Susana Walton, the Argentine wife of the late composer Sir William Walton, has died aged 83.
Susana and William Walton met in Buenos Aires in 1948 and married in December the same year – she was 24 years his junior.
The couple moved to the tiny Italian island of Ischia the following year. It was at La Mortella (the Place of Myrtles), as their home was called, that the composer wrote his opera Troilus and Cressida as well as the Second Symphony, although work on the former was so slow that he scarcely wrote any more music.
It was their mutual love of gardening that bound them together, and together at La Mortella they built a huge, multi-level, extravagant garden of eccentric grottos, tropical plants and water features. When Sir William died in 1983, Susana Walton took the decision to set up the William Walton Trust and open the gardens to the public in 1992.
His ashes were scattered at the top of the garden at ‘William’s Rock’ that Susana would urge visitors not to miss on their tour. Those that visited La Mortella will no doubt recall bumping into her at various stages of their visit, experiencing her generous nature and listening to her fond memories of her husband.
Despite having to sell William Walton’s manuscripts to Yale, Susana Walton nevertheless dedicated her life to her husband’s music, building a concert hall into the garden’s cliff face for the purpose of holding frequent concerts to showcase his music.
La Mortella also had a small museum, and an outdoor ‘Greek Theatre’ had recently been completed for symphonic open-air concerts.
Her ashes will be buried in the ‘Nymphaeum’ on the mountainside at La Mortella, near those of her husband.