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Ralph Vaughan Williams:
Turn of the 20th Century English Composers


Ralph Vaughan Williams arrived on the scene just as a definite English classical music sound was being established. His three main teachers at the Royal Academy of Music were Arthur Sullivan, Hubert Parry, and Charles Stanford. Edward Elgar and Gustav Holst also had an influence on Vaughan Williams. Other contemporaries of his were George Butterworth, Percy Grainger, and Peter Warlock.

Other shows about Ralph Vaughan Williams:
About Ralph Vaughan Williams
Musical Fantasies
Christmas Carols in Classical Music
Winter in Music

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About Ralph Vaughan Williams
10/12/1872 - 8/26/1958
Born in Great Britain

Ralph Vaughan Williams came from the village of Down Ampney, where his father was a minister. His mother was the niece of Charles Darwin, the scientist who came up with the theory of evolution. When Ralph (pronounced "Rafe" in England) was a kid, he already knew he wanted to be a composer.

Vaughan Williams was dedicated to collecting and studying English folk music to preserve it for the future. Traditionally, folk songs are passed on orally -- that is, someone learns a song by listening to another person sing it. Vaughan Williams traveled around England, writing down folk songs. He collected over 800 of them! Those folk songs had such a big influence on him that many of them ended up in his compositions.

Because of his interest in old tunes, Vaughan Williams was asked to revise the official English Hymnal. One of the most famous orchestra pieces Vaughan Williams composed is based on a tune from that hymnal - a tune by 16th century Brittish composer Thomas Tallis.

Among the pieces Vaughan Williams wrote were nine symphonies, and a number of concertos, including some for instruments you wouldn’t expect to be featured as soloists — harmonica and bass tuba!

See other composers born in Great Britain

 

This Week's Quiz:

1. Which of Vaughan Williams teachers at the Royal Conservatory of Music in London was actually Irish?

Charles Hubert Hastings Perry

Charles Stanford

Sir Arthur Sullivan

Henry Purcell

Percy Grainger


2.Who had the greatest influence on Vaughan Williams music?

Charles Hubert Hastings Perry

Percy Grainger

Edward Elgar

Gustav Holst

Sir Arthur Sullivan


3. Which of the following composers collected English folk music?

Edward Elgar

Henry Purcell

Percy Grainger

Peter Warlock

Gordon Jacob



 

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