Debbie Wiseman’s majestic new No.1 album, The Music of Kings & Queens – out now!

21 June 2021, 14:43

Music of Kings & Queens, featuring music by Debbie Wiseman, and narration by Helen Mirren and Damian Lewis
Music of Kings & Queens, featuring music by Debbie Wiseman, and narration by Helen Mirren and Damian Lewis. Picture: Decca / Classic FM / PA

Classic FM has partnered with Decca Records for a new album of music inspired by monarchs, by our Composer in Residence and star narrators Dame Helen Mirren and Damian Lewis OBE.

Classic FM has teamed up with iconic record label, Decca, to produce a new recording of music by Debbie Wiseman OBE, inspired by monarchs past and present.

Wiseman, Classic FM’s Composer in Residence and the most popular living British composer in the Classic FM Hall of Fame 2021, has written brand new music that tells the story of the making of the United Kingdom through 12 of our past monarchs – beginning with William the Conqueror and ending with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Also featuring spoken word from Dame Helen Mirren and Damian Lewis OBE, the recording will evoke the times of enduringly fascinating monarchs, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

The recording is being released in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 95th birthday this year, and debuted at No.1 in the Official Classical Charts when it was released.

Read more: Debbie Wiseman hosts Classic FM series, Music for Monarchy >

The words spoken on the album have been written by Simon Brooksward, an event producer and director who actually planned the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations this year.

Dame Helen Mirren says: “I enjoyed the opportunity to work with Debbie on a musical journey into royal history.

“I am honoured to be able to record the words with Damian and participate in celebrating Her Majesty’s 95th birthday. And Debbie did a great job of composing and recording music.”

Mirren has portrayed the current Queen Elizabeth both on stage and on screen, and she won an Oscar in 2006 for her performance in the film The Queen.

Wiseman wrote the score for Wolf Hall, the TV series adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s best-selling book, and met Damian Lewis then, when he was playing Henry VIII in the production.

The composer says: “Having composed music for Damian Lewis as Henry VIII, it was wonderful to have him accompany my music again, this time introducing 12 monarchs that have shaped our history.

“Both he and Helen were lovely and an absolute joy to work with. I played them my pieces to show them the musical thought behind each monarch, from William I to our present Queen, and they responded with the most wonderful, evocative and stunning narration.”

Read more: Queen Elizabeth II plays piano, sang madrigals at Windsor, and has two honorary music degrees >

Dame Helen Mirren and Damian Lewis OBE perform spoken word in Music of Kings & Queens
Dame Helen Mirren and Damian Lewis OBE perform spoken word in Music of Kings & Queens. Picture: PA

She adds, “I couldn't be more delighted with the result, and to have these two distinguished actors contribute to my album is the biggest thrill imaginable.”

Lewis says: “I was delighted to be asked to help Debbie and Helen narrate an image of the monarchs, the heroic, the noble and the fallible. To take a glimpse into the hearts and minds of those Kings and Queens, through Debbie's emotive music, was illuminating – and very enjoyable.”

The Music of Kings & Queens was released on Decca Records on 11 June 2021.

Music of Kings & Queens – full tracklisting

2. Introduction by Helen Mirren
3. William I introduction by Damian Lewis
4. WILLIAM I (music)
5. Richard I introduction by Helen Mirren
6. RICHARD I (music)
7. Henry VIII introduction by Damian Lewis
8. HENRY VIII (music)
9. Elizabeth I introduction by Helen Mirren
10. ELIZABETH I (music)
11. Charles II introduction by Damian Lewis
12. CHARLES II (music)
13. Anne introduction by Helen Mirren
14. ANNE (music)
15. George II introduction by Damian Lewis
16. GEORGE II (music) Inspired by Handel’s Zadok the Priest
17. George III introduction by Damian Lewis
18. GEORGE III (music)
19. Victoria introduction by Helen Mirren
20. VICTORIA (music)
21. Edward VII -introduction by Helen Mirren
22. EDWARD VII (music)
23. George VI introduction by Damian Lewis
24. GEORGE VI (music)
25. Elizabeth II introduction by Dame Helen Mirren and Damian Lewis
26. ELIZABETH II (music)

Click here to get your copy of Music of Kings & Queens.