WRTI's Essential Classical Composer No. 13: Ralph Vaughan Williams

Jan 25, 2017

From Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis to A London Symphony, there’s something soothing and strong about the music of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, and we love it. You voted him No. 13 of your most essential classical composers, but here are some things you may not know about RVW:

  • Vaughan Williams wrote nine symphonies, just like Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner, and Mahler (who never finished his 10th)
  • All over the British Isles he collected folk songs, which are the bedrock language of his music
  • He studied with Max Bruch and also Maurice Ravel, who said that RVW was his only student who didn’t try to write like him
  • He volunteered to serve in WWI at age 42, driving ambulances in France and Greece
  • He edited the The English Hymnal in 1904-06, saying, "Close association with some of the best (as well as some of the worst) tunes in the world was a better musical education than any amount of sonatas and fugues"

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Read what Mark Pinto had to say about “the beauty, grace, and tranquility” of The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams.