on his own appointment.
Other names were suggested, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, but George V eventually agreed to keep the role, and indeed appointed Elgar.
Elgar was no longer strictly required to write music as a master, but he wrote his own songs. Nursery Suite In 1931 he dedicated it to the young princesses Margaret and the future Queen Elizabeth.
Rather than acting as court composer, Elgar acted as an adviser to the king on how the royal family should be involved in music. He organized the Royal Music Library, secured recognition and knighthood for other musicians, advised on the establishment of the National Opera Company, and ensured that the National Broadcaster used the correct version of the national anthem.
Later, when Sir Arthur Bliss took office in 1953, he composed music for Winston Churchill’s funeral, the Queen’s 1953 coronation and her twenty-ninth birthday, and the birth of the Queen’s children. I returned to my composing role.
read more: What music was played at Her Majesty’s coronation?
Who are the current and former masters of King’s Music?
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies was appointed Master of Queens Music in 2004. His work as a master saw him compose works for royal occasions, including the annual Christmas carol during his tenure.
Maxwell Davies’ tenure also saw a return to a closer relationship between the Queen’s Master of Music and Poet Laureate, with Maxwell Davies writing a poem by Andrew Motion for the Queen’s 80th birthday. was set to music.
It was during his tenure that the Queen’s Order of Music was created, based on Maxwell Davis’ own ideas. Annual awards have been given to Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Bryn Terfel, Nicola Benedetti and others.
Judith Weir, the current music master of the King, had actually recommended someone else for the job, so it may have come as a surprise that she herself was appointed.
Weir made history in 2014 as the first woman appointed to the role.talk Guardian When her appointment was first announced, she made it clear that, to her, the role was not about her compositional feats.
Instead, she preferred to champion the country’s music scene, empower fellow composers, build musical education, and support the future of the country’s music scene.
Weir’s term ends in 2024, and only time will tell who will take over the role next.