The current Master of the Queen’s Music is Judith Weir (pictured above), who was appointed in 2014.
Much like the Poet Laureate, the exact nature of the position isn’t stipulated, but it’s expected that Masters, who are always composers, will respond to royal and other ceremonial occasions, writing musical settings to celebrate and/or accompany birthdays, marriages, deaths and, of course, coronations.
The first holder of the post, musician and painter Nicholas Lanier, was appointed by Charles I in 1626 – his chief responsibility was to look after the monarch’s private band. Since then, 20 people have held the post, including Weir, among them William Boyce, Edward Elgar, Arthur Bliss and Peter Maxwell Davies.
Since 2004, the role’s duration has been changed from ‘life’ to 10 years in order to give more composers the opportunity to take up the post. And unlike the Poet Laureate, who receives a fee and 600 bottles of sherry, the Master of the Queen’s Music has to make do with a mere stipend…