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Happy Victoria Day Weekend! Celebrate with these 10 Great Songs Written for Royalty

Happy Victoria Day Weekend! Celebrate with these 10 Great Songs Written for Royalty featured image

1. Alexa Petrenko, host of Sunday Night at the Opera chose
Charles Hubert Parry – I was Glad. This famous anthem was written for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 and has been sung at every coronation since. This spectacular and celebratory choral work was sung at the processional in Westminster Abbey for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 as well as the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.”

2. Maestro Kerry Stratton, host of The Oasis and Conductor’s Choice recommended
Tchaikovsky – Festival Overture on the Danish National Hymn. Written for a royal wedding between the Tsar Alexander III and his Danish Princess bride-to-be (the future Tsarina Maria Fedorovna). The trust these members of the ruling family had in the composer is remarkable, given that he was still a young man at the start of his musical career, although they stiffed him for his fee and sent him a pair of gold cufflinks which he promptly hocked.


3. Jean Stilwell, co-host of Classical Mornings with Mike and Jean chose “Handel- Zadok the Priest. I selected it because when I sang in the Mendelssohn choir, we sang it on a regular basis because it is beautiful. The harmonies are stunning and the piece is as majestic as it should be.” The English anthem which was composed for the coronation of King George II in 1727. It has has been sung during the anointing of the sovereign at the coronation of every British monarch since its composition and has even become recognized as a British patriotic anthem.”

4. Kathleen Kajioka, host of A Little Night Music says “she’s always looking for an excuse to spotlight the music of Henry Purcell, perhaps the greatest composer ever to be born in England. He was a favourite of William and Mary, and was requested on numerous occasions to write odes in honour of the Queen’s birthday. “Come ye sons of Art” is in nine movements, including a vibrant overture, and the fantastic aria, “Strike the viol.” It was written in 1694, and is the 6th and last ode Purcell would write for Mary – she died a few months later. The 34-year-old Purcell would himself die the following year, much too soon.”

5. Something you can expect to see this Victoria Day long weekend is Fireworks! Handel – Music for the Royal Fireworks was composed in 1749 at the behest of King George II of Great Britain for the great fireworks display celebrating the signing of the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. This signing would conclude the War of the Austrian Succession on October 18, 1748.

6. Edward Elgar – Land of Hope and Glory is a British patriotic song written in 1902. The words were fitted to the melody on the suggestion of King Edward VII who told Elgar he thought the melody would make a great song. When Elgar was requested to write a work for the King’s coronation, he worked the suggestion into his Coronation Ode, for which he asked the poet and essayist A. C. Benson to write the words. Due to the King’s illness, the coronation was postponed. Elgar created a separate song, which was first performed by Madame Clara Butt in June 1902.

7. Johan Strauss II – Kaiser-Walzer, Op. 437 (Emperor Waltz) is a waltz composed in 1889 originally titled Hand in Hand and was intended as a toast made in August of that year by Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. It was to celebrate the occasion of his visit to the German Kaiser Wilhelm II and was symbolic as a ‘toast of friendship’ extended by Austria to Germany. Strauss’ publisher, Fritz Simrock, suggested the title Kaiser-Walzer since the title could allude to either monarch, and thus satisfy the vanity of both rulers.

8. King Arthur, subtitled The British Worthy, is an opera in five acts, with a libretto by John Dryden and music by Henry Purcell. The opera was first performed at the Queen’s Theatre, Dorset Garden, London, in early summer of 1691. The plot is based on King Arthur’s battles between the Saxons and the Britons, rather than the legends of Camelot (although Merlin does make an appearance). The action is more in the mode of pantomime than drama, including such characters as Cupid, Honour, and Venus plus the more Nordic gods Woden, Thor, and Freya. The tale centres greatly on Arthur’s endeavours to recover his fiance, the blind Cornish Princess Emmeline, who has been abducted by his arch-enemy, the Saxon King Oswald of Kent.

9. Crown Imperial is an orchestral march by the English composer William Walton. Walton derived the march’s title from the line “In beawtie berying the crone imperiall” from William Dunbar’s poem “In Honour of the City of London”. The march was first performed at the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and was substantially revised in 1953. Walton originally composed the march for performance at the coronation of King Edward VIII, scheduled for 12 May 1937, but Edward abdicated in 1936.

10. This one is a little different as it was not composed for but rather by royalty…There is a persistent belief that Greensleeves was composed by Henry VIII for his lover and future queen consort Anne Boleyn. Boleyn allegedly rejected King Henry’s attempts to seduce her, and this rejection may be referred to in the song when the writer’s love “cast me off discourteously”. However, the piece is based on an Italian style of composition that did not reach England until after Henry’s death, making it more likely Elizabethan in origins.

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