Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 - 1958)
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.
(read more............)......(Biographical video)
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
HIS PLACE IN
1909 Symphony No. 1 `A Sea
On Wenlock Edge; overture
1910 Fantasia on a Theme by
Thomas Tallis, for strings.
1913 Symphony No. 2 `A London
1914 The Lark Ascending, for
violin and orchestra.
1921 Symphony No. 3 `Pastoral`
1928 Opera, Sir John in Love
1930 Ballet, Job, a Masque for
1934 Symphony No. 4
1938 Serenade to Music, for
voices and orchestra.
1943 Symphony No. 5
1947 Symphony No. 6
1951 Opera, The Pilgrim`s
1952 Symphony No. 7 `Sinfonia
antartica (based on a film
score, Scott of the
HONOURS AND AWARDS
Vaughan Williams refused to receive awards unless they honoured his musical achievements. He said that this was because he did not want to feel obliged to anyone in authority. Many awards and appointments were turned down, including the offer of a knighthood. Even so, he did accept the Order of Merit in 1935, and other awards, including an honorary Doctorate of Music at Oxford, at least five other university doctorates, the prestigious Collard Life Fellowship, and, in 1955, the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts.
MOST FAMOUS WORK
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.
Tallis was one of the greatest English composers of the Tudor period. Here, Vaughan Williams transforms the tune to one of Tallis`s psalms into a deeply meditative piece for large string orchestra, plus string quartet.