Platinum Jubilee Music: 15 Best Classical Pieces to Celebrate Her Majesty


As Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations begin, here are 15 brilliant music tracks to accompany your plans.

Whether your plans include a trip to the Derby, a street party, a visit to Buckingham Palace or something a little different over Jubilee weekend, here are 15 classical music tracks to help get your celebrations started on a good foot.

From Elgar and Walton, to Parry and more, there’s plenty of jubilant music, with plenty of royal connections.

  • Holst – I swear my country

    There are few hymns more moving than this. You might recognize the catchy melody of “Jupiter,” the fourth movement of Holst’s orchestral suite The planets. Holst named the tune “Thaxted” after the small village in Essex where he lived most of his life, and in 1921 set a poem by Sir Cecil Spring Rice to music.

  • Handel – Zadok the Priest

    Originally composed for the coronation of King George II of England in 1727, Zadok the Priest has been sung at every coronation ceremony since. Scored for orchestra and full choir, a short orchestral section builds into a forceful choral statement, complete with brass fanfare and beating timpani. A jubilant musical celebration, worthy of any coronation or jubilee.

    Read more: What are the words of “Zadok the priest”?

  • Elgar – Land of Hope and Glory

    With music taken from the first of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance marches, “Land of Hope and Glory” is set to the words of Arthur Christopher Benson. It was King Edward VII who first came up with the idea, telling Elgar he thought the melody would work well for a set of lyrics. Later that year, when Elgar was asked to write music for the King’s Coronation, he used the same melody as the chorus alongside Benson’s lyrics.

    Read more: What are the lyrics to “Land of Hope and Glory”?

  • Handel – Water Music

    How many composers can say their music was created on a houseboat? Well, that’s at least one. Handel water music suite received its first performance on July 17, 1717, floating along the Thames at the request of King George I. The King and company boarded one boat and about 50 musicians piled into another. King George was apparently so impressed with Handel’s music that he asked for the piece to be played over and over again, from Whitehall to Chelsea and back.

  • Elgar-Nimrod

    In February 1899, Elgar completed his Variations of puzzles, 14 musical profiles, each dedicated to an important person (or pet!) in their life. The ninth, nicknamed ‘Nimrod’, is dedicated to music publisher Augustus J. Jaeger. According to the story, Jaeger had visited Elgar during a bout of depression and urged him not to give up, singing a theme from Beethoven’s “Pathétique” piano sonata. So when Elgar put pen to paper, he hid a sonata reference at the very beginning of the majestic theme.

  • Parade – Jerusalem

    Using text from an 1804 poem by William Blake, Hubert Parry’s Jerusalem was written in 1916 and re-orchestrated by Elgar six years later as a tribute to the elder composer, who died in 1918. It is this version that is best known today, having been adopted as the anthem. It was sung at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, and was even once suggested as an alternative national anthem to “God Save the Queen”.

    Read more: What are the words to the anthem “Jerusalem”, and is it the national anthem of England?

  • Walton – Imperial Crown

    Written for the coronation of King George VI in 1937, the aptly named William Walton Imperial Crown is a stately march that makes full use of the percussion, brass and high wind sections. When commissioned, Walton’s mandate was to write something in the style of Elgar Pump and circumstance (Elgar being unavailable due to his death a few years earlier). Since its creation, Imperial Crown was performed on various state occasions at Westminster Abbey, including the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

    Read more: What music was played at Her Majesty The Queen’s coronation?

  • Coleridge-Taylor – African Suite

    Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was one of the finest British composers of his time, having studied at the Royal College of Music under Charles Villiers Stanford, who would later conduct the premiere of his most famous piece, The Hiawatha Wedding Feast. The fourth movement of his African Suite‘Negro Dance’, is a sparkling and joyful piece for orchestra. Its brass fanfares, rhythmic chimes and sublime strings make it the perfect choice for jubilee celebrations.

  • Coates – March of the Dambusters

    Eric Coates March of the Dambusters is known as film music, but that was not what it was originally composed for. According to Coates’ son Austin, his father had actually written the walk in Elgar’s style before he was approached by the film’s producers. Luckily, Coates’ march couldn’t have been a better fit, and it remains a flypast favorite to this day.

  • Handel – Arrival of the Queen of Sheba

    Excerpt from act 3 of Handel’s oratorio, Solomon‘Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ is a piece for two oboes and strings that is popular at processions, wedding ceremonies, and was notably used at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games when Daniel Craig ( like James Bond) met The Queen at Buckingham Palace.

  • Weir – Love Welcomed Me

    Judith Weir provides a moment of calm and stillness in an otherwise busy affair. Appointed Master of the Queen’s Music in 2014, she was the first woman to hold the position, having been the third person to receive the Queen’s Medal for Music, in 2007.

    Read more: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Contribution to Classical Music

  • Clarke – Trumpet Volunteer

    Originally thought to be composed by Henry Purcell, Trumpet volunteer was written in 1700 by Jeremiah Clarke, who was the first organist appointed to St Paul’s Cathedral after it was rebuilt following the Great Fire of London. The piece is said to have been written for Queen Anne’s husband, the Prince of Denmark, and is popular today as wedding music, particularly since it performed at the nuptials of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 .

  • Handel – Music for the Royal Fireworks

    Handel Music for the Royal Fireworks was written in 1749 at the request of King George II, to accompany a firework display in London’s Green Park. The original work is for winds and percussion only, as King George had requested that there be “no violins”, which Handel was not particularly pleased with. He re-scored the sequel the following month, for a performance at Foundling Hospital.

  • Hewitt Jones – At our service

    Commissioned by the Royal School of Church Music, British composer Thomas Hewitt Jones has composed a new choral piece to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The moving anthem is designed to be sung by professional and amateur singers everywhere, with lyrics inspired by the Queen’s royal speeches over the past 70 years.

  • Handel – Hallelujah Chorus

    A celebration as jubilant as this would hardly be complete without one of the most celebratory pieces of music ever written. The ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Handel’s oratorio Messiah is a driving choral masterpiece, with a centuries-old tradition of spectators on their feet when they hear it, apparently after King George II rose to their feet at its London premiere.

    Read more: We Can’t Stop Watching These Hilarious “Silent Monks” Sing the Hallelujah Chorus

  • Share.

    About Author

    Comments are closed.