Just as some composers probably brag out of proportion about their academic achievement, others, like William Walton, go to the other extreme and play up their self-taught qualities.
In fact, Walton had exemplary educational opportunities. Entering Christ’s Church, Oxford as a chorister at the age of ten, Walton hung around for a bachelor’s degree that he never finished.
After failing several important exams, Walton dropped out at the age of eighteen, living for a time on the largesse of his friends Edith, Osbert, and Sacheveral Sitwell.
Brilliant, talented, and quite wealthy, the Sitwells were the ideal patrons for a blossoming modernist like Walton. Edith’s rather bizarre poetry animates “Façade,” a piece that Walton called an “entertainment” for reciter and chamber ensemble.
The original vocalist was Edith herself, who read her poetry through a megaphone.