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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: 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: Hodie; Fantasia On Christmas Carols
Release Date: 11/20/2007   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8570439   Number of Discs: 1
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Vaughan Williams: Sacred Choral Music / Timothy Brown, Choir Of Clare College
Release Date: 02/23/2010   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8572465   Number of Discs: 1
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Vaughan Williams: Ten Blake Songs, On Wenlock Edge; Warlock: The Curlew / Mark Padmore
Release Date: 11/12/2013   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 807566   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: A Sea Symphony

Browse 1-23 of 23 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Ralph Vaughan Williams: Symphonies / Rozhdestvensky, USSR Ministry of Culture Orchestra
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 2170 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Conductor:  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra
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  • 2.
    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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  • 3.
    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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  • 4.
    Vaughan-Williams: A Sea Symphony / McGreevy, Hakala, Arman, MDR Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Querstand   Catalog: 731 Release Date: 06/11/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Tommi Hakala,  Geraldine McGreevy
    Conductor:  Howard Arman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  MDR Symphony Orchestra,  MDR Radio Choir
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  • 5.
    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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  • 6.
    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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  • 7.
    British Composers - Vaughan Williams: Symphonies / Sir Adrian Boult
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 0874842 Release Date: 01/10/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Sheila Armstrong,  John Carol Case
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 8.
    Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony / Slatkin, Valente, Allen
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 61197 Release Date: 01/28/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Thomas Allen,  Benita Valente
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus
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  • 9.
    Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony, Hodie / Hickox
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 68934 Release Date: 10/06/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Stephen Roberts,  Margaret Marshall,  Dame Janet Baker,  Richard Lewis
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  Westminster Abbey Choristers  ... 
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  • 10.
    Vaughan Williams: Complete Symphonies / Rodgers, Maltman, Russell, Silverthorne
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8506020 Release Date: 08/26/2008   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Stuart Green,  Patricia Rozario,  Brendan O'Brien,  Christopher Maltman  ... 
    Conductor:  Kees Bakels,  Paul Daniel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra,  Waynflete Singers,  Bournemouth Symphony Chorus
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  • 11.
    Vaughan Williams - The Collector's Edition
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 06636 Release Date: 07/08/2008   Number of Discs: 30
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Anonymous,  Traditional,  Henry Walford Davies
    Performer:  Norma Burrowes,  Ian Partridge,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Raimund Herincx  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  Meredith Davies,  Sir Charles Groves,  Sir David Willcocks  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 12.
    Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony, Wasps Overture / Hickox, London SO
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 5047 Release Date: 03/27/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Susan Gritton,  Gerald Finley
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    English Symphonies Collection / Various
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8502503 Release Date: 11/15/2006   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Sir William Walton,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Alan Rawsthorne,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Performer:  David Timson,  Lynda Russell,  Paul Silverthorne,  Stuart Green  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Daniel,  Kees Bakels,  David Lloyd-Jones,  Edward Downes  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Northern Philharmonia,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra,  Waynflete Singers  ... 
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  • 14.
    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: $48.99
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  • 15.
    Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony / Maltman, Rodgers, Daniel, Et Al
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 5110016 Release Date: 04/20/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Joan Rodgers,  Christopher Maltman
    Conductor:  Paul Daniel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Chorus,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Chorus
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  • 16.
    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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  • 17.
    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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  • 18.
    Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony (Symphony No 1) / Daniel
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8557059 Release Date: 09/23/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Joan Rodgers,  Christopher Maltman
    Conductor:  Paul Daniel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra,  Bournemouth Chorus
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  • 19.
    American Maestros - Classical Selections
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80606 Release Date: 07/22/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Traditional,  George Frideric Handel,  George Enescu  ... 
    Performer:  Christine Goerke,  Richard Leech,  Sylvia McNair
    Conductor:  Robert Spano,  Craig Jessop,  Martin Pearlman,  Erich Kunzel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestra at Temple Square,  Mormon Tabernacle Choir  ... 
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  • 20.
    Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony / Spano, Goerke, Et Al
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80588 Release Date: 07/23/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Brett Polegato,  Christine Goerke
    Conductor:  Robert Spano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,  Atlanta Symphony Chorus
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  • 21.
    Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony / Thomson, London So
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8764 Release Date: 10/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Brian Rayner Cook,  Yvonne Kenny
    Conductor:  Bryden Thomson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 22.
    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
    CD: $74.49
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  • 23.
    Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony / Boult, London Po
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 64016 Release Date: 09/12/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  John Carol Case,  Sheila Armstrong
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir
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