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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 a theme by Thomas Tallis

Browse 1-25 of 106 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    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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    CD: $163.49
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  • 2.
    Karajan: Orchestra Spectaculars From Handel To Bartok
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 633621 Release Date: 05/27/2014   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Jean Sibelius,  Benjamin Britten,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $78.99
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  • 3.
    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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  • 4.
    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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  • 5.
    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
    CD: $134.99
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  • 6.
    Great European Organs, No. 89 / Marco Lo Muscio
    Label: Priory Records   Catalog: 1096 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Paolo Lazzeri,  Greg Lake,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Marco Lo Muscio
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 7.
    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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    CD: $26.99
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  • 8.
    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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  • 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.
    Europakonzert 2013 / Kozena, Rattle, Berlin Philarmonic
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2059428 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Antonín Dvorák,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Magdalena Kozená
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $24.99
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  • 11.
    Europakonzert 2013 / Kozena, Rattle, Berlin Philarmonic [Blu-ray]
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2059424 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Antonín Dvorák,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Magdalena Kozená
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $39.99
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  • 12.
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 22398 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Bruno Walter
    On sale! $15.98
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  • 13.
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 22257 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Bruno Walter
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  • 14.
    English String Masterpieces
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1138 Release Date: 07/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Michael Tippett,  Benjamin Britten,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Conductor:  Charles Groves
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 15.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $59.98
    CD: $52.99
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  • 16.
    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
    CD: $154.99
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  • 17.
    Icon - Constantin Silvestri [15-CD Set]
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 233472 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  George Enescu,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Conductor:  Constantin Silvestri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris  ... 
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    CD: $35.49
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  • 18.
    Music for Strings - Vaughan Williams, Purcell, Britten...
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 660705 Release Date: 06/26/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henry Purcell,  Benjamin Britten,  Arvo Pärt,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Nicolas Bône,  Nicholas Bone,  William Conway,  Marieke Blankestijn  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Egarr,  William Conway,  Douglas Boyd
    Recommendation
    CD: $8.99
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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    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)
    CD: $11.99
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  • 21.
    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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  • 22.
    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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  • 23.
    Icon: William Steinberg
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 26486 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Nathan Milstein,  Rudolf Firkusny
    Conductor:  William Steinberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $63.99
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  • 24.
    Bbc Legends: Stokowski
    Label: Bbc Legends   Catalog: 50072 Release Date: 09/27/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Otto Klemperer  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Janet Baker,  Rae Woodland
    Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Goldsmiths' Choral Union,  BBC Choral Society  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 25.
    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
    CD: $12.99
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