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Biography
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was a British composer and conductor who embodied English music in the early to mid 20th century, having humbly inherited the legacy upon Elgar's death in 1934.  He forged a nationalistic synthesis between historic and modern influences in his work.

Vaughan Williams was creatively dormant for the first thirty-odd years of his life, despite having studied with Sir Charles Villiers Stanford and Sir Hubert Parry at London's Royal College of Music, with Max Bruch in Berlin, and Maurice Ravel in Paris.  This all changed when he joined the Folk-Song Society in 1904.  Founded in 1899, and also counting the likes of Percy Grainger and Cecil Sharp as members, the Society sought to preserve the folksong heritage from the dehumanization of an increasingly industrialized England.

Vaughan Williams based his first significant work, Three Norfolk Rhapsodies (1905) on folk melodies discovered during his time with the Folk-Song Society.  He was also simultaneously immersing himself in the music of Tudor composers and Henry Purcell, which reflected in the subsequent works On Wenlock Edge (1909) and A Sea Symphony (Symphony no 1)(1903-09).  This study culminated in the production of his first masterwork in 1910, the Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis.

After service as a hospital orderly and artillery officer in World War I, he finished A Pastoral Symphony (Symphony no 3) and occupied himself with conducting London's Bach Choir.  During this time he also completed the unaccompanied Mass in G minor and Te Deum.

Vaughan Williams broke new ground with the penning of the Fourth Symphony (1931-34), he himself having been said to declare, "I do not know if I like it, but this is what I meant."  Departing from the pastoral folksong and Tudor influences of previous work, the Fourth Symphony bristles with a stark, sinister simplicity.

In the years up until his death, Vaughan Williams worked constantly.  He enjoyed a late harvest, creating five more symphonies (numbers 5, 6, 7 "Sinfonia antartica", 8 and 9, all considered crucial contributions to 20th century orchestral music), the Serenade to Music, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra "The Lark Ascending", and many others.
This biography was most recently edited by...
steven - 11 Feb 2010
Simeon - 21 Jan 2010
Simeon - 21 Jan 2010
Simeon - 21 Jan 2010
Simeon - 21 Jan 2010
Simeon - 20 Jan 2010
Simeon - 20 Jan 2010
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