Title of the only surviving music post in the British royal household; carries honorarium and no fixed duties. The post originated in reign of Charles I (office being held by Nicholas Lanier) and meant the head of the sovereign's private band which accompanied him or her wherever he or she went. In 1660 Charles II est. a band of 24 players of str. instr. Since 1893 the post has been given to some eminent musician, usually a composer, who will write a fanfare, march, or larger work for some royal or state occasion, and is an influential figure in the mus. world generally (mus. equivalent of the Poet Laureate). Holders of the post since 1660 (some dates conjectural) are: Nicholas Lanier, 1660; Louis Grabu, 1666; Nicholas Staggins, 1674; John Eccles, 1700; Maurice Greene, 1735?; William Boyce, 1755; John Stanley, 1779; William Parsons, 1786; William Shield, 1817–29; Christian Kramer, 1834; George Frederick Anderson, 1848–70; William George Cusins, 1870–93; Walter Parratt, 1893–1924; Edward Elgar 1924–34; Walford Davies, 1934–41; Arnold Bax, 1942–53; Arthur Bliss, 1953–75; Malcolm Williamson 1975–2003; Peter Maxwell Davies from 2004.