Ralph Vaughan Williams

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:

The Lark Ascending, by Ralph Vaughan Williams, performed by David Greed, violin, and the English Northern Philharmonia conducted by David Lloyd-Jones, is featured on CD 2 in the WRTI 60th Anniversary Classical 3-CD set.

Has there ever been a musical portrait of such beauty, grace, and tranquility? Inspired by George Meredith’s poem, this gorgeously meditative piece, originally written for violin and piano, was rearranged for violin and orchestra by Vaughan Williams in 1920. Between folksong-like orchestral interludes, the solo violinist takes flight playing soft, fluttering ascending and descending pentatonic (five-note) scale patterns, “ever winging up and up.”

Vaughan Williams’s free use of rhythm in the cadenzas enables the soloist to “lift us with him as he goes,” vividly depicting the song and motion of the lark as he takes wing out over the horizon.