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Facade

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William Walton

William Walton


Subtitle: An Entertainment


General Info

Year: 1922 / 1951
Duration: c. 50:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - Rental   |   Score Only (print) - $41.50


Movements

1. Fanfare
2. Hornpipe
3. Em Famille
4. Mariner Man
5. Long Steel Grass
6. Through Gilded Trellises
7. Tango-Pasodoble
8. Lullaby for Jumbo
9. Black Mrs. Behemoth
10. Tarentella
11. A Man from a Far Countree
12. By the Lake
13. Country Dance
14. Polka
15. Four in the Morning
16. Something in the Morning
17. Valse
18. Jodelling Song
19. Scotch Rhapsody
20. Popular Song
21. Old Sit Faulk
s 22. Sir Beelsebub


Instrumentation

Full Score
Flute (doubles Piccolo)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet (doubles Bass Clarinet and Eb Clarinet)
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet
Cello
Percussion, including:

  • Castanets
  • Chinese Blocks
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Jingles
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle

Reciter


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Façade marked the entry upon the English musical scene of a young man who might be thought an unlikely candidate to become one of the foremost twentieth-century British composers. The heavily jazz-influenced music and often incomprehensible spoken words fell as a cacophony on the ears of those present, like nothing they had heard before.

“Edith Sitwell wrote her Façade poems as studies in word-rhythms and onomatopoeia," writes Michael Kennedy, Walton’s biographer. Each of the Sitwells claimed the inspiration of setting the poems to music for a sort of drawing room entertainment, but it was a natural idea, as they had a house composer. The poems, abstract, with references from Queen Victoria to Greek goddesses to English music halls and Spanish lovers, are full of "dissonances and assonances” with some allusions to the poet’s unhappy childhood as well as to her birth by wild seas (at Scarborough). The witty music takes its tone from the poems, following the idea that Sitwell was writing primarily for sound, rather than meaning, and echoing those sounds.

Façade has been performed as a ballet, two orchestral suites (by the composer), and songs, and continues to be presented as an entertainment for narrator(s) and musicians. Several suites and songs have been arranged by other composers. Not necessarily music typical of later Walton, it nevertheless displays his characteristic sense of rhythm and elegant style and remains one of his most popular compositions. Façade, described by Constant Lambert in Music Ho as having one good tune after another, begins with a brief fanfare which sets the tone, then moves quickly into the Hornpipe, for which Walton used a jaunty sea shanty. (The music, except for the Hornpipe, is mostly original although the Tango — Pasodoble, which Walton considered one of the best of the pieces, is a parody of a popular music hail song: I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside.) En Famille, like Through Gilded Trellises and other pieces sprinkled throughout, is languid, evoking birdsong and the summer walks.

Lambert praises the tarantella and the waltz as excellent examples of each type of music. Polka is a lively polka, with the sound of a hurdy-gurdy heard as the lyrics mention that instrument beloved of the Victorians, and the Jodelling Song’s reference to William Tell could hardly be more deliberately alpine.

Our attention is demanded by the trumpet and clarinet beginning Something Lies Beyond the Scene, which shortly turns into a jazzy romp. Others in which the music clearly carries out lyrics and title include Popular Song and Scotch Rhapsody, with a definite Scotch snap and the clear sound of bagpipes when they are mentioned in the poem. The popular Fox-Trot ‘Old Sir Folk’ refers to the father of Edith Sitwell’s childhood friends who was tall and stork-like (but who may not have danced a fox trot!).

References to the sea abound throughout, both in the poems in which water is mentioned and generally. These poems and music are meant to be savored as sound — meanings unclear or abstract, but beautifully integrated.

- Program Note by Jane Erb


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer


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