master of the king's music

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master of the king's music (master of the queen's music). The title of the director of the monarch's private musicians. Inaugurated by Charles I in 1625 and first held by Nicholas Lanier, the post developed during the Restoration to include the direction of Charles II's band of 24 violins. Nowadays, however, the duties merely involve composing occasional works for state or royal events. Holders of the title have included John Eccles (1700–35), Maurice Greene (1735–55), William Boyce (1755–79), John Stanley (1779–86), William Shield (1817–29), Edward Elgar (1924–34), Arnold Bax (1942–52), Arthur Bliss (1953–75), and, since 1975, Malcolm Williamson.

Eric Cross