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Sullivan returned from the riviera in April 1893 and hastily composed the Imperial March for the opening of the Imperial Institute in South Kensington. He recorded in his diary for May 10th:

Opening of Imperial Institute by the Queen. Duchess of Marlborough called for me and Bertie at 10.15, then to pick up Mrs. Ronalds — arr. at Institute 10.45. Very fine sight. I directed (in leveé dress) orchestra of 98.

The Arrival of the Queen
The Nation's Tribute to Queen Victoria

The march was played at a Philharmonic Society concert and noticed in The Times:

The 81st season of this society closed last night with a brilliantly successful concert… A march in the same key [E flat], written by Sir Arthur Sullivan for the opening of the Imperial Institute, was played at the close of the concert; it is a pièce d’occasion of a decidedly stirring kind, and, but for some haunting reminiscences of the Siegfried Idyll and several other works by Wagner, might be pronounced very original. There is indeed a certain originality in the presence of such suggestions in the work of a composer who has never been a whole-hearted adherent of the Bayreuth master. (The Times, 16th June 1893.)


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