Master of the King’s Musick is managing a transition

Master of the King’s Musick is managing a transition


norman lebrecht

September 18, 2022

When Judith Weir received the Royal Command in 2014, she was the first woman ever to serve as Master of the Queen’s Musick, a title that dates back to 1626.

No-one proposed, then or now, to modify the term Master in a manner that made it more gender inclusive.

This week, Judith became Master of the King’s Musick, a significant change of title, if not of function.

She tells the Washington Post: ‘ I think most of us have grown up with, as we knew him, Prince Charles. He actually is a most unusual lover of classical music. He was a cellist in his youth, played in college orchestra and really intensely loves classical music. He’s made some very touching statements when interviewed about his interests and has made it clear that it’s absolutely top of the list. I don’t expect there to be less interest in what we musicians do, and I’m sort of anticipating that there’s a chance for us to do even more, once he gets over the huge backlog of work he has to do.’


  • Herbie G says:

    I don’t think ‘Mistress of the King’s Musik’ would be quite in order – it might cause some confusion…

    • Armchair Bard says:

      Indeed so, Herbie. And of course the pianist Harriet Cohen, as long-time lover of Sir Arnold Bax, once held the post of Mistress of the Master of the King’s Music.

      • Herbie G says:

        Brilliant, Armchair Bard – that’s really made my day!

        • Armchair Bard says:

          Glad to be of service, sir. Talking of which: I didn’t catch the Last Post at the end of HMQ’s funeral. In fact nobody did – it was listed on the song sheet as preceding Reveille (‘Come to the cook-house door’) but they played something else in its stead. Anyone hear it, know what it was?

          • Armchair Bard says:

            OK. Apparently it was *A* Last Post; not, as advertised, THE Last Post. But then the orders of service were a riot of excessive, redundant, otiose, plethoritical & over-capitalised definite articles.

            For those interested (I am, almost) it seems to go like this. Last Post as played for Brenda: an unsuitably vigorous not to say non-descript E flat cavalry trumpet-call (Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Artillery, ‘used at Commonwealth military funerals’). For le gratin, then.

            The Last Post we know and love: a B flat bugle-call (British Infantry regiments). For the riff-raff, then. But it gets my vote and proper wrings me withers any day. Protocol, bah!

            Source: Military Wiki

  • torches and pitchforks says:

    Given Charly’s treatment of Diana, we wouldn’t exactly want to call her the Mistress of Music, now would we?

  • Gareth Morrell says:

    Prince Charles also sang in the Bach Choir for a season or two. The Duchess of Kent is also a long established member of the choir.

    • Clifford Lister says:

      As the Duchess is a person not an institution or a building perhaps “ long standing” describes her membership more accurately?

  • La plus belle voix says:

    It’s Master of the King’s Music not Musick these days. And she’s given over the years enough interviews explaining why she wants to keep the title that way.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    There’s something solid about ancient titles. What didn’t offend Judith Weir in 2014 is unlikely to get her goat now. Nice to hear a story about adults for a change.

  • Una says:

    Women give masterclasses!

    • Herbie G says:

      Yes, and certain female judges in the High Court are still designated as ‘Master x’.

      Whatever our new King’s virtues and vices, for me he has one saving grace – he’s an ardent devotee of the music of Sir Hubert Parry, as I am.