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: Dona Nobis Pacem, Symphony No 4, Lark Ascending / Spano
Release Date: 09/09/2014   Label: Aso Media (Label)  
Catalog: 1005   Number of Discs: 2
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Vaughan Williams: The Wasps, Etc;  Delius / Boughton, Et Al
Release Date: 12/02/1992   Label: Nimbus  
Catalog: 5208   Number of Discs: 1
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Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending, Violin Concerto; Elgar / Waley-Cohen
Release Date: 10/14/2014   Label: Signum U.k.  
Catalog: 399   Number of Discs: 1
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Vaughan Williams: The String Quartets, Etc / Medici Quartet
Release Date: 12/02/1992   Label: Nimbus  
Catalog: 5191   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: The lark ascending

Browse 101-106 of 106 Available Recordings
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  • 101.
    Vaughan Williams: The Wasps, Etc;  Delius / Boughton, Et Al
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 5208 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frederick Delius,  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Michael Bochmann
    Conductor:  William Boughton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Symphony Orchestra
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  • 102.
    Adagio 2 - A Collection Of Orchestral Classics
    Label: Celestial Harmonies   Catalog: 14052 Release Date: 11/03/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Unico Graf Van Wassenaer,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Max Bruch,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Performer:  Iona Brown,  Lynn Harrell,  Maria Kliegel,  Jorge Bolet  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Michael Halász,  Riccardo Chailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 103.
    Vaughan Williams: Symphony No 5, Etc / Thomson, London So
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8554 Release Date: 10/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Michael Davis
    Conductor:  Bryden Thomson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 104.
    Vaughan Williams: Norfolk Rhapsody, Etc / Boult, London So
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64022 Release Date: 10/11/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Hugh Bean
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Vocal Ensemble,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 105.
    Vaughan Williams: Fantasia On A Theme By Tallis / Marriner
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 414595 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Iona Brown,  Skaila Kanga,  Kenneth Heath,  Trevor Connah  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 106.
    Panorama - The Sound Of England
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 469274 Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gustav Holst,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Frederick Delius,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Performer:  Pinchas Zukerman
    Conductor:  William Steinberg,  Daniel Barenboim,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Norman Del Mar  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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