In honour of Victoria Day, we thought we’d share a few pieces of classical music inspired by Kings, Queens and other Royalty! With such an abundance of music that meets this criteria, picking favourites is a difficult task. Instead, we’ve chosen four pieces that all have interesting Royalty origin stories.
GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL – WATER MUSIC
Handel composed plenty of works for British Monarch, his four Coronation anthems are a perfect example, but perhaps the most popular and enduring are his Water Music Suites. They are a set of three separate suites, written at the request of King George I, for a concert held on the River Thames. The concert took place on July 17th of 1717. King George I and several aristocrats boarded a royal barge at Whitehall Palace for an excursion up the Thames toward Chelsea. Several Londoners joined the excursion and enjoyed Handel’s glorious music, performed by a full orchestra, ringing out over the open water!
MOZART – THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO
Anyone who has seen the film Amadeus will know the royal-ties to this Mozart opera. It was commissioned by the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. He created the Nationalsingspiel, an opera company dedicated to the performance of German-language Opera in an era when nearly all Opera was written and performed in Italian. In the long run, the Nationalsingspiel was not a great success. Most of their performances were dubious translations of operas originally written other languages – but they did have one original standout success, Mozart’s Abduction From the Seraglio.
SIR EDWARD ELGAR – CORONATION ODE
It’s no surprise that music from Sir Edward Elgar is on this list, after all, he was appointed Master Of The King’s Musick in 1924. Many of his pieces were commissioned or inspired by the Royal Family. His Coronation Ode written to King Edward VII in 1902 stands out. It was dedicated “by Special Permission, to His Most Gracious Majesty King Edward VII”. It draws from one of Elgar’s most famous compositions, The Pomp and Circumstance Marches. The future King thought it would be a good idea to add lyrics to the tune from trio section of the first Pomp and Circumstance March, and Elgar agreed.
JOHANN STRAUSS II – KAISER-WALZER (THE EMPEROR WALTZ)
This Waltz was debatably written for two monarchs! It was originally written to celebrate a visit by Austrian emperor Franz Josef to the German Kaiser Wilhelm II. The piece was meant to be a “toast of friendship” extended by Austria to Germany. ‘ Johann Strauss’ publisher, Fritz Simrock, suggested the title Kaiser-Walzer as an ambiguous title that could allude to either monarch, satisfying the vanity and egos of both rulers!