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Prelude and Fugue (The Spitfire)

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William Walton

William Walton (arr. Noble)

General Info

Year: 1961 / 2011
Duration: c. 7:38
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Band Music Pdf

Cost: Score and Parts - $100.00


1. Prelude - 3:46
2. Fugue - 4:18


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Snare Drum
  • Crash Cymbals



None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This music, written to accompany the film The First and the Few, was the film story of the designer of the Spitfire fighter aircraft, R. J. Mitchell. This work was lifted, almost bodily out of the film score: exceptionally (for film music) it needed hardly any modification to turn it into a first-rate concert piece.

The prelude, called by Stephen Lloyd "one of Walton's finest marches", is the music heard over the opening credit titles in the movie. A central lyrical solo depicts the exhaustion and dying by illness of the aircraft's designer R. J. Mitchell. The fugue is used to describe the making of the Spitfire, and then the patriotic march returns joined with the fugue to mark the completion of the fighter aircraft.

The majestic march-like drama of the Prelude is well-suited for graduation and other ceremonial events, and the total piece is a tour de force for contest performance.

-Program Note from publisher

Walton composed the music for the motion picture The First of the Few in 1942. At the end of 1942 he extracted and arranged the Spitfire Prelude and Fugue. The prelude is in the grand tradition of English marches with which Walton showed such skill. The fugue is derived from a sequence showing the assembly of the first Spitfire, with interwoven lines and counterpoint musically describing the intricate interaction of the mechanical parts as they come together. After a lyrical solo portraying the exhaustion of the plane’s creator, the march and fugue unite to accompany the completed plane’s triumphant launch.

- Program Note by Texas A&M University Wind Ensemble


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer


None discovered thus far.