Ralph Vaughan Williams

Biography

Born: Oct 12, 1872; England   Died: Aug 26, 1958; England   Period: 20th Century
Ralph Vaughan Williams left a varied oeuvre that includes orchestral works, songs, operas, and various choral compositions. While primarily drawing on the rich tradition of English folksong and hymnody, Vaughan Williams produced well-loved works that fit into larger European traditions and gained worldwide popularity.

Vaughan Williams, who lost his father early in life, was cared for by his mother. Related, through his mother, to both Read more Charles Darwin and the Wedgwoods of pottery fame, he grew up without financial worries. He studied history and music at Trinity College, Cambridge, and finished up at the Royal College of Music, where he worked with Parry, Wood, and Stanford. In 1897, the year he married Adeline Fisher, Vaughan Williams traveled to Berlin to study with Max Bruch, also seeking Maurice Ravel as a teacher several years later, despite the fact that the French composer was three years his junior. In 1903, he started collecting English folksongs; certain characteristics of English folk music, particularly its modal tonalities, in many ways informed his approach to composition. Vaughan Williams further developed his style while working as editor of the English Hymnal, which was completed in 1906. His work on the English Hymnal went beyond editing, for he contributed several new hymn tunes, most notably the Sine nomine, the tune for the hymn For All the Saints. The composer's interest in and knowledge of traditional English music is reflected in his song cycle On Wenlock Edge (1909), based on selections from A.E. Housman's immensely popular volume of poetry A Shropshire Lad. In his Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, composed in 1910, Vaughan Williams introduced antiphonal effects within the context of modal tonality, juxtaposing consonant, but unrelated, triads. Composed in 1914, his Symphony No. 2, "A London Symphony" brings to life, with great charm, the sounds of London from dawn to dusk. That year, Vaughan Williams also wrote his pastoral The Lark Ascending, for violin and orchestra. When World War I broke out, the 41-year-old composer enlisted as an orderly in the medical corps, becoming famous for organizing choral singing and other entertainment in the trenches. He was commissioned from the ranks, ending his war service as an artillery officer. The war interrupted the composer's work but did not, it seems, disrupt the inner continuity of his creative development. The Symphony No. 3 ("Pastoral"), composed in 1922, conjures up a familiar world, effectively incorporating folksong motives into sonorities created by sequential chords. While critics detected pessimistic moods and themes in the later symphonies, ascribing a shift to a darker vision to the composer's alleged general pessimism about the world, Vaughan Williams refused to attach any programmatic content to these works. However, the composer created a convincing musical description of a desolate world in his Symphony No. 7 "Sinfonia Antarctica" (1952), which was inspired by the request to write the music for the film Scott of the Antarctic. In addition to his symphonies, Vaughan Williams composed highly acclaimed religious music, as well as works inspired by English spiritual literature, culminating in his 1951 opera The Pilgrim's Progress, based on the spiritual classic by John Bunyan. An artist of extraordinary creative energy, Vaughan Williams continued composing with undiminished powers until his death at 87. Read less

Vaughan Williams: London Symphony;  Butterworth / Hickox
Release Date: 05/22/2001   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 9902   Number of Discs: 1
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Vaughan Williams: The First Nowell, Etc / Hickox, Et Al
Release Date: 10/03/2006   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10385   Number of Discs: 1
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Vaughan Williams: Complete Concertos / Thompson, London So
Release Date: 02/01/1994   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 9262   Number of Discs: 2
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Vaughan Williams: The Poisoned Kiss, Sea Songs, Etc
Release Date: 05/18/1999   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 2409   Number of Discs: 2
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Holst, Vaughan Williams - British Wind Band Classics / Reynish, Royal Northern College Of Music
Release Date: 02/09/1999   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 9697   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Fantasia on Greensleeves

Browse 1-25 of 165 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The Great Recordings / Malcolm Sargent [18-CD Set]
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 634121 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Sir William Walton,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Gustav Holst  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Lewis,  John [baritone (50s)] Cameron,  James Milligan,  Duncan Robertson  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Huddersfield Choral Society,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $64.49
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  • 2.
    Leonard Slatkin Conducts Vaughan Williams
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 7902492 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Hugh Bean,  David Jones,  David Mason,  Thomas Allen  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus
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  • 3.
    The Westminster Legacy
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001999302 Release Date: 02/18/2014   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Gustav Mahler  ... 
    Performer:  Sena Jurinac,  Lucretia West,  Hans Loeffler,  Frederick Guthrie  ... 
    Conductor:  Hermann Scherchen,  Pierre Monteux,  René Leibowitz,  Erich Leinsdorf  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Academy Chamber Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
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  • 4.
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 1104380 Release Date: 12/03/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  John Newton,  César Franck,  Ludovico Einaudi,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Il Divo,  The Priests,  Einaudi,  Jonathan & Charlotte  ... 
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  • 5.
    The Expressive Voice Of The Flute
    Label: Divine Art   Catalog: 21222 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Howard Blake,  William Lloyd Webber  ... 
    Performer:  Kenneth Smith,  Paul Rhodes
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  • 6.
    Elgar: Enigma Variations; Vaughan Williams: The Wasps; Greensleeves
    Label: Reference Recordings   Catalog: 1292 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Sir Edward Elgar
    Conductor:  Michael Stern
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  • 7.
    Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending; Fantasia On A Theme Of Thomas Tallis; Symphony No. 5
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001912602 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Trevor Connah,  Iona Brown,  Kenneth Heath,  Stephen Shingles
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Roger Norrington
    CD: $8.99
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  • 8.
    Tea For Two
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300426 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frederick Delius,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Anton Heberle,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Maurice Steger,  Davide Cabassi
    Conductor:  Howard Griffiths
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  • 9.
    Best Of Pops / Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops Orchestra
    Label: Dynamic   Catalog: 3580 Release Date: 07/02/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Jacob Gade,  Leroy Anderson,  Victor Young,  Meredith Willson  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops
    On sale! $29.95
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  • 10.
    My First Orchestra Album
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578253 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Larionoff
    Conductor:  Marin Alsop,  Gerard Schwarz,  Nicholas Ward,  Anthony Bramall  ... 
    CD: $9.99
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  • 11.
    Lazy Day Classics
    Label: Gift Of Music   Catalog: 1271 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Edvard Grieg,  Franz Schubert,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Christine Pendrill,  James Campbell,  Stephanie Chase
    Conductor:  Geoffrey Simon,  Roy Goodman
    CD: $17.99
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  • 12.
    Vaughan Williams: Complete EMI Recordings / Boult
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 35672 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Sheila Armstrong,  John Carol Case,  Norma Burrowes,  Hugh Bean  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 13.
    50 Best London Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 333092 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Michel Béroff,  Jeanne Loriod,  Simon Preston,  Gervase de Peyer  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Lamberto Gardelli,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 14.
    EMI Eminence - The Original Jacket Collection [50-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 393872 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  William Byrd  ... 
    Performer:  David Nolan,  Jonathan Small,  George Malcolm,  William Bennett  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Anton Rickenbacher,  Vernon Handley,  George Guest,  George Malcolm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cambridge St. John's College Choir  ... 
    On sale! $201.98
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  • 15.
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 5412002 Release Date: 02/25/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Eric Coates,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Kathryn Stott,  Michael Boriskin,  Todd Levy  ... 
    Conductor:  Vernon Handley,  Eugene Ormandy,  Leonard Slatkin,  John Pritchard  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players
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  • 16.
    Elgar: Enigma Variations; The Wasps; Vaughan Williams: Greensleeves / Stern, Kansas City Symphony
    Label: Reference Recordings   Catalog: 129 Release Date: 01/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Conductor:  Michael Stern
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kansas City Symphony Orchestra
    Recommendation
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  • 17.
    Essential British Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40306 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Henry Purcell,  Jeremiah Clarke,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Emmanuelle Haïm,  Susan Graham,  Maurice André,  Jane Parker-Smith  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Alexander Briger,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Emmanuelle Haïm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert D'Astrée,  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
    CD: $12.99
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  • 18.
    The Spirit Of Christmas Present
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7034 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ned Rorem,  John Francis Wade,  Traditional,  Henry John Gauntlett  ... 
    Performer:  Kevin Bowyer,  Huw Tregelles Williams
    Conductor:  William Boughton,  Charles Bruffy,  John Hugh Thomas,  Michel Swierczewski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English String Orchestra,  Kansas City Chorale,  Fanfare Trumpeters of the Welsh Guard  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 19.
    Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant
    Label: Lpo   Catalog: 63 Release Date: 06/05/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir William Walton,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Eric Coates,  Fritz Spiegl  ... 
    Conductor:  David Parry
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 20.
    100 Best British Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27315 Release Date: 05/22/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Thomas Tallis,  John Goss,  Charles Villiers Stanford  ... 
    Performer:  Jacqueline Du Pré,  Hugh Bean,  Gerald Moore,  Dame Janet Baker  ... 
    Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury,  Sir Philip Ledger,  Sir David Willcocks,  Sir Adrian Boult  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music,  Cambridge King's College Choir,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 21.
    Jack Mitchener Plays Christmas Organ Music
    Label: Raven Recordings   Catalog: 936 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louis-Claude Daquin,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Marcel Dupré,  Felix Alexandre Guilmant  ... 
    Performer:  Jack Mitchener
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  • 22.
    The Lark Ascending
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 80526 Release Date: 04/03/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Sir Edward Elgar,  George Butterworth,  Frederick Delius  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Neville Dilkes,  Sir Neville Marriner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Allegri String Quartet
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  • 23.
    English Music For Strings / Sir John Barbirolli
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 85187 Release Date: 01/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Frederick Delius
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of London Sinfonia,  Allegri String Quartet,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 24.
    Owain Arwel Hughes Conducts Much Loved Music / Halle Orchestra
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 62008 Release Date: 01/04/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Malcolm Arnold,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Giuseppe Verdi,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Jean Bell,  Roger Rostron,  Pamela Coburn,  John Dickinson  ... 
    Conductor:  Owain Arwel Hughes
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra,  Hallé Orchestra Chorus
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  • 25.
    Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Holst / Cooke, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks   Catalog: 28740 Release Date: 09/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Frederick Delius,  Anonymous  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Cooke
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