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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
Flowers Of The Field /  Williams, Irons, Wetton, London  Mozart Players
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8573426   Number of Discs: 1
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Vaughan Williams: Choral Works / Best, Corydon Singers
Release Date: 06/10/2008   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 44321   Number of Discs: 4
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Vaughan Williams: Five Tudor Portraits, Five Mystical Songs
Release Date: 06/08/1999   Label: Helios  
Catalog: 55004   Number of Discs: 1
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Vaughan Williams: Riders To The Sea / Walker, Thomson
Release Date: 08/26/2008   Label: Kultur Video  
Catalog: 4390   Number of Discs: 1
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Vaughan Williams: Toward The Unknown Region, Etc / Best
Release Date: 02/01/1994   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 66655   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Fantasia on Greensleeves

Browse 1-25 of 149 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  ... 
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  • 4.
    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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  • 5.
    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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  • 6.
    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
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  • 7.
    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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  • 8.
    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
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  • 9.
    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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  • 10.
    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
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  • 11.
    Vaughan Williams: Complete EMI Recordings / Boult
    Label: Warner 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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  • 12.
    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  ... 
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  • 13.
    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  ... 
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  • 14.
    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
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  • 15.
    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:  Susan Graham,  Emmanuelle Haïm,  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
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  • 16.
    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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  • 17.
    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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  • 18.
    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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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    English Music For Strings / Sir John Barbirolli
    Label: Warner 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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  • 21.
    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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  • 22.
    Nettle & Markham In England
    Label: Netmark   Catalog: 200 Release Date: 09/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Addinsell,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Jeremy Nicholas,  Noel Gay  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Markham,  David Nettle
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  • 23.
    Essential Strings
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 94919 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Arcangelo Corelli,  Luigi Boccherini,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Georges Armand,  Jean-Patrice Brosse,  Maxim Vengerov,  Vag Papian
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Georges Armand,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Jerzy Maksymiuk  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi,  Berlin Philharmonic Cellists
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  • 24.
    Vaughan Williams: Fantasia On Greensleeves; Oboe Concerto; The Lark Ascending; Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis
    Label: Collins Classics   Catalog: 4 Release Date: 06/14/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Julia Girdwood
    Conductor:  Robert Haydon Clark
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Consort of London
    CD: $14.99
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  • 25.
    Early One Morning - Folksongs & Spirituals / Higginbottom, Choir Of New College
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 4675459 Release Date: 05/31/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Percy Aldridge Grainger,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Nicholas Fuggle,  Eamonn Dougan,  Philip Cave,  Roderick Morris  ... 
    Conductor:  Edward Higginbottom
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oxford New College Choir
    CD: $8.99
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