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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
Vaughan Williams: Piano Quintet, Quintet in D... / London Soloists
Release Date: 05/27/2014   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 573191   Number of Discs: 1
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Vaughan Williams: Christmas Carols / Owain Arwel Hughes, Cardiff Festival Choir
Release Date: 11/09/2010   Label: Griffin  
Catalog: 4072   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: Fantasia On Greensleeves, Etc / Judd, Etc
Release Date: 07/15/2003   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8555867   Number of Discs: 1
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Vaughan Williams: Hodie; Fantasia On Christmas Carols
Release Date: 11/20/2007   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8570439   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: The lark ascending

Browse 1-25 of 95 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Stars Of The Night: Songs And Violin Works By Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Label: Albion   Catalog: 18 Release Date: 12/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Roland Wood,  Iain Burnside,  Matthew Trusler
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  • 2.
    Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending, Violin Concerto; Elgar / Waley-Cohen
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 399 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Sir Edward Elgar
    Performer:  Tamsin Waley-Cohen
    Conductor:  David Curtis
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  • 3.
    Vaughan Williams: Dona Nobis Pacem, Symphony No 4, Lark Ascending / Spano
    Label: Aso Media (Label)   Catalog: 1005 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Jessica Rivera,  Brett Polegato,  David Coucheron
    Conductor:  Robert Spano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,  Atlanta Symphony Chorus
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  • 4.
    The Argo Years / Neville Marriner, Academy Of St Martin In The Fields [28-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002081902 Release Date: 06/03/2014   Number of Discs: 28
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Arcangelo Corelli,  Giuseppe Torelli,  Pietro Antonio Locatelli  ... 
    Performer:  Gwynne Howell,  Philip Langridge,  Anna Reynolds,  Elly Ameling  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus,  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
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  • 5.
    Animals In Music
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 578281 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  George Frideric Handel,  Edvard Grieg,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  John Artore,  Balazs Szkolay,  Giorgio Koukl,  Takako Nishizaki  ... 
    Conductor:  Kees Bakels,  Peter Breiner,  Stephen Gunzenhauser,  David Lloyd-Jones  ... 
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  • 6.
    Vaughan Williams: Complete Symphonies / Haitink, London Philharmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 8475926 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Jonathan Summers,  Felicity Lott,  Amanda Roocroft,  Sarah Chang  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantilena,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir
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  • 7.
    Teldec - 50-CD Collection
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 643851 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Antonín Dvorák,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  András Schiff,  Josef Protschka,  Barbara Bonney,  Edita Gruberova  ... 
    Conductor:  Iván Fischer,  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Carlo Rizzi,  Reinbert De Leeuw  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra,  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
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  • 8.
    The Lark Ascending
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10796 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernest John Moeran,  Frederick Delius,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Tasmin Little
    Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 9.
    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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  • 10.
    The Violin / Nicola Benedetti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001912002 Release Date: 09/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Johannes Brahms,  Arvo Pärt  ... 
    Performer:  Nicola Benedetti,  Thomas Carroll,  Tamás András,  Ksenija Sidorova  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrew Litton,  Jakub Hrusa,  Daniel Harding,  Kirill Karabits
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Chamber Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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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.
    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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  • 13.
    Label: Mood Media Entertainment   Catalog: 56931 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Claude Debussy,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Klára Körmendi,  Péter Nagy,  Judy Loman,  Nora Shulman  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Edlinger,  Christian Pollack,  Marin Alsop,  Jerzy Maksymiuk  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana,  Aradia Ensemble,  Concentus Hungaricus
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  • 14.
    Arcadia Lost
    Label: Melba   Catalog: 301131 Release Date: 08/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Michael Dauth,  Steve Davislim
    Conductor:  Mark Wigglesworth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sydney Symphony Orchestra,  Cantillation,  Hamer String Quartet
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  • 15.
    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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  • 16.
    50 Best British Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27359 Release Date: 05/22/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Thomas Tallis,  John Goss,  Charles Villiers Stanford  ... 
    Performer:  Stephen Cleobury,  Thomas Williamson,  Sir David Willcocks,  Peter Stevens  ... 
    Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury,  Philip Ledger,  Sir David Willcocks,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music,  Wallace Collection (Brass Ensemble)
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  • 17.
    English Classics
    Label: Hallé   Catalog: 7532 Release Date: 11/08/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  George Butterworth,  Frederick Delius,  Traditional,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Joseph Taylor,  Lyn Fletcher,  James Gilchrist
    Conductor:  Mark Elder,  John Wilson
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  • 18.
    Made In Britain / James Clark, John Wilson, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
    Label: Avie   Catalog: 2194 Release Date: 11/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  George Butterworth,  Frederick Delius,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Performer:  James Clark
    Conductor:  John Wilson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Icon: Vernon Handley - Champion Of British Music
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 98202 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Sir William Walton  ... 
    Performer:  Nigel Kennedy,  Tasmin Little
    Conductor:  Vernon Handley
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $34.99
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  • 20.
    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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  • 21.
    Poeme - Chausson, Respighi, Suk, Vaughan Williams / Julia Fischer
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001553502 Release Date: 05/03/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ottorino Respighi,  Josef Suk,  Ernest Chausson,  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Julia Fischer
    Conductor:  Yakov Kreizberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 22.
    Best Of Nigel Kennedy
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 31514 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Nigel Kennedy
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  • 23.
    Best Of British - The Nation's Favourite Classical Music
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 31600 Release Date: 09/28/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Gustav Holst,  Sir Edward Elgar,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  David Nolan,  Robert Cohen,  Paul Beniston,  Mair Jones  ... 
    Conductor:  Vernon Handley,  Simon Rattle,  Norman Del Mar,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi of England
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  • 24.
    Vaughan Williams: Tallis Fantasia; Greensleeves; The Lark Ascending
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27910 Release Date: 08/10/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Sarah Chang,  Christopher Balmer,  Ian Partridge,  David Willison  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli,  Vernon Handley,  Bernard Haitink,  Sir David Willcocks  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Early Music Group
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  • 25.
    Classical Meditation
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8570364-65 Release Date: 05/25/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Alla Pavlova,  Peter Sculthorpe,  Einojuhani Rautavaara,  Sir Arthur Bliss  ... 
    Performer:  William Barton,  Michael Cox,  Nicholas Daniel,  David Greed  ... 
    Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev,  James Judd,  Hannu Lintu,  David Lloyd-Jones  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra,  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Scottish National Orchestra  ... 
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