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Composer: Vaughan Williams, Ralph (1872-1958)

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

LondonBreath of Hope

Breath of Hope
Holst, Finzi, Ravel, Vaughan Williams, Boulanger, Schulhoff, Poulenc
Unknown; New London Chamber Ensemble; Robert Manasse

LondonGathering Storm Clouds

Gathering Storm Clouds
Gurney, Ireland, Vaughan Williams, Delius, Bridge
Mark Bebbington; Rebeca Omordia; Irene Loh

LondonLunchtime Recital: Abner Jairo Ortiz Garcia

Lunchtime Recital: Abner Jairo Ortiz Garcia
Eccles, Haydn, Schubert, Vaughan Williams, Popper
Unknown; Mihai Ritivoiu

SheffieldJennifer Pike

Mozart, Szymanowski, Wieniawski, Vaughan Williams
Jennifer Pike; Jeremy Pike

LondonNapa High School Alumni Choir

Mathias, Stanford, Hogan, Vaughan Williams, Paulus, Handel
Travis Rogers; Kensington Singers; Victoria Park Singers; Hannah Brine
Latest reviewsSee more...

Hough in exemplary Beethoven before Manze’s Antarctic tour

Andrew Manze © Benjamin Ealovega
Andrew Manze conducted the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in two English choral pieces; Stephen Hough brought a fitting conclusion to his Beethoven concerto cycle as artist-in-residence. 
*****
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Tale of two concertos: Bergen Philharmonic play Gubaidulina and Grieg

Gidon Kremer © Roy Bjørge
Bergen Philharmonic’s programme of Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Gubaidulina’s violin concerto Offertorium offered fascinating insight into the relationship between orchestra and soloist.
***11
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A hansel at Snape Maltings

Mark Padmore © Marco Borggreve
Julius Drake, Krzysztof Chorzelski and Mark Padmore contributed their notable gifts of piano, viola and voice respectively in a very special, often heartfelt fundraising evening for two music education charities. 
****1
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Nostalgia, despair and triumph

Cristian Măcelaru © Sorin Popa
Hallé guest conductor Cristian Măcelaru provided excellent direction in a selection of classic repertoire.
****1
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Manze and Fox’s brilliant Britten

Andrew Manze © Benjamin Ealovega
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra also have a winner in a radiant Vaughan Williams Symphony no. 5.
*****
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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