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Composer: Vaughan Williams, Ralph (1872-1958)

Fact file
Year of birth1872
Year of death1958
NationalityUnited Kingdom
Period20th century
December 2018
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Evening performance
Matinee performance
Upcoming eventsSee more...

AmsterdamChoir of St John's College, Cambridge: Christmas Concert

© Nick Rutter
Chilcott, Mathias, Tavener, Vaughan Williams, Swayne, Traditional, Bach, Poulenc, Gruber, Willcocks
Andrew Nethsingha; Cambridge Choir of St John's College; Glen Dempsey; Laura van der Heijden

LondonSonoro

Sonoro
Traditional, Vaughan Williams, Rutter, Beamish, Skempton, Gruber
Neil Ferris; Sonoro; Michael Higgins

BirminghamChoir of King's College Cambridge - A Choral Christmas

Britten, Vaughan Williams
Choir of King's College Cambridge; Stephen Cleobury

LinköpingDickens' A Christmas Carol

© Björn Dahlgren Christian Zell, actor.
Vaughan Williams, Hely-Hutchinson
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra; Christina Hörnell; Bel Cantokören; Musikaliska Sällskapets Kammarkör

LondonChristmas Fantasia

Holst, Rowley, Elgar, Warlock, Fletcher, Rathbone, Traditional, Darke, Vaughan Williams, Adam
London Choral Sinfonia; Michael Waldron
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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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Vaughan Williams ‘Unwrapped’ at the Turner Sims

Lawrence Power © Jack Liebeck
An evening of unfailing interest that flagged up the wonders of both David Owen Norris and Lawrence Power in variable performances of classic scores by Vaughan Williams. 
****1
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Choral classics and a new commission from BBC Singers

Sakari Oramo © Benjamin Ealovega
English choral classics from 100 years ago, contrasted with a confident and effective new piece by Laura Mvula, all given strong performances by the BBC Singers and Sakari Oramo.
****1
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Late night candlelit concerts at the Edinburgh Fringe

St Patrick's © St Andrew Camerata
Edinburgh Fringe’s late-night candlelit atmosphere: a packed St Patrick’s for a lovely Fauré Requiem from St Andrew Camerata and beautiful and haunting The Last Exit for soprano and clarinet at Old St Paul’s.
****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