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Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams

[vawn wil-yuhmz]
Vaughan Williams, Ralph, 1872-1958, English composer, considered the outstanding composer of his generation in England. He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1894 and studied composition with Parry and Stanford at the Royal College of Music, London, as well as organ and piano with several teachers. Although he also studied abroad with Max Bruch (1897-98) and Ravel (1909), his style remained individual and English. Receiving a Doctorate in Music from Cambridge in 1901, he was appointed organist at Lambeth and his interest in English folk music dates from his stay there. He used the folk idiom first in the orchestral piece The Fen Country (1904), continuing the same style in the three orchestral Norfolk Rhapsodies (1905-7). Elements of English music of the Tudor period interested him and are apparent in his Fantasia for Double Stringed Orchestra on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1910) and in his Mass in G Minor (1923). His full orchestral works include A London Symphony (1914; revised 1920), A Pastoral Symphony (1921), and the Sixth Symphony (1947). Among his many vocal compositions are the song cycles On Wenlock Edge (1909, texts by A. E. Housman) and Five Mystical Songs (1911, texts by George Herbert). In his opera Sir John in Love (1929; based on Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor), he incorporated the traditional song "Greensleeves," which he also transformed into various instrumental arrangements. Other operas include Hugh the Drover (1924), Riders to the Sea (1937; from the play by J. M. Synge), and The Pilgrim's Progress (1951; libretto after John Bunyan).

See his National Music (1934) and The Making of Music (1955); biographies by J. Day (1961, rev. ed. 1966), U. V. Williams (1964), and pictorial biography by J. E. Lunn and U. V. Williams (1971); studies by E. S. Schwartz (1964), M. Kennedy (1964, repr. 1971), and H. Ottaway (1972).

Williams, Ralph Vaughan: see Vaughan Williams, Ralph.

(born Oct. 12, 1872, Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, Eng.—died Aug. 26, 1958, London) British composer. He attended the Royal College of Music and Cambridge University, and he also studied in Berlin with the composer Max Bruch. Having collected English folk songs for his academic work, he combined folk melody with modern approaches to harmony and rhythm, forging a musical style at once highly personal and deeply English. His nine symphonies, including Sea Symphony (1909), London Symphony (1913), and Sinfonia Antarctica (1952), were his most exploratory works. Other popular pieces include The Lark Ascending (1914) and Serenade to Music (1938); he also wrote five operas, including Riders to the Sea (1936). He conducted extensively throughout his life, and he edited The English Hymnal (1904–06).

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