Classical 91.5

Music for Queen Victoria

Jan 13, 2017

As queen of England for 63 years, Victoria had a fair amount of music written and performed for her.  

Music meant more to her than just something accompany the pomp and circumstance of coronations and jubilees. 

Prince Albert, Queen Victoria, and Felix Mendelssohn

Victoria grew up playing the piano. She also sang, and loved going to the theater. Prince Albert, her husband, played piano and composed. It is said that after she proposed to him, he serenaded her with music that he had written - and she sang along.  

Albert and Victoria became friends with Felix Mendelssohn, with whom they were able to spend several evenings making music.  You can read the very charming stories of their meetings in this article by Reuben Vincent.

Jenna Coleman as Victoria on Masterpiece

The new Masterpiece program "Victoria" premieres on WXXI TV this Sunday, January 15th at 9pm.  The music you'll hear in the show is by Martin Phipps (and in later episodes by Ruth Barrett). Here are a few pieces of music associated with Queen Victoria.

1. Felix Mendelssohn, Song without Words, Op. 85, No. 6  
Mendelssohn arranged this as a duet, for Albert and Victoria to play together

2. Johann Strauss Sr. "Homage to Queen Victoria"  
Written for Queen Victoria's Coronation Ball in 1838

3. Felix Mendelssohn, Wedding March from A Midsummer Night's Dream
This music is commonly heard at weddings today. The fad for Mendelssohn's Wedding March started when it was used at the wedding of Queen Victoria's daughter, also named Victoria, to Emperor Frederick III of Prussia in 1858. (hat tip to Julia Figueras for pointing out this connection!)

4. Prince Albert, Lieder
A collection of songs written by Prince Albert, recorded on the album Music of Albert: Prince of Saxe, Coburg, and Gotha 

5. Princess Lili'uokalani, The Queen's Jubilee 
Written for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Princess Lili'oukalani traveled with Queen Kapi'olani from Hawaii to England for Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887 and wrote this song while she was there.

6. Arthur Sullivan, Victoria and Merrie England
For Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) wrote a grand Jubilee Anthem.A decade later, he took a very different approach to writing music for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Only a few selections survive from the light-hearted ballet he wrote for the festivities in 1897.


7. Martin Phipps, Victoria: Title Music