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: Film Music Classics / Penny, RTE Concert Orchestra
Release Date: 08/12/2016   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8573658   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis

Browse 1-25 of 92 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Reflections / Trondheim Solistene
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 2L-125-SABD Release Date: 07/29/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Igor Stravinsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trondheim Soloists
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  • 2.
    David Bernard Conducts Bartok, Copland, Stravinsky & Vaughan Williams
    Label: Recursive Classics   Catalog: 2057008 Release Date: 06/10/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Aaron Copland,  Igor Stravinsky
    Conductor:  David Bernard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Park Avenue Chamber Symphony
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 3.
    Europakonzert: 25 DVD Anniversary Box (1991-2015) / Berliner Philharmoniker
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 26098 Release Date: 04/29/2016  
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Leonidas Kavakos,  Mikhail Pletnev,  Violeta Urmana,  Elke Wilm Schulte  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle,  Pierre Boulez,  Gustavo Dudamel,  Claudio Abbado  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Swedish Radio Choir,  Eric Ericson Chamber Choir
    On sale! $118.99
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  • 4.
    Vaughan Williams: Orchestral Works / Barbirolli
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: 160 Release Date: 04/29/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Sinfonia of London
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  • 5.
    Pinchas Zukerman: Elgar & Vaughan Williams
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002458202 Release Date: 02/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Sir Edward Elgar
    Performer:  Pinchas Zukerman
    Conductor:  Pinchas Zukerman
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  • 6.
    Vaughan Williams: Pastoral Symphony; Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis; Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus; The Wasps Overture
    Label: Hallé   Catalog: 7540 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Sarah [Soprano Vocal] Fox
    Conductor:  Mark Elder
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
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  • 7.
    English Music For Strings
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1291 Release Date: 05/26/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Benjamin Britten,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Michael Tippett
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Groves
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 8.
    Decca Sound  – Mono Years 1944 -1956
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002280602 Release Date: 04/07/2015   Number of Discs: 53
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Wilhelm Backhaus,  Clifford Curzon,  Alfredo Campoli,  Henry Datyner  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Roger Desormičre,  Karl Münchinger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Paris Conservatoire Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris  ... 
    CD: $213.99
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  • 9.
    Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1; Vaughan Williams: Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 2415 Release Date: 01/06/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Fikret Amirov,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Robert Kurka
    Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
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  • 10.
    The Argo Years / Marriner, Academy of St Martin in the Fields
    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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  • 11.
    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
    On sale! $99.95
    CD: $78.99
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  • 12.
    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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  • 13.
    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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  • 14.
    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! $119.98
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  • 15.
    Label: Priory Records   Catalog: 1096 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Langlais,  Marco Lo Muscio,  Samuel Barber,  Paolo Lazzeri  ... 
    Performer:  Marco Lo Muscio
    On sale! $21.98
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  • 16.
    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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  • 17.
    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
    CD: $230.49
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  • 18.
    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:  Kenneth Heath,  Stephen Shingles,  Trevor Connah,  Iona Brown
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Roger Norrington
    CD: $7.99
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  • 19.
    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
    DVD: $24.99
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  • 20.
    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
    Blu-ray Video: $39.99
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  • 21.
    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
    CD: $11.99
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  • 22.
    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! $54.98
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  • 23.
    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  ... 
    CD: $154.99
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  • 24.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $55.98
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  • 25.
    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 Bone,  Nicholas Bone,  Vesna Stankovic Moffat,  Marieke Blankestijn  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Egarr,  William Conway,  Douglas Boyd
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