Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 - 1958)
1872 Born 12 October, in Gloucester-
shire; his mother was related to
Charles Darwin and Josiah
1875 His father, a clergyman, dies and
the family moves to Leith Hill
1890 Begins music studies, first at
the Royal College of Music,
London and then at Trinity
1897 Marries Adeline Fisher.
1903 Publishes anthology of English
folk songs; intensifies folk music
research, with Gustav Holst and
folk music collector Cecil Sharp.
1906 Edits The English Hymnal.
1914 Following outbreak of First
World War, sees action as a
medical orderly and soldier.
1929 Settles in Dorking, Surrey.
1935 Awarded Order of Merit.
1953 Marries Ursula Woods, after
death of Adeline.
1958 Dies 26 August; buried in
Ralph Vaughan Williams was born in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire. Like many classical composers before him, he began studying music at an early age. He was never really good at playing the piano, but excelled with the violin. He studied music at the Charterhouse School, the Royal College of Music and Trinity College, Cambridge. Vaughan Williams was a late developer and did not publish his first piece of music until he was thirty years old. He was a man of the people in thought and action, a visionary and idealist who was always ready to devote himself to a cause. His strong nationalist sympathies are reflected in two essays, Who Wants the English Composer ? and National Music. During his travels, he took great interest in English folk music, and later served as president of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. He lived through both World Wars and served as a stretcher bearer in World War 1. At the end of the First World War he became Director of Music for the 1st Army of the British Expeditionary Force. He took an active interest in this role, setting up creative music-making among the soldiers. During the Second World War he lobbied for the release of interned musicians.
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