Lament for Lady Walton

Lament for Lady Walton


norman lebrecht

March 23, 2010

Susana, widow of the composer William Walton, has died in the garden shrine she created in his memory at La Mortella, on the island of Ischia. She was 83.

Walton was twice her age when they met a press conference in Buenos Aires in 1948 and their marriage was neither equal nor easy. In her memoir, Behind the Facade, Susana relates that he introduced her to all his past mistresses when they reached London and forced her to have an abortion when she fell pregnant.

The act, illegal at the time, was performed furtively. She haemmorhaged and could have died, but never mentioned the episode again to her husband for fear it might distress him.

Composers’ wives are a special breed, the more so when they enter widowhood. Susana, after Walton’s death in 1983, garlanded his legacy in flowers.


  • Carole Heath says:

    When i visited Italy on holiday a few years ago i went to the Waltons gardens and house on Ischia called La Mortella. What a beautiful place it is. I had read a few days ago the sad news that Lady Walton had died, when i went to Ischia i saw her in a part of the gardens tending the some of the beautiful typical flower beds she was chating to some of the visitors and seemed a very friendly lady. I knew of her husband William Walton’s music as i am a fan of Laurence Olivier and Walton had written the musical score for Olivier’s Shakespeare films of Richard 111, Hamlet, and Henry V. When i went to La Mortella i saw photographs of Laurence Olivier with William Walton in an exhibition when they worked together on the films. And i think that Olivier was a close friend of the Waltons. William Walton was a very good composer and wrote music for the coronation of George V1, and Elizabeth 11 (Crown Imperial and Orb and Sceptre) I never knew of Susana Walton’s personal life ie the abortion she had many years ago and she became so ill after, and Walton’s mistresses saga that must have been very hard for her to come to terms with. I once saw William Walton on TV in an iterview he seemed a strange type of man, but many of these talented people often are.

  • Irene de Ischia says:

    lady walton here garden in forio ischia is magacial I lived in ischia a many visits to her beauiful garden which is something to behold when LADY WALTON was expecting guest to the garden if she saw a plant unhappy or a weed there she was her hands never stopped working what a gift to have giving so much to this garden in ischia I