The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Today, Queen Elizabeth II of England marks 60 years on the throne. Do you know these 60 facts about her? What music should be played to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee? The Ear says Elgar. | February 6, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

OK, I’ll admit it: There is something endearing about Queen Elizabeth II (below), who today marks exactly 60 years of sitting on the throne.

The rest of the family, at least until the recent marriage of Prince Andrew and Kate Middleton (below), doesn’t quite seem to live up to the Queen’s dignified and very competent example.

Now, I am not particularly fond of royalty. I do not follow royalty and am not a feverish fan. In fact, I think that, for the most part, the French knew exactly what to do with royalty, as they demonstrated during the French Revolution. (If you think I’m being harsh, you would do well to remember the abusive privilege called the “rights of the lord” – the context of Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” — that is, to deflower any bride on her wedding night before her husband got the honor.)

I also recall the quip made by Egypt’s degenerate King Farouk (below), made in 1948 as he left for exile aboard a ship after the military coup by Nasser. “The whole world is in revolt. Soon there will be only five Kings left — the King of England, the King of Spades, The King of Clubs, the King of Hearts, and the King of Diamonds.”

Well, I am not taking bets about how long the British monarchy will survive. For quite a while, popular opinion seemed to be running against it. But recently, it seems to have recovered and regained its footing a bit.

Queen Elizabeth II has by all accounts done a pretty good and pretty fair job during her reign. As some of the newly-minted royals, including Princess Diana (below) and Princess Fergie, have found out, it is not as easy or plus a job as it looks.

Here are some little-known “60 Facts About 60 Years”:

And here is how she prepared on Sunday to mark the anniversary:

And here is a UK government site listing the various events:

Anyway, what music should mark The Anniversary?

I am tempted to say you can’t do better than the “Pomp and Circumstance” marches of Sir Edward Elgar (below). The most famous one, No. 1, is often used for graduations but is still best suited to royal processions. It is both stately and sentimental. So the marches do seem the perfect occasional music, matching fine music and the right mood. But of them all, I think No. 4 ( at bottom) is the most suited to this particular Queen and this particular occasion.

But there are other British composers who have honored royalty, including William Walton.

And there is the dramatic coronation scene, complete with church bells, from Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov.”

And there is a lot more.

Do you have a thought about Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years on the throne, which occurs today but which will be marked throughout 2012 and especially from June 2 to June 5?

Do you have a piece of music you would play and dedicate to her and her rule?

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. […] Image herunterladen More @ […]

    Pingback by Bilder Von Der Hochzeit In England Heute | | — September 12, 2019 @ 2:53 pm

  2. I actually think she deserves a rousing rendition of “Rule Britannia!” with all the verses and full orchestra, sung by male and female soloists, children’s chorus, and finally the raucous crowd at “the proms” at Prince Albert Hall.

    Comment by Ron McCrea — February 6, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

    • Well, the Empire has declined and Britannia isn’t ruling over very much these days. But it seems an appropriate choice although also not by a classical composer, as far as I know.
      But, then again, maybe Thomas Arne did write some “serous” music. I’ll check into it.
      PS: I as WRONG!
      I checked into it and it seems Thomas Arne did indeed compose a lot of classical or concert music, including overtures, symphonies and operas. So your choice stands all the more valid.

      Comment by welltemperedear — February 7, 2012 @ 8:18 am

      • And it’s Royal Albert Hall. Sorry.

        Comment by Ron McCrea — February 7, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

  3. I too adore “Jerusalem.”

    I remember The Beatles’ saucy tribute (was it at the end of the White Album?) — “Her Majesty’s a Pretty Nice Girl (But She Doesn’t Have a Lot to Say).”

    Comment by Ron McCrea — February 6, 2012 @ 10:14 am

    • Hi Ron,
      Glad we agree on”Jerusalem.” Great tune and hymn.
      I almost listed the Beatles tune — I think it is come at the end of “Abby Road” — but it didn’t have a classical connection.
      Yet how fitting it is, especially today.

      Comment by welltemperedear — February 6, 2012 @ 10:19 am

  4. Good Morning Jake–

    To help celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, I “nominate” OLD-HUNDREDTH PSALM TUNE–“All People that on Earth Do Dwell,” which Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote based on that classic hymn especially for her coronation in Westminster Abbey June 2, 1953. I remember seeing that service on TV here in the United States–pre-satellite even–broadcast via transatlantic cable. The Vaughan Williams piece has all the majesty worthy of the occasion–in particular a stunning fanfare!

    (And by the way, “Thanks” for all you do in the interest of promoting classical music.)

    Comment by David J. Susan — February 6, 2012 @ 9:06 am

    • Good morning, David,
      Thank you very much for the kind words about the blog.
      Readings and replies like yours encourage me and make me think I am making some headway.
      Anyway, I think your choice to mark the Queen’s 60th anniversary is an outstanding one, and one that I wasn’t aware of.
      Your choice of a hymn arranged by a serious composer also reminds of a one of my favorites: Sir Hubert Parry’s arrangement of “Jerusalem,” base don words by William bLake. It was also used touring the wedding of Prince Andrew and Kate Middleton, and I suspect may have been played at the Queen coronation.
      It was also used in the soundtrack to the wonderful movie “Chariots of Fire” (a line form the hymn) about British runners, anti-Semitism and the Olympics. Most of the soundtrack of electronic music is by Vagelis, but the real singing stirred one.
      Very moving tune and words with the wonderful sound of a crowdful (churchful) of Brits and an organ.
      Gives me shivers just thinking about it.

      Comment by welltemperedear — February 6, 2012 @ 9:15 am

      • The Old Hundredth would have an interesting overtone – it also forms the last movement of Paul Hindemith’s Trauermusik, written for the death of King George V.

        Comment by Mikko Utevsky — February 6, 2012 @ 11:34 am

      • Hi Mikko,
        I didn’t know that.
        But it IS an interesting and relevant connection.
        Thanks for filling us in.

        Comment by welltemperedear — February 6, 2012 @ 11:45 am

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