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Composer: Vaughan Williams, Ralph (1872-1958)

Fact file
Year of birth1872
Year of death1958
NationalityUnited Kingdom
Period20th century
February 2019
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Evening performance
Matinee performance
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LondonEnglish Choral Classics by Candlelight

English Choral Classics by Candlelight
Elgar, Howells, Vaughan Williams, Holst
Andrew Earis; St Martin's Chorus; Peter Edge

Saffron WaldenBBC Concert Orchestra

BBC Concert Orchestra
Sibelius, Glazunov, Monti, Grieg, Jenkins, Vaughan Williams, Milhaud, Bizet
BBC Concert Orchestra; Rumon Gamba; Jess Gillam; Thomas Gould

Santiago de CompostelaGrandes Sinfonías

Grandes Sinfonías
Vaughan Williams, Sibelius
Real Filharmonía de Galicia; Jonathan Webb

CrawleyMusical Landscapes

Musical Landscapes
Sibelius, Mozart, Vaughan Williams, Elgar
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Anu Tali; Jennifer Pike

SheffieldRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra perform Elgar's famous Enigma Variatioins

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform Elgar's famous Enigma Variatioins
Sibelius, Mozart, Vaughan Williams, Elgar
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Anu Tali; Jennifer Pike
Latest reviewsSee more...

Bleak polar landscapes evoked by The Hallé in Sinfonia Antartica

Sir Mark Elder © Benjamin Ealovega
Sir Mark Elder conducts The Hallé in Berlioz, Saint-Saëns with Stephen Hough and Vaughan Williams
****1
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To sleep perchance to dream? Sir Andrew Davis leads the BSO

John Harbison following the performance of his Second Symphony © Hilary Scott
John Harbison's Second Symphony takes the listener from Dawn to Darkness, while Vaughan Williams' Fifth offers “the similitude of a dream” in Boston. 
****1
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A smorgasbord of seasonal English music in Washington DC

The early music ensemble peppered its diverse program with the rollicking play A Christmas Messe. While not all arrangements worked well, expertise and emotion made for a pleasurably unique performance.
***11
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Fury, passion and loss from Martyn Brabbins and the BBCSO

Martyn Brabbins © Benjamin Ealovega
Fury, passion and loss from Martyn Brabbins and the BBCSO in an all-British programme. 
****1
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Mournful and humane Brahms at the Royal Festival Hall

Marin Alsop © Adriane White
Marin Alsop and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment lead a searing account of Brahms' German Requiem and Vaughan Williams. 
****1
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Biography

Vaughan Williams is arguably the greatest composer Britain has seen since the days of Henry Purcell. In a long and extensive career, he composed music notable for its power, nobility and expressiveness, representing, perhaps, the essence of 'Englishness'.

Vaughan Williams was born in 1872 in the Cotswold village of Down Ampney. He was educated at Charterhouse School, then Trinity College, Cambridge. Later he was a pupil of Stanford and Parry at the Royal College of Music after which he studied with Max Bruch in Berlin and Maurice Ravel in Paris.

At the turn of the century he was among the very first to travel into the countryside to collect folk-songs and carols from singers, notating them for future generations to enjoy. As musical editor of The English Hymnal he composed several hymns that are now world-wide favourites (For all the Saints, Come down O love Divine). Later he also helped to edit The Oxford Book of Carols, with similar success.

Vaughan Williams volunteered to serve in the Field Ambulance Service in Flanders for the 1914–1918 war, during which he was deeply affected by the carnage and the loss of close friends such as the composer George Butterworth.

Before the war he had met and then sustained a long and deep friendship with the composer Gustav Holst. For many years Vaughan Williams conducted and led the Leith Hill Music Festival, conducting Bach’s St Matthew Passion on a regular basis. He also became professor of composition at the Royal College of Music in London.

In his lifetime, Vaughan Williams eschewed all honours with the exception of the Order of Merit which was conferred upon him in 1938. He died in August 1958, his ashes are interred in Westminster Abbey, near Purcell.

In a long and productive life, music flowed from his creative pen in profusion. Hardly a musical genre was untouched or failed to be enriched by his work, which included nine symphonies, five operas, film music, ballet and stage music, several song cycles, church music and works for chorus and orchestra.

© Stephen Connock MBE
Vice President Ralph Vaughan Williams Society