The Passacaglia for solo Cello, one of Walton's last works, was commissioned by Mstislav Rostropovich and first performed in 1982. The short Tema, published for the first time, was written in 1970 as part of a collective composition for the Prince of Wales.
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.
Tema (per Variazioni) per Cello Solo ; Passacaglia for Violoncello Solo