Queen Elizabeth has been a music fan since she was a child. Perhaps this passion arose when, in 1930, Elgar dedicated one of his final compositions to Princess Elizabeth, her newborn sister Margaret, and their mother, then Duchess of York.
In 1946 she was presented with an Honorary Bachelor of Music degree from the University of London. Since then she has attended numerous musical performances and concerts. She even joined her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at a concert of British music in 1951, to mark the opening of the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.
In June 2002, to celebrate her Golden Jubilee, the Queen was joined by artists on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the first public concert ever staged there. In 2005, the Queen’s Medal for Music was inaugurated.
The nominating process for the recipient of the medal is overseen by a committee under the chairmanship of the Master of The Queen’s Music. In return, she presented the inaugural Queen’s Medal For Music to conductor Sir Charles Mackerras and later to Welsh operatic bass-baritone Bryn Terfel during a special concert to celebrate the Queen’s 80th Birthday earlier in 2006.
‘Music has always been part of her life’
However, as it appears, the Queen is passionate about blues and jazz, and as it appears, American jazz legend Duke Ellington was found on her playlist. On Radio Two’s Blues Show on Monday evening, British jazz artist Gary Crosby, a double-bass player who was awarded an OBE for services to music in 2009, said the Queen left him “so happy” after speaking to him in detail about his area of expertise.
Speaking on BBC Radio Two’s The Blues Show, he told host Cerys Matthews that his awards had given him the “power to change things”, with the “ability to speak to people” and “get things done”.
Crosby also expressed his delight at earning the Queen’s Medal for Music in 2019 from the show’s host, Cerys Matthews. The Queen presented the accolade to the double bassist at Buckingham Palace, making him the first jazz player to win it. The anecdote offers new insight into the Queen’s tastes, as well as her attention to detail when meeting award recipients for palace audiences.
She is previously thought to have a strong preference for the musicals and popular music of her youth, with Dame Vera Lynn and George Formby featuring in her top ten songs as well as church hymns.
The young Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip are known to have danced to one of Ellington’s songs; Take the a Train, during their nights out in Malta as newlyweds. Prince Philip is said to have regularly requested it from the resident band at their favourite Phoenicia Hotel, along with People Will Say We’re in Love.