Sir William Walton was born in Oldham, Lancashire in 1902, the son of a choirmaster and a singing-teacher. He became a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and then an undergraduate at the University. His first composition to attract attention was a piano quartet written at the age of sixteen. At Oxford he made the acquaintance of the Sitwells who gave him friendship, moral and financial support and in 1922 he collaborated with Edith in devising the
entertainment Facade. Less than ten years later, Osbert prepared the text of another masterwork, Belshazzar's Feast. From 1922 to 1927 Walton began to spend an increasing amount of time abroad, notably in Switzerland and Italy. The war years were devoted mainly to writing film and ballet scores and he became
established as amongst the greatest composers for the screen.
Michael Aston held an Exhibition for music at Cambridge University. After a short career in the Civil Service, he moved to Leeds, in 1979, and began a career as a freelance musician. A pianist specializing in accompaniment and piano duos, he taught piano and became involved in continuing education, presenting courses for the universities of Manchester, Nottingham, and Cambridge. He is a lifelong enthusiast for the music of William Walton, and has lectured widely on the subject and visited the
Walton estate in Italy. He has written about Walton for Classical Music magazine and edited a volume of the William Walton Edition, published by Oxford University Press. He is also the compiler of four volumes of piano duets published by OUP.show more