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The University of Southampton

World renowned pianist explores the music of Wellington

Published: 12 October 2018
Pianist David Owen Norris
Professor David Owen Norris playing Wellington's piano at Apsley House

Pianist, composer, broadcaster and University of Southampton professor David Owen Norris will perform live for the Wellington Lecture 2018 – playing and speaking about music associated with Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington.

The event, held annually at the University, is celebrating its 30th year and this year will take the form of a musical celebration, featuring a variety of pieces by composers, such as Beethoven, Rossini, Chopin, and the Earl of Mornington.

Accompanied by Southampton singing students and members of the Southampton University Symphony OrchestraProfessor Owen Norris will explore the multi-faceted musical world of Wellington.

He says: “Even in the cradle, the Duke of Wellington heard his father trying out his compositions. Later, the Duke’s musical interests gave political cartoonists a useful metaphor. Rossini played for him at Apsley, and it was Wellington who escorted Queen Victoria to hear Chopin play. Wellington’s musical world fills in a new aspect of our picture of the man.”

The Duke’s name attached itself to many pieces of music. John Clare’s manuscript book of violin tunes contains a jig entitled Marquis Wellington, while Beethoven’s orchestral piece Wellington’s Victory (after the Battle of Vitoria in 1814) made its composer more money than any other work.

Princess Charlotte of Wales composed Lord Wellington’s March. Its sumptuous gold-leafed manuscript is preserved amongst the papers of the Duke’s valet, held in Special Collections at the University’s Hartley Library. A recording of the piece performed by Professor Owen Norris on Wellington’s own piano at the Duke’s former home of Apsley House will be played at the lecture.

The event will also include a piano sonata inspired by the Battle of Bella Rosa (the Spanish name for Waterloo), The Marquis of Wellington’s Victory at Salamanca by Mathias Holst, great-grandfather of the composer of The Planets and speeches by the Duke, set to music by Owen Norris in his 2015 political oratorio, Turning Points.

David Owen Norris has performed all over the world since his appointment as the first ever Gilmore Artist in 1991, an award which recognises extraordinary piano artistry. He has written many compositions, including a symphony and a piano concerto. His Chord of the Week programmes on BBC2 are a popular feature of the Proms and his many radio presentations have included the Playlist series on BBC Radio 4, and In Tune and The Works on BBC Radio 3.

‘The 30th Wellington Lecture: A concert for a Duke’ takes place at 1800 at the Turner Sims concert venue on the University of Southampton’s Highfield campus on Wednesday 17 October 2018.

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