Sir William Turner Walton OM (29 March 1902 – 8 March 1983) was an English composer. During a sixty-year career, he wrote music in several classical genres and styles, from film scores to opera. His best-known works include Façade, the cantata Belshazzar's Feast, the Viola Concerto and the First Symphony.
Born in Oldham, Lancashire, the son of a musician, Walton was a chorister and then an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford. On leaving the university, he was taken up by the literary Sitwell siblings, who provided him with a home and a cultural education. His earliest work of note was a collaboration with Edith Sitwell, Façade, which at first brought him notoriety as a modernist, but later became a popular ballet score.
The "Spitfire Prelude and Fugue" was arranged and extracted in 1942 from music he had written for the motion picture "The First of the Few" earlier that year. The prelude, called by Stephen Lloyd "one of Walton’s finest marches", is the music heard over the opening credit titles in the movie. The fugue is used to describe the making of the Spitfire; a central lyrical violin solo depicts the exhaustion and dying by illness of the aircraft’s designer R. J. Mitchell, and then the patriotic march returns joined with the fugue to mark the completion of the fighter aircraft.
In 1947, John Huntley wrote of the composition, "The Prelude is a patriotic, resounding piece of good orchestration; simple in construction, it makes ideal film music".
"And what IS the Spitfire?", some my ask.
It is, in the minds of many, the greatest combat airplane of all time. It was the plane that saved England in the Battle of Britain, and helped to turn the tide in WWII.
When Hitler asked Göring what he would need to win the battle, his response was: "Spitfires..."
This arrangement was made by Dennis Morrell, and was published by OUP in 1966.