Friday, November 4, 2011

Walton: First Symphony

Sir Hamilton Harty
Today I offer the first recording of William Walton's First Symphony, by the man who commissioned it, Sir Hamilton Harty (1879-1941).  The ink was barely dry on the score when the recording was made - or at least, barely dry on the finale, for Walton had completed the first three movements, and Harty had conducted them, in December 1934, before the finale was finished!  Then, in November, 1935, the completed work was finally played by the BBC Symphony under Harty, and a mere month later, this recording was made, with the London Symphony.  It was a rare honor for a British symphony to be recorded soon after its première; even Vaughan Williams' Fourth Symphony, completed the same year, had to wait two years for its first recording:

Walton: Symphony No. 1 in B-Flat minor (1935)
London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Hamilton Harty
Recorded December 9 and 10, 1935
English Decca X 108 through 113, six 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 98.94 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 43.88 MB)

The Walton Symphony is a new transfer.  Back in 2008 I offered these two acoustically recorded sets featuring the not-yet-knighted Hamilton Harty, one as conductor and one as pianist:

Bach: Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067, for flute and strings
Robert Murchie, flute, with orchestra conducted by Hamilton Harty
Recorded January 20, 1924
English Columbia L 1557 and 1558, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 45.79 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 17.31 MB)

Brahms: Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114
H. P. Draper, clarinet; W. H. Squire, cello; Hamilton Harty, piano
Recorded October 21, 1924
English Columbia L 1609 through 1611, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 74.98 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 30.35 MB)

Both are first recordings of these works; the Bach Suite is slightly abridged (64 bars cut from the fast section of the Ouverture, and the return of the slow section omitted altogether).


  1. Thanks, Bryan - I have wanted to hear this version of the Walton symphony.

  2. Great! Harty deserves some attention! Thanks for this upload!