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: London Symphony;  Butterworth / Hickox
Release Date: 05/22/2001   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 9902   Number of Discs: 1
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Delius, Vaughan Williams / Vernon Handley, Et Al
Release Date: 03/23/2004   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10174   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: Donna Nobis Pacem, Etc / Bryden Thomson
Release Date: 09/30/1992   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 8590   Number of Discs: 1
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Vaughan Williams: The Poisoned Kiss, Sea Songs, Etc
Release Date: 05/18/1999   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 2409   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: Symphony no 5 in D major

Browse 26-43 of 43 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Vaughan Williams: Orchestral Works / Haitink, Chang
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 86026 Release Date: 11/02/2004   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Jonathan Summers,  Felicity Lott,  Amanda Roocroft,  Sarah Chang  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir,  Cantilena
    CD: $48.49
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  • 27.
    British Music Collection - Vaughan Willliams / Boult, Lpo
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000213202 Release Date: 04/13/2004   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Isobel Baillie,  John [baritone (50s)] Cameron,  Margaret Ritchie,  John Gielgud  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 28.
    Complete Collections - Vaughan Williams: The 9 Symphonies
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 55708 Release Date: 03/09/2004   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk,  Heather Harper,  Sir Ralph Richardson,  James Oliver Buswell  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  Ambrosian Singers
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  • 29.
    Vaughan Williams: Symphony No 5, Etc / Hickox, Watson, Et Al
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 5004 Release Date: 08/12/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Carys-Anne Lane,  Ian Watson,  Malcolm Hicks
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Richard Hickox Singers,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 30.
    Vaughan Williams Conducts Vaughan Williams
    Label: Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog: 9731 Release Date: 09/10/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli,  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 31.
    Nielsen: Violin Concerto, Etc;  Vaughan Williams / Tellefsen
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 61925 Release Date: 10/09/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Carl Nielsen,  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Arve Tellefsen,  Kenneth Broadway,  Ralph Markham
    Conductor:  Yehudi Menuhin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 32.
    Vaughan Williams: Symphonies & Other Orchestral Works / Sir Adrian Boult
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 73924 Release Date: 11/07/2000   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Vitya Vronsky,  Victor Babin,  Hugh Bean,  Marie Hayward  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 33.
    Vaughan Williams - Symphonies No 4 & 5, Etc / Barbirolli
    Label: Pearl   Catalog: 62 Release Date: 10/19/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Cecil Sharp
    Performer:  Benjamin Britten,  Peter Pears
    Conductor:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Boyd Neel,  Sir John Barbirolli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Singers of London,  National Folk Dance Orchestra,  Zorian Quartet  ... 
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  • 34.
    Vaughan Williams: Symphony No 5, Etc / Hickox, London So
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9666 Release Date: 02/09/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Carys-Anne Lane,  Ian Watson,  Malcolm Hicks
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Richard Hickox Singers,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 35.
    Vaughan Williams: Symphonies 5 & 9 / Bakels, Bournemouth So
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8550738 Release Date: 01/19/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Conductor:  Kees Bakels
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
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  • 36.
    Vaughan Williams: Symphonies Nos 5 & 6 / Leonard Slatkin
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 60556 Release Date: 08/13/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 37.
    Vaughan Williams: Symphony No 5, Etc / Chang, Haitink, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 55487 Release Date: 01/16/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Sarah Chang
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 38.
    British Composers - Vaughan Williams, Bax / Barbirolli
    Label: Emi Classics Special Import   Catalog: 65110 Release Date: 02/14/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 39.
    The British Line - Vaughan Williams: Symphonies 4-5 / Davis
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 90844 Release Date: 01/11/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 40.
    Vaughan Williams: Complete Symphonies / Thomson, London So
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9087 Release Date: 10/28/1992   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Catherine Bott,  Yvonne Kenny,  Brian Rayner Cook
    Conductor:  Bryden Thomson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 41.
    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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  • 42.
    Vaughan Williams: Symphonies No 3 & 5 / Boult
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64018 Release Date: 09/12/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Margaret Price
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 43.
    Classics - Vaughan Williams: Symphony No 5, Etc / Previn
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80158 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Barry Griffiths,  Peter Cosham,  Andrew Williams,  François Rive
    Conductor:  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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