program notes by composition > P > Prelude to "Richard III"

Prelude to “Richard III”

William Walton/arr. Paul Noble

Prelude to “Richard III” was composed for a British film adaptation of Shakespeare's historical play (sometimes considered a tragedy) which was written in approximately 1592. The 1955 film was directed and produced by Sir Laurence Olivier, who also played the lead role.

The film depicts Richard plotting and conspiring to grasp the throne from his brother King Edward IV. In the process, many are killed and betrayed, with Richard's evil leading to his own downfall.

William Walton (1902–1983) was an English composer who wrote in several classical genres and styles, from film scores to opera, over a sixty-year career. His better-known compositions include “Crown Imperial,” written for the coronation of George VI in 1937; and in 1953 following the accession of Elizabeth II, the coronation march “Orb and Sceptre” and a choral setting of the “Te Deum.” Walton was knighted in 1951.